Makers of breads and pastas are likely not jumping for joy about the ketogenic diet. But for others, this style of eating is the “it” girl at the party right now. Also called Keto, it’s the diet trend that’s becoming a serious lifestyle for so many — from your girlfriends who are desperately trying to lose weight to A-list celebrity homegirls like Halle Berry who swear by it. What we know is this: Keto seems to be helping them trim inches off their waistlines and so much more. If you don’t know much about it, here’s a quick primer.
Where did it come from so suddenly?
It didn’t, that’s the thing! This style of eating was prescribed to treat paediatric epilepsy in the 1920s. Based on research, an elevated level of ketone bodies in the blood, a state known as ketosis, leads to a reduction in the frequency of epileptic seizures. It’s also not very different from the Atkins Diet, developed in the 1970s.
How does it work?
Done properly, Keto conditions your body to burn fats for fuel instead of carbohydrates.
When most of us consume carbs, our body takes those carbs and converts them to glucose for fuel. Insulin is then made to move that glucose into the bloodstream. Glucose is the body’s primary source of energy when carbohydrates are present. But on the ketogenic diet, since your carb intake is low, your body is forced to use another form of energy – fat.
The liver takes fatty acid in the body and converts them to ketone bodies, also known as ketones, as an energy source. This process is known as ketosis.
What can you eat?
Don’t you really mean, what can’t you eat? Kidding. Much like the Atkins diet, the Keto diet discourages carbohydrates. So that means avoiding sugar, bread, pasta, rice, chips, Twinkies, etc. But you can eat lots of fat! Nice trade-off. You’ll enjoy foods like meats, eggs, cheese, full-fat dairy, fish, nuts, butter, oils, and vegetables – the only carb-rich foods encouraged. Ketogenic dieters get 5-10 percent of their food from carbs, 20-25 percent from protein and a whopping 70-80 percent from fat. Do be wary of too much saturated and trans fats – those are the bad ones. Choose monosaturated fats found in olive, avocado, and macadamia nut oils.
What about drinks?
Water, like for most diets, is your best friend. Watch flavored water and alcoholic beverages for carb content.
What other perks does Keto offer?
Well, besides promising to turn your body into a fat-burning machine, Keto benefits are said to help you with a happier mood, better sleep, satiety, mental clarity, and clearer skin.
Is it for you?
If you’re a fairly healthy individual and losing weight is your goal, Keto is one of many options that could work for you. Otherwise, talk to your doctor first.
Joslyn Murphy is a freelance writer based in Brooklyn, NY.