What is the ketogenic diet?
The ketogenic diet is a diet that is high in healthy fats, moderate in proteins, and low in carbohydrates. Eating this way puts the body into a metabolic state called ketosis, which burns fat for energy as opposed to burning carbohydrates.
There are several different versions of the keto diet; however, the “classic” or standard one — and the one backed by the most research — calls for a diet that is at least 75 percent fat, 20 percent protein, and 5 percent carbohydrates, and it requires weighing and measuring foods. (To keep this in perspective, carbohydrates normally account for approximately 50 percent of the typical American diet.)
Is there a difference between the keto diet and the Atkins (or low-carb) diet?
Yes, the original Atkins (low-carb) diet, developed in 1972 by Dr. Robert Atkins as a weight-loss therapy, does not limit protein, and foods are not weighed or measured as in the keto diet. As a result, ketosis may not be achieved due to excess protein intake.
What is ketosis and why is it effective in helping people lose weight?
Ketosis results from decreasing carbohydrate intake and increasing fat intake; this changes our metabolism from using glucose for energy to using fat. The body is then forced to burn stored fat for energy, accelerating weight loss.
A ketogenic diet, for those who want to lose weight, is typically part of a low-calorie way of eating. Additionally, the healthy fats that are being consumed as part of the diet provide a feeling of fullness, which results in less overeating.
What foods can you eat while on the keto diet?
Healthy fats — such as avocado and avocado oil, olive oil, and nuts and seeds — and some saturated fats — such as coconut oil, ghee, butter, and heavy whipping cream made from grass-fed cow’s milk — are all encouraged. Lean protein is allowed in specified amounts (too much protein can prevent ketosis). Poultry, lean beef, and cold-water fish (like salmon, herring, mackerel, and tuna) and other seafood are good protein sources. Of course, carbs are limited to dark green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli, spinach, and kale, as well as other low-carb veggies like cauliflower, peppers (red, yellow, and orange), asparagus, and zucchini. Berries are OK in small amounts.