Step aside, Atkins, there’s a new fat diet in town. The ketogenic diet or keto for short. Celebrities like Halle Berry, Kourtney Kardashian, and Vanessa Hudgens all swear by it. And if losing weight is your goal, keto works.
What Is The Keto Diet?
It’s proven to help you shed pounds fast. But there’s more to this diet than meets the eye. Keto basically replaces carbs with fat. A typical keto diet looks like this. 70% fat, 25% protein, and 5% carbohydrates.
It’s a drastic change from the diet that the USDA recommends for most Americans, which is less than 30% fat, 20 to 35% protein, and at least 50% carbs. And it’s a significant change for your body’s metabolism too.
Usually, when you eat carbs like a starchy potato, enzymes in your mouth, stomach and small intestines break them down into a form of sugar energy called glucose, which your brain and body use for fuel.
So when you first skip out on carbs, the first couple days you might experience some strong sugar cravings. That’s because your body is switching gears, from converting carbohydrates to the only energy it has left: fat.
Once you’re burning fat regularly, you’ll see those pounds start to melt away. Depending on your weight, you might lose up to 3.5 pounds within that first week. As you burn more fat, levels of insulin, the fat-storing hormone, will drop significantly.
Keto Diet Side Effects
This triggers your kidneys to release large amounts of sodium into the blood which can actually lead to a common side effect known as the keto flu. Many keto dieters report symptoms like nausea, headaches, dizziness, muscle cramps, and low energy levels.
But most of these symptoms will only occur within the first couple weeks of starting the diet. After the first month, the scales will look better but some of that lost weight isn’t actually fat, it’s just water.
Because some of the carbs you metabolized include glycogen which retains water and therefore helps keep you hydrated. As a result, you’re likely to pee more often which will lower your sodium levels even more leading to dehydration, constipation or diarrhea, and bad breath.
The Keto Plateau
Once you’re a couple months in, you might hit the notorious keto plateau. It’s a common term in the keto community. It refers to when people find it progressively harder to continue to lose more weight.
One study, for example, found that overweight people lost an average of 15 pounds in the first month. Another 11 pounds over the next two months, but after that, they saw no change in body weight despite sticking to the keto diet.
At this point, many people will just quit keto. That’s why researchers often find it’s so hard to study the long term effects of the diet. But, as it turns out, there’s one group that typically sticks to keto for a really long time.
It’s unclear why, but keto is proven to reduce the symptoms of epilepsy and studies show that epileptic children who stay on a very restricted keto diet for several years can suffer from kidney stones, high cholesterol, and bone fractures.
But a typical keto diet won’t be nearly as strict. And if you wanna try keto, you should talk to your doctor first. In the meantime, go ahead and get that bread, and remember, the best diet is a balanced one of fat, protein, and yes, even carbs.