You have probably heard about the Ketogenic Diet, also called the Keto Diet. In fact, in 2019 it was the most popular diet among millennials, with a total of 31.1% expressing an interest in trying it out. But what is the Keto Diet really about, and does it live up to its hype, if you want to maintain a sustainable weight loss or lifestyle change?
In this article we will start by describing the main characteristics of the Keto Diet. Then, we will give you an overview of the types of food you are allowed to eat on the diet, and which you are not. We will end this article by assessing whether the Keto Diet is worth a try, and by explaining what researches are saying about the effectiveness of the diet.
What is the Keto Diet?
The Keto Diet is a diet where you drastically decrease your consumption of carbohydrates. Instead, your diet primarily consists of meat, fat and vegetables. By limiting your intake of carbs, your body goes into a metabolic state called ketosis. In ketosis, your body is a lot more efficient at burning fat, which is the reason this diet is popular among people who wish to lose weight.
What is ketosis?
When you are not eating a low-carb diet, your body’s cells use glucose as the main form of energy. You consume glucose from carbs, such as fruit, bread and pasta. However, when you limit your intake of carbohydrates, your body must rely on other sources in order to produce the energy you need. More specifically, your body will start using fat to provide glucose from triglycerides. This process is called ketosis, and is a metabolic state where your body uses fat instead of carbs to produce energy.
Did You Know..?
Other benefits of the Keto Diet
The Keto Diet can not only help you achieve a weight loss, it can also help improve other areas of your health.
1. Heart disease
A study from the US National Institute of Health shows that the Keto Diet can decrease the risk of heart disease, due to an improvement in risk factors such as body fat, cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
2. Alzheimer’s disease
Several recent studies have found that the Keto Diet may also decrease the severity of symptoms related to Alzheimer’s disease, and may even slow the disease’s progression.
Finally, the Keto Diet may help improve some types of acne, due to the fact that people who follow this diet eat less sugar and processed food and have lower insulin levels.
What can you not eat on the Keto Diet?
Since the Keto Diet aims to significantly decrease the amount of carbohydrates you consume, there are a range of foods you should no longer eat, or at least significantly decrease your consumption of. Most Keto Diets do not entirely ban the consumption of carbohydrates, but it is recommend that it be limited to 5-10% of your daily food intake.
8 types of food you are no longer allowed to eat
Unfortunately, the Keto Diet limits the type of foods you are allowed to eat. For example, you are not allowed to eat the following eight food categories.
- Fruit, like apples and bananas.
- Root vegetables, like carrots, turnips and beets.
- Grains, like pasta, rice and bread.
- Sweet drinks, like juice, smoothies and soda containing sugar.
- Alcohol, like wine and beer.
- Legumes, like beans, chickpeas and lentils.
- Some oils, like soybean oil, grapeseed oil and canola oil (you can still eat olive oil).
- Candy containing sugar and starch.
What can you eat on the Keto Diet?
The list above may make it seem like it is impossible to sustain a Keto Diet, but there are still loads of different kinds of food you are allowed to eat on the Keto Diet. Most people on the Keto Diet increase their consumption of things like meat, fat and vegetables.
8 types of food you are still allowed to eat
In common for most of the food you are allowed to eat on the Keto Diet is that they are low-carb, and that many are high-fat. These are eight examples of foods you are allowed to eat on the Keto Diet:
- Seafood, like salmon and shrimp.
- Cheese, most kinds of cheese, including whole fat ricotta and cottage cheese.
- Meat and poultry, like beef and chicken.
- Seeds and nuts, including almonds, cashews and pecans.
- Low-carb vegetables, like brussels sprout, cauliflower and zucchini.
- Berries, like blueberries and strawberries.
Does the Keto Diet actually work?
According Marcelo Campos, an MD at Harvard Medical School, the Keto Diet has proven to be an effective diet, as the diet is able to speed up the weight loss process. However, like any other diet, you are only able to achieve a sustainable and long-term weight loss if you are able to change your lifestyle indefinitely, rather than just diet for a limited amount of time. The Keto Diet is thus not a “quick fix” if you want your weight loss to work, you will need to keep following the principles of the diet to sustain your weight loss.
To Harvard Health Publishing, Campos states: “Instead of engaging in the next popular diet that would last only a few weeks to months (for most people that includes a ketogenic diet), try to embrace change that is sustainable over the long term.”
Did You Know..?
4 reasons you are not losing weight on Keto
If you do want to use the Keto Diet to achieve a weight loss, you should make sure that you do not do any of the following four things, as they may result in you not losing weight.
1. You are eating too many calories: being on the Keto Diet does not give you a carte blache to just eat anything you want, as long as it does not contain carbohydrates. Thus, some people eat too many calories, leading to them actually gaining weight rather than losing it.
2. You are eating too many carbs: the Keto Diet does allow you to eat a very limited amount of carbs, but if you are not careful, you risk eating too many carbs, which will cause you to not go into ketosis.
3. You are eating too much protein: protein is a key part of the Keto Diet, but if your diet consists of more than approximately 25% protein, this can also kick you out of ketosis.
4. You are not eating enough calories: since the Keto Diet is a diet, you may think that severely limiting your calorie intake will help you lose weight, but actually eating too few calories can slow your metabolism, causing you to not lose weight.