The keto-buzz is everywhere you look these days. Nutrition coaches are offering keto plans, meal prep companies have debuted keto food lines, and well-renowned blogs are digging in to what this diet is and why people are so dang curious about it.
A lot of celebrities are raving about the benefits they’ve seen from shifting to a ketogenic diet, including a few Kardashians, runway models, actors, and athletes. Naturally, when people in the spotlight adopt a specific lifestyle habit, the rest of society becomes interested to try it out too.
As a compliment to our stance on keto, I’m hoping to help clear some noise around the keto diet with an exploration of its history, what (and who) it helps, what the long-term prognosis of a ketogenic diet looks like, and how the diet might fit into your life.
FIRST THING’S FIRST: WHAT’S KETO?
The ketogenic diet is an extremely high fat and low carb diet in which people methodically consume 75% of their calories from fat, 15-20% from protein, and 5-10% from carbohydrates. For someone eating 2000 calories per day, that translates to around 167g fat, 75-100g protein, and 25-50g carbohydrates.
This is key: the total calories you consume are not NEARLY as important as the overall ratio of protein/fat/carbohydrate that you take in.
Consuming foods with this macronutrient ratio causes our bodies to burn fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates, meaning it’s a simple (not easy, but simple) way to burn body fat more efficiently.
Because of this, the ketogenic diet has been getting a ton of buzz recently for its weight loss benefits. Many people who adopt a ketogenic lifestyle tout easy weight loss from following the protocol, without adding in extra exercise or worrying about total calories. It’s true, you can experience rapid, significant weight loss if you follow this diet correctly, to do this safely, there are other nutritional considerations – more on that soon.
WHERE DID KETO COME FROM?
The reason that this diet helps with neurological diseases? Eating a primarily fat-based diet actually switches our neural pathways. You’ve probably heard that our brains run off glucose for energy. Our bodies also break down carbohydrates into glucose for fuel. When you starve the brain and body of glucose by heavily limiting carbohydrates, our system has to use an alternative fuel source to function. It naturally turns to ketones, which are a byproduct of ingested and stored fats.
So, when you adopt a ketogenic diet, you are literally changing your brain and body’s energy source from glucose (carbs) to ketones (fat).
In neurological diseases, which often occur due to an imbalance or overactivity in neural pathways, the lack of carbohydrates shifts which neural pathways are active, and this often results in a decreased symptoms. Many people with epilepsy report a reduction or elimination of seizures when they transition to a ketogenic diet.
More recently, people have discovered that making this system switch from using carbohydrates to using fats for fuel can lead to other beneficial effects, such as:
- Weight loss (specifically, fat loss)
- Insulin sensitivity
- Less hunger
- Improved blood pressure & cholesterol
Since that discovery, keto popularity has skyrocketed, and now you hear or read about it left and right.
TRY A KETO RESET
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UP NEXT: IS KETO RIGHT FOR YOU?
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