What is the Keto Weight Loss Diet?
Obesity rates in the United States are rising. According to the CDC, the prevalence of obesity increased from 30.5% to 42.4% from 2017 to 2018. Several popular diets have emerged to combat the many negative side effects of obesity, including the keto weight loss diet — also known as the ketogenic diet.
This diet is a low-carbohydrate, high-fat eating plan that has been used for years to help fight obesity, diabetes, and even epilepsy. Due to the low-carb diet craze, the keto diet is quickly becoming a popular strategy to help people lose weight and fight obesity. The keto diet is distinctive for the keto macros, which suggests 70% to 80% of food to be fat content and only a moderate protein intake.
It’s important to note that the keto diet is not the only weight loss diet out there. There are a variety of different diets that can help you shed a few pounds, including carb cycling, the volumetrics diet, and the paleo diet.
How the Keto Diet Works for Weight Loss
The idea behind the keto weight loss diet is to deprive the body of glucose — the main source of energy usually obtained from carbs. The body is then forced to produce an alternative energy source called ketones, produced from stored fat within the body.
Because the keto diet is an extremely low-carbohydrate diet, the body is forced to pull glucose from the liver for fuel. After a few days, the glucose storage is depleted, and the body is forced to use fat instead as its primary fuel source. The liver then begins to produce ketones from the fat stores, which can be used in the absence of glucose. When enough ketone bodies accumulate in the blood, ketosis is reached.
All in all, by limiting the number of carbohydrates, your body is forced to burn excess fat for fuel. Given the appeal of fat-burning properties, the keto weight loss diet has become increasingly popular.
How to Start the Keto Diet for Weight Loss
There isn’t a “standard” diet with a specific ratio of keto macros (carbohydrates, protein, fat) to start when it comes to the keto diet. That said, all ketogenic diets ban carb-rich foods. As a general rule of thumb, the ketogenic diet typically limits carbohydrate intake to less than 50g per day. However, this number can be much lower depending on the specific plan.
If you want to follow a ketogenic diet, follow these general guidelines:
- Aim for less than 50 grams of carbs per day. Keep in mind — a medium-sized bagel usually has about 48 grams of carbs.
- Always read the labels before you start eating anything.
- Stock up on the essentials by getting meat, cheese, nuts, oils, whole eggs, and oily fish.
- Fill your plate with low-carb veggies to help keep you full. Vegetables also provide the fiber that you won’t be getting from whole grains and beans.
- Track your progress daily by taking photos, measurements, and weighing yourself. This will help you stay motivated and identify if something isn’t working as it should.
Research suggests that as a percentage of your daily calories:
- 70–80% should come from fat
- 10–20% should come from protein
- 5–10% should come from carbohydrates
For a 2000-calorie diet, this roughly translates the keto macros to 165 grams fat, 40 grams carbohydrate, and 75 grams protein.
Benefits of the Keto Diet
Weight loss isn’t the only benefit of following a ketogenic diet. Here are a few other added benefits:
- Reduced appetite: Studies show that low-carb, high-fat, high-protein eating leads to a reduction in appetite, and people end up eating fewer calories.
- Improved weight loss: Low-carb diets help rid the body of excess water and lower insulin levels, leading to rapid weight loss throughout the first couple of weeks of the diet.
- Lose your belly fat: Low-carb diets are effective at helping lose excess abdominal fat.
Symptoms of Keto Flu
It’s important to note that there may be some negative side effects from following this diet, usually the symptoms of keto flu. When you first start, you may experience flu-like symptoms, known as keto flu symptoms. This could include insufficient energy and mental function, sleep issues, nausea, indigestion, increased hunger, or poor exercise performance.
When following the keto weight loss diet, there’s also a risk of dehydration. Because of this, you need to drink plenty of water.
There’s a reason why the keto weight loss diet has become so popular in recent years. With the steady incline in obesity rates, thousands of people have tried this diet and stand by it as a powerful weight loss strategy.
Although there are a variety of styles, the keto weight loss diet revolves around high-fat, low-carb food choices. A healthy ketogenic diet recommends roughly 75% fat, 15% protein, and 10% carbs. On any given day, you should consume no more than 50 grams of carbs.
If you can tolerate the potential keto flu symptoms, you’ll quickly start to see your weight tick lower and lower.