Cooking for keto diet

What Is the Keto Diet?

Are you looking for a way to change up your diet, elevate your energy levels, and promote healthy aging and metabolism? If so, it might be time to try the ketogenic diet. The ketogenic diet — also called the “keto diet” or just “keto” for short — has gained recent popularity as a weight-loss diet. But keto is backed by science for a wide range of health benefits that extend beyond shedding a few extra pounds.

And while many people associate the keto diet with bacon, eggs, and buttered coffee, this diet can include a variety of your favorite foods and does not have to be “restrictive” at all.

If improving your metabolism while eating nutritious, tasty food is something you’re interested in, then read on to find out everything on the keto diet and its benefits.

What is the keto diet?

“It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle.”

You might hear this phrase uttered by adherents of the keto diet, and it’s somewhat true. Keto is something that a lot of people find sustainable and enjoyable — a way of eating to maintain throughout their healthy aging journey rather than a quick-fix diet.

The keto diet is a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet, and is sometimes known as a “carbohydrate-restricted diet.” What this means is that keto requires you to drastically reduce the amount of carbohydrates (“carbs”) you consume in your diet — which are found in foods like bread, pasta, desserts, and even sugary fruits. Most of these are limited to non-existent on the keto diet menu.

On keto, the macronutrient breakdown — the percent of fat, carbohydrates, and protein that your diet consists of — is typically around 75-80% for fat, 15-20% protein, and 5% or less for carbohydrates.

Macronutrient Breakdown on Keto Diet

What happens when you limit carbohydrates in the diet? That’s where the “keto” part of the keto diet comes in.

The keto diet puts you in a fat-burning state known as ketosis.

What is ketosis?

When you reduce the amount of carbohydrates you consume, you deplete your body’s form of stored glucose, also known as glycogen. When this happens, your body starts to break down fat from the food you eat and your own body fat stores.

Our liver takes these broken-down fat molecules and makes them into ketones, which are molecules that can be taken by the blood to our heart, brain, and muscles to be used for energy.

How the body makes ketones

This is why ketones are sometimes called the “fourth fuel” — the other “fuels” our body uses being fats, carbohydrates, and to a limited extent protein.

Being in ketosis means that you have high levels of ketones circulating in your blood. Ketones are measured in millimolar (mM). A beneficial level of ketones is considered “nutritional ketosis” and begins at or above 0.5mM and can be measured using several devices that detect blood ketones, urine ketones, and even breath ketones.

How long does it take to enter ketosis on the keto diet? After about 3-4 days, you can expect to see elevated and sustained levels of ketones. During these first few days to weeks, some people experience side effects such as fatigue and brain fog. This is sometimes called the “keto flu” and happens as the body adapts to using this new source of energy.

After this initial adaptation period, your blood ketones should be consistently elevated, providing you with long-lasting, stable energy levels provided by your body’s own ketones.

What are the health benefits of the keto diet?

Why you choose to start the keto diet likely depends on your specific goals. Luckily, there are numerous science-backed benefit areas for the ketogenic diet, with new research coming out on a frequent basis.

Time to give keto a try

The keto diet does not require the massive lifestyle change that many might think. It seems to be an enjoyable, sustainable, and healthy way to eat and live. If you think keto is right for you, the next step is to give it a try for yourself. You’ve got nothing to lose, and plenty of health to gain.