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The ketogenic diet, also known as the keto diet, is a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet that has gained popularity in recent years for its potential benefits in weight loss, improved blood sugar control, and other health benefits. But how does the keto diet work?
The keto diet works by putting the body into a state of ketosis, in which it burns fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates. Normally, the body converts carbohydrates into glucose, which is used as the primary source of energy. However, when carbohydrate intake is restricted, the body begins to break down fat into molecules called ketones, which are used as fuel instead.
To achieve ketosis, the keto diet typically involves limiting carbohydrate intake to less than 50 grams per day, while increasing fat intake to around 70-80% of total calories. Protein intake is also moderated, to prevent excess protein from being converted into glucose and interfering with ketosis.
When following the keto diet, it’s important to focus on healthy sources of fat, such as avocados, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and fatty fish, rather than processed or unhealthy fats.
Foods to eat on the keto diet include:
- Meat, poultry, and fish
- Non-starchy vegetables such as leafy greens, broccoli, and cauliflower
- Full-fat dairy products such as cheese, butter, and cream
- Nuts and seeds
- Avocados and olives
- Healthy oils such as coconut oil, olive oil, and avocado oil
Foods to avoid on the keto diet include:
- Sugary foods such as candy, soda, and baked goods
- Grains such as wheat, rice, and corn
- Most fruits, except for small amounts of berries
- Starchy vegetables such as potatoes and sweet potatoes
- Processed and high-carbohydrate foods such as chips and crackers
There are several potential benefits of the keto diet, including weight loss, improved blood sugar control, and improved cholesterol and triglyceride levels. The keto diet has also been studied for its potential benefits in treating certain neurological conditions, such as epilepsy.
However, the keto diet is not without potential drawbacks and risks. For example, the diet can be difficult to stick to long-term, and it may cause some people to experience unpleasant side effects, such as headaches, fatigue, and nausea. In addition, the high-fat content of the diet can increase the risk of heart disease and other health problems if unhealthy fats are consumed.
It’s important to talk to your healthcare provider before starting the keto diet, especially if you have a history of kidney disease, liver disease, or other health conditions. Additionally, it’s important to ensure that you are still getting all the essential nutrients your body needs, even with the limited food choices on the keto diet.