What is keto diet and why do you keep hearing about it? Learn more about this popular diet, its advantages, and what kind of foods it involves.
On a list of the types of diets that are popular, the keto diet is officially America’s favorite diet. Surprisingly, it’s even more popular in Europe.
In 2018, the global keto market was valued at almost $10 billion. By 2027, it’s expected to nearly double.
But what is the keto diet anyway? Is the keto diet safe, or only another fad diet trend? Most importantly, are keto foods good enough to make the diet a long-term and sustainable one?
Are you ready for the answers? Keep reading to find out all of that and more in our keto overview.
What Is the Keto Diet?
The keto diet plan is based on a body function called ketosis. This is a function that those with diabetes often struggle with since their body doesn’t handle carbohydrates like sugars well.
But what is ketosis? And why does it make the keto diet so popular that there was an 850% increase in search volume during the past four years?
Ketosis is a literal “fat burner” process. Instead of your body burning carbohydrates and proteins, it will burn fat instead. In the process of burning fat, ketosis creates ketones which are used for energy by cells.
Ketosis usually occurs when the body only gets about 50 grams of carbohydrates per day or less. A high fat and protein diet that’s also low in carbs can kickstart the diet, or you can start by fasting. A diet that takes advantage of the body’s ability to use an alternative fuel source like this is considered a type of keto diet.
It’s like the Tesla electric car of dieting. Why not use fat, the highest container of energy, by cutting out the “coal and oil” carbohydrates?
Cutting out the middle-man always has benefits anyway, right?
What Are the Benefits of a Keto Diet?
For many years, a keto diet has been used around the world to help fight epilepsy in children. No one really has all the deets on why it works, but low-carb diets help adults battle epilepsy, too. Instead of keto, adults with epilepsy are put on modified Atkins diets.
Pretty much anyone who grew up eating processed foods can benefit. The use of processed carbohydrate food has gone up almost in sync with Type 2 Diabetes, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome is actually a cluster of risk factors for heart disease and diabetes, like:
- High blood pressure
- High blood sugar
- Low HDL cholesterol
- Belly fat
- High triglycerides
What do you know? Those are exactly the problems you’re trying to counter as you’re eating your keto dinners.
It may even help with polycystic ovary syndrome, other nervous system disorders than epilepsy (Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, etc.), cancers, and even acne.
The Dangers of Keto: The Skinny on the Drawbacks
No one likes the flu, but after starting the first week of your keto diet, you’ll probably get one.
Well, it’s not the real flu virus. Rather, it’s what’s commonly called the “keto flu.”
No one knows for sure why the body’s switch to burning fat instead of carbohydrates comes with:
- Brain fog
- Sore muscles
- “Keto breath”
It isn’t fun, but thankfully it doesn’t last too long. It could be due to toxins created from a mass die-off of gut bacteria that relied on a steady dose of sugars, withdrawals like a drug addict, or a modulation of the immune system. The jury is still out on this one.
Basically, the keto diet is a shock to the system. This can affect people who aren’t balanced with their diet approach in an adverse way. This is especially true of:
- Pregnant women
- People with heart diseases
- People with kidney problems
- People without gallbladders
For these groups, easing into the diet may be better.
What’s Good to Eat on the Keto Diet?
Usually, the best medicine tastes the worst. This is not the case with keto.
If you like seafood, you’re in luck. The ocean is keto’s bounty with virtually every fish, shrimp, and most crabs on an unlimited access pass. Some shellfish do contain carbohydrates, though, such as mussels, octopus, oysters, clams, and squid.
Those shellfish should be limited to 100-gram servings, but can still be enjoyed on a limited basis.
The fattiest fish are also the most healthy ones for you, packed full of selenium and omega-3. They even lower insulin. These are fish like sardines, mackerel, and salmon.
Non-starchy high-fiber vegetables (read: greens) are also on the table.
Shockingly, there are vegetables that are full of carbs, but you can still eat them. This is because you can subtract fiber from carbs to get your “net carbs.” Where this doesn’t quite work out, though is with starchy vegetables.
You’ll want to avoid:
- Most grains
Substitute for cauliflower, zucchini “zoodles,” and spaghetti squash.
Quick and Dirty Keto Guide
Cheese, cheese, and more cheese are also ready for your charcuterie board. Blue, brie, halloumi, mozzarella, Swiss: practically every cheese is ready for you to consume.
Avocados are your best friend, but sadly, most other fruits are not. Say goodbye to durian, but hello to berries. Blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries are excellent treats.
Flours using most grains are not allowed, but in its place, you can use nut flours. In combination with blueberries, almond flour can make some blueberry keto muffins to die for. Heat it up, throw a slab of butter on it, and chow down (in moderation), friend.
Dark chocolate, coffee (unsweetened), and tea are also not off the table. Put down the extra sugar and embrace the bitter, smokey flavors.
Not to be forgotten is coconut oil. Coconuts contain medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) that are a quick energy source. A daily helping of coconut oil is helpful in losing belly fat and helping patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
Coconut desserts are also delicious, but you already knew that!
Primed: Ready to Burn Fat on the Keto Diet
So, what is the keto diet? It’s the body’s natural way of burning fat as a primary source of energy, instead of carbohydrates. As is the case with absolutely everything in life, moderation is key.
Any time we go to extremes, our bodies will complain. Today we live in a rather sedentary society. The keto diet along with a moderate exercise plan can help reverse the extremes imposed by our current global culture.
It also tastes oh so good!
Ready to start cooking? Grab a few great recipes and let’s get started!