The ketogenic diet has been buzzing around the fitness and weight-loss communities for a while now, with many calling this low-carb, high-fat diet the answer to a number of health woes.
But what exactly is the keto diet and how does it work?
The keto diet at a glance
Sharing many similarities with the Atkins diet and more recently the Banting diet, the ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low carb diet that entails drastically reducing one’s carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat. When this is done, it is said to induce a metabolic state called ketosis, during which the body becomes extremely efficient at burning fat for energy, and turning fat into ketones in the liver, which can then be used to supply energy to the brain.
Four versions of the keto diet are recognised:
- The standard ketogenic diet (SKD): A diet typically consisting of 75% fat, 20% protein and 5% carbs.
- The high-protein ketogenic diet: This variation on the SKD includes more protein in the diet, amounting to, for example, 60% fat, 35% protein and 5% carbs.
- The cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD): This version of the keto diet includes periodic higher carb intake, like adhering to five days of the standard ketogenic diet, followed by two high-carb days.
- The targeted ketogenic diet (TKD): This version of the diet allows people to add carbs around workouts.
According to numerous studies, the keto diet can be beneficial to people looking to lose weight and improve their overall health, with one study finding that participants on the keto diet lost 2.2 times more weight than those on a low-fat, calorie restricted diet. The triglyceride and HDL cholesterol levels of participants on the keto diet also improved.
The keto diet may benefit people with diabetes due to it lowering blood sugar levels and improving insulin sensitivity in people who follow it. There has also been some evidence that following the keto diet may improve the symptoms of certain neurological diseases like epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
What to eat on the keto diet
Fat and protein stands at the centre of the keto diet, and meals should be based around the following foods: meat (red meat, pork, turkey and chicken), eggs, fatty fish (mackerel, salmon, trout, tuna), butter and cream, unprocessed cheese, avocados, nuts, healthy oils (extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil) and low-carb veggies like tomato, onions, peppers and green vegetables.
When following the keto diet, take care to avoid grains and starches, sugary foods, all fruit (except small portions of berries), root vegetables and tubers (carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes), alcohol (due to its high carb content), unhealthy fats, beans or legumes and low-fat diet products.
Still not sure how to cook with keto? Check out these great keto recipes that you can put to the test tonight!