The keto diet is very popular, especially since it is January and people are looking to make some changes to their routine. Unless you've been living under a rock, or in Europe, you've heard all about it and have probable read a few thing here and there about it. If you’ve decided to commit to the high-fat, very-low-carb plan after hearing about its touted perks — improved memory, less brain fog, more energy, stabilized blood sugar, or most common, quick weight loss — there are a few things you need to know first. Approaching this fad diet or any fad diet fully informed may better set you up for success:
1: Your Body Goes Into Ketosis
It is ketosis that causes the fat burn in keto. Ketosis a metabolic state where your body uses fat for fuel (as opposed to it preferred source of energy, glucose). During this process, the body breaks down fat and converts it into ketone bodies. This should not be confused with diabetic ketoacidosis, a potentially life-threatening complication of diabetes that happens when your body does not get enough insulin and ketone levels are simultaneously high, according to the Mayo Clinic.
2: You Need to Stay on Keto for it to Work
Seesawing on and off keto will just lead you to gain all the weight back. Keto has become such a fad that people don’t really fully understand what they’re getting into and jump into the diet, say nutritionists. Because of that, people often follow the keto diet one day and then eat carbs the next, and won't reap the potential benefits of sustained ketosis this way. You can't really cheat on a keto diet.
3: The Keto Diet Is High in Protein
Eggs and smoked salmon for breakfast and a big cut of steak for dinner sounds like it’s on the keto plan, but protein needs to be eaten in moderation. This is not the Atkins Diet. Excess protein can be converted into glucose, spiking your blood sugar, taking your body out of ketosis. What’s more, the breakdown of amino acids in protein can also lead to increased ketones, which is not ideal for a person with high levels of ketones in their body to start. If you’re unsure about how much you should consume, a registered dietitian can help. You can find one at EatRight.org.
4. Carbs Affect People Differently
How many carbs you should eat really depends on your personal health. When you start a very-low-carb diet like keto, you may not realize how low in carbs it is. Followers typically consume 30 to 50 grams (g) of carbohydrates a day, often beginning on the lower end of that spectrum to help the body enter ketosis. Nonetheless, depending on factors like physical activity, you may be able to go higher. She recommends teaming up with a dietitian who can calculate your nutritional needs. What’s more, sometimes it’s not even necessary to go keto, she says. “Some people have genetic issues with using fat for energy, making the diet even more difficult or ineffective for them,” says Fleck.
5: You Can and Should Eat Vegetables on Keto
You need to eat produce to get fiber to avoid constipation, a keto side effect. Fruits and veggies are sources of carbohydrates. Still, that doesn’t mean you should avoid produce. In fact, these whole, unprocessed foods are important sources of vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber — the latter of which is critical for avoiding constipation. Nutritionists recommend nonstarchy veggies, like zucchini, cauliflower, cucumbers, peppers, and broccoli, plus small amounts of lower-carb fruits, like berries — think strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries. There are still some healthy foods that are not allowed on the keto diet, so you’ll want to consult a doctor.
6: The Keto Diet Isn't Necessarily the Best way to Lose Lose Weight
Just because a keto diet worked for someone you know, it doesn't mean it is the diet that’s best for you. Everyoe is different. There are a lot of trendy diets out there, but in reality, success comes from finding an eating plan that you can be consistent with. Talk to a registered dietitian about all this, but before going keto, This will help you decide what diet is best for you.