Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years, you’ve probably heard of the keto diet. This popular diet focuses on reducing the amount of carbs you consume, while increasing fat consumption. While this might seem like an odd diet to some people, especially those who correlate fat with weight gain rather than weight loss and healthy living, it makes sense from a scientific perspective. The keto diet is all about keeping the body in a metabolic state known as ketosis, and fats make that possible.
But there’s much more to the keto diet than just chowing down on bacon and putting butter in your coffee. Here’s what you need to know about the benefits and risks of this trendy diet.
What Is the Keto Diet?
Before you can really dig into what the keto diet is, it’s important to understand that there’s more than just one keto diet out there, as Healthline explains.
There are four main types of keto diets:
- High protein
All are designed to manipulate your body’s metabolic state, inducing ketosis.
When your body is in ketosis, it begins burning fat at a faster rate than normal, while also potentially lowering blood sugar and insulin levels, and increasing overall energy. Even though these four types of keto diets all accomplish the same goal, they also differ in many ways.
People following a standard keto diet, which is the most popular of keto, focus on reducing carbs and increasing fats, while moderating their protein intake. This diet is typically made up of 70% fat, 20% protein, and 10% carbs.
The cyclical diet, meanwhile, involves a cyclical dieting schedule. You might spend most of the week following the keto diet, then take a few days out of the week to load up on carbs. Similarly, a targeted keto diet allows you to load up on carbs on days when you exercise.
Lastly, the high protein keto diet is similar to the standard diet, but with an increase in protein. This diet tends to be made up of 60% fat, 35% protein, and 5% carbs.
It’s important to realize that seeing success on the keto diet requires a careful balancing act. You can’t just eat all the protein and fat you want and stay “keto-friendly.” As the Harvard School of Public Health explains, it’s possible to eat too much protein which can prevent your body from reaching ketosis.
Health Benefits of the Keto Diet
If you do decide that one of the four primary types of keto diets might be right for you, and you feel prepared to take on the challenge of carefully balancing your fats, carbs, and protein, then you may very well see a wide range of health benefits, in addition to weight loss.
According to a report published in 2021 in Nutrients, a ketogenic diet can also help with appetite control, reduce the need for insulin in diabetic patients, increase overall cardiovascular health, and act “as an adjuvant treatment to starve cancer cells making them more vulnerable to chemotherapy and radiation.”
Potential Downsides of the Keto Diet
Of course, every diet or lifestyle choice comes with its downsides, no matter how positive that choice or change may appear. As Harvard Health explains, the risks of the keto diet vary from person to person.
If you eat too much fat, for example, you may compromise any of the cardiovascular benefits you’ve experienced from ketosis and do more harm than good. Likewise, if you’re only eating fats and proteins, you may experience nutrient deficiencies which can lead to mood swings, brain fog, and constipation. Additionally, these diet changes can lead to liver and kidney problems, as your liver and kidneys work harder to metabolize so much extra fat and protein.
Cleveland Clinic advises those who are at risk for heart disease, kidney disease, or those with an eating disorder to avoid the keto diet. On the other hand, Cleveland Clinic notes that those with Class III obesity, Type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, or autism may experience positive results from the diet.
What Does a Keto Diet Look Like?
If you think the keto diet is a good fit for you, you might be wondering what you should eat daily. Again, you won’t just be noshing on steak and butter. According to the Cleveland Clinic, some popular keto-friendly foods, aside from meats and fats, include:
- Fish and other seafood
- Low-carb veggies
The Bottom Line
The keto diet can be an excellent tool for some people in reaching their weight and overall health goals, but it certainly isn’t for everyone. Whether or not you think the keto diet is a good fit for your health needs and goals, if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle, be sure to sign up for Arootah’s Wellness Return newsletter for weekly insights to help you live a healthier, happier life.