Diet trends are constantly coming and going. Atkins, Whole30, Paleo, South Beach, The Zone diet. The list goes on.
One diet we can’t escape lately is the Keto diet. It seems anytime we are online, we see something about it. From bloggers and Instagrammers to top authorities in nutrition, it’s widely talked about. But what actually is this diet?
The ketogenic diet is high in fat and low in carbohydrates, with a moderate amount of protein mixed in there. What’s the thinking behind this?
When you eat carbohydrates, your body responds by producing glucose and insulin. Glucose is the primary source of energy for your body because it can be easily broken down — insulin travels through the body to process the glucose.
But when you lower your carbohydrate intake, your body doesn’t have that glucose to rely on for energy. Instead, it finds an alternate source. And that’s the goal of the ketogenic diet: your body will rely on your fat stores for energy when glucose isn’t available. You’re putting your body into ketosis, a natural process your body enters when food intake is low, during which it produces ketones from the breakdown of fat in the liver. It’s a survival mechanism.
Say you get lost on a hike in the woods and spend 5 days without any food. Your caloric intake will be low and your body will have little to no glucose to fuel it. To survive, your body will enter ketosis. This is ketosis induced by starvation. The ketone diet induces ketosis due to lack of carbohydrates.
What do you get to eat?
The lower your carbohydrate intake, the faster you will enter ketosis. So that means cutting back on fruits, grains, beans, sugar, and starchy vegetables like potatoes and yams.
Instead, you should focus on meat, nuts and seeds, vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower, and leafy greens.
So is it safe?
You can read just about anything online. You’ll find plenty of sites claiming it’s the safest diet out there and then on the other end, sites claiming it’s extremely dangerous. Ultimately, it comes down to you and your body.
We don’t love the idea of cutting any food group completely out of your diet; we prefer the balanced approach where nothing is really “off-limits”. But it’s a personal decision! We always recommend speaking with your doctor before starting any new diet or exercise regime.