The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, moderate protein, low carbohydrate dietary regimen which helps force the body to burn fat rather than carbohydrates. This process produces ketones, which gives you energy and focus while keeping your blood sugar stable.
It’s been around for decades but has recently experienced a surge in popularity. You can now find ketogenic recipes on Pinterest and Instagram, and there are tons of new fad diets that claim to help you lose weight using ketosis as a way to boost your metabolism.
A ketogenic diet forces your body into a state of ketosis — which means it’s burning fat instead of carbohydrates for energy.
You see, the ketogenic diet requires that 75 to 80 percent of your total daily calories come from fat. By comparison, most people consume about 45 to 65 percent of their daily calories from carbohydrates.
In order for your body to enter a state of ketosis and start using fat as its primary source of energy, you must severely cut down your intake of carbs.
When you do this, your body becomes incredibly efficient at burning fat for fuel.
Ketogenic diets often come in the form of “keto” meal plans that include recipes full of fatty meats and high-fat dairy products like butter and heavy cream.
However, if you’re new to ketosis, you can also take ketone supplements that provide your body with extra ketones.
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, these supplements can raise your blood ketone levels even if you’re not following a strict diet.
Health benefits of Keto Diets
Here are some of the potential benefits:
A review published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that following a keto diet may improve glycemic control and insulin sensitivity for people with Type 2 diabetes.
That means it could help reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
A ketogenic diet has been proven to improve and reverse insulin resistance and lower blood sugar levels for people with Type 2 diabetes ( and it could even help people who have Prediabetes).
Research also suggests that a ketogenic diet helps decrease the risk of metabolic diseases like metabolic syndrome and PCOS.
A 2018 pilot study found that the ketogenic diet helped improve hypertension in obese people with pre-diabetes by reducing oxidative stress and improving vascular function.
May protect against certain types of cancer
A 2017 review published in the Journal of Molecular Biology found that ketogenic diets could be a useful tool for cancer prevention.
It suggests that one reason the keto diet can help prevent certain cancers is by regulating inflammation in the body.
A 2015 paper published in OncoTargets and Therapy found that when mice with advanced cancer were put on a ketogenic diet , their tumor growth was reduced significantly.
A 2016 study published in the Journal of Molecular Neuroscience found that a ketogenic diet helped improve symptoms of Parkinson’s disease in mice by protecting against damage to neurons in the brain.
Ketogenic diets may protect memory and learning skills
A 2017 study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that ketogenic diets may help protect memory and learning ability for people with early signs of Alzheimer’s disease.
There is some evidence that a keto diet could improve acne symptoms by decreasing insulin levels, which helps control blood sugar.
A 2016 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that a ketogenic diet can help you burn fat more quickly and lose at least twice as much weight as a standard low-fat, calorie restricted diet.
May have fewer side effects than other diets
Following a keto diet can reduce your risk of certain side effects related to a restrictive diet, such as fatigue and organ dysfunction.
Might help lower appetite
The Ketogenic Diet for Weight Loss
If you want to reach and maintain a state of ketosis, it’s important to make sure you’re eating the right foods and cutting out the carbs, sugars and fatty products that can derail your efforts.
Since carbohydrates are your body’s preferred source of fuel, it will be difficult for you to stay in ketosis if you regularly consume them.
Experts recommend that no more than 50 grams of carbs a day come from high-fiber foods like vegetables, nuts and seeds — with less than 20 grams from root vegetables such as white potato.
You’re likely to experience the “keto flu” within a couple of days of kicking your carbs to the curb. This is a result of carb withdrawal and happens when your body adjusts to using ketones instead of glucose for energy. Symptoms include headache, nausea, fatigue, irritability and trouble sleeping.
Going into ketosis by following a keto meal plan can help you avoid these symptoms altogether. Just take it slow at first and adjust your intake of carbs gradually until your body gets the hang of it. Once you start to experience some of the benefits of keto, you’ll be more motivated to stay on track.
A small study published in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism found that participants who had a high protein intake during an eight-week study reported less hunger.