What is the keto diet?
The short answer is that it's a low-carb, high-fat plan that can actually help you lose fat.
There are many additional health benefits to switching to the ketogenic (keto) diet, such as lower blood sugar levels and a lower risk of cancer.
Read on to learn more about getting started on the keto diet.
What Are Macronutrients?
In order to understand the keto diet better, it helps to learn more about macronutrients. These are nutrients your body needs in larger amounts to use as energy.
Macronutrients include three main categories: protein, carbohydrates and fat. Your body breaks down protein into amino acids and breaks down carbs into simple sugars. Fats break down into fatty acids and glycerol.
What Is the Ketogenic Diet?
According to a March 2019 article in StatPearls, the ketogenic diet restricts two of the macronutrients: carbs and protein.
This forces your body to use fat for energy, which results in many health benefits. This low-carb, high-fat diet puts you in a metabolic state called ketosis.
When you don't have enough carbs to make energy, your liver can convert fat into ketones that your body can use as fuel. Your body can also take advantage of gluconeogenesis, a process of making glucose from non-carbohydrate sources like fat, according to the StatPearls article.
What Are the Benefits of a Keto Diet?
The most popular benefit driving the popularity of the diet is weight loss, specifically fat loss, says the StatPearls article. But there are many other benefits to consider.
This diet lowers blood sugar levels, so it's helpful for people who have or are at risk of diabetes. The keto diet also lowers the risk of cancer and can even help patients who already have cancer by reducing tumor progression. It improves heart health, treats seizures and helps the brain.
How Do You Get in Ketosis?
Ketosis is your body's metabolic response to a low-carb, high-fat diet that forces it to use fat for energy.
It's helpful to focus on keto macros and use a calculator to find the perfect balance of fat, protein and carbs for your body type to enter ketosis.You can also increase your healthy fat intake by consuming more coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil and other oils.
How Do You Know When You’re in Ketosis?
There is truly only one way to determine if you're in ketosis, and it’s by blood testing for ketones.
This is now easy to do with a variety of at-home tests available over-the-counter. You can also purchase urine and breath tests without a prescription to test for ketones. However, using your urine and breath isn't as accurate as your blood.
Getting Started With Keto
If you're interested in starting the keto diet, the first step is to determine what you should eat. Start by calculating your macros and setting up a meal plan. Then, get ready to clean out your kitchen of everything you can't eat, either donating it or giving it to friends. Finally, put together a detailed grocery shopping list to start your keto journey including everyday staples and ingredients for cooking as well as items like keto bars, coffee creamer and supplements like exogenous ketones to hold you through.
Lana Bandoim is a freelance writer and editor. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and chemistry and more than a decade of writing experience. Her work has appeared in Forbes, Yahoo News, Business Insider, Lifescript, Healthline and many other publications.