What is Keto?

Simply put ‘Keto’ is short for the ‘ketogenic diet’, which is a dietary approach that reprograms the body to utilize fat as fuel rather than glucose (sugar). 

This is achieved by consistently consuming foods high in healthy fats, moderate in protein, and low in carbohydrates or sugar.

What Keto Is Not

Although many people look to keto as a short-term weight loss diet, it really is much more than that. In order to reap the full benefits of keto and be successful in optimizing overall health, it should be embraced as a lifestyle rather than simply a diet.

Keto is NOT a fad diet. When combined with intermittent fasting, and by avoiding dairy and grains, keto embodies the dietary approach of early humans prior to the onset of modern civilization and the development of agriculture. 

As a formulated diet it has been around since the 1920s as a viable treatment for epilepsy, and since then has been applied successfully in treating and/or preventing other conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, Parkinson’s Disease, Autism, Alzheimer’s, Metabolic Syndrome, and traumatic brain injuries.

Keto is also NOT simply a low-carb, or sugar elimination diet. Foods that turn into sugar in the body, and those that raise insulin significantly, including protein, must also be managed. 

Healthy fats must be the principal source of daily calories in order for your body to become “fat adapted.”

How To Do Keto

In order for your body to shift into and maintain a state of ketosis (fat burning), it must recognize fat as its primary fuel source rather than glucose (sugar). 

To achieve this, carbohydrates must be limited to 20-50 grams or less per day, or approximately 5% of your daily caloric intake. 20% of your daily calories should come from protein, and 75% of your daily calories should come from fat.

This approach must be followed consistently in order to get into and maintain ketosis, however once your body is ‘fat adapted’, the condition in which your body prefers to use fat for fuel rather than glucose, you will be able to increase your consumption of healthy carbohydrates slightly.

The Benefits of Keto

Weight-loss or weight management is often the primary reason people turn to keto, but there are so many other amazing benefits that should be considered.

  • Improved brain health, and increased mental clarity and focus
  • Eliminates migraines, improves mood, and lowers depression
  • Increases and balances anti-aging hormones
  • Reduces inflammation and chronic pain
  • Increases sustained energy
  • Lowers blood pressure and decreases the risk of coronary artery disease
  • Eliminates Candida (yeast overgrowth)
  • Starves cancer cells
  • Improves fertility and optimizes pregnancy
  • Improves hair and eliminates a variety of skin conditions including acne, eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, and dandruff.
  • Improves sinus issues and asthma
  • Eliminates acid reflux, gas, and bloating

Different Types of Keto Diets

While Standard Keto focusses on the amount of carbs, fats and protein consumed daily, there are several different ways to do keto

There is also overlap between the different approaches, and people may change their approach frequently.

People following Lazy Keto for instance put greater emphases keeping their carbs in check while taking a little more of an intuitive approach to their fat and protein intake.

Dirty Keto is the “if it fits your macros” approach. This variation follows the same macro guidelines as Standard Keto, however there is no emphasis on the quality of the foods selected. 

Processed or convenience foods and supplements marketed as “keto-friendly” make up a considerable proportion of this version of the keto diet.

Clean Keto also follows the macro guidelines of Standard Keto however, it focuses on whole foods from quality sources (grass-fed, pasture-raised, wild-caught, organic, etc.), and it is free of dairy and processed foods. 

Animal-based foods consisting of meat, seafood, eggs, bone broth, and dairy make up the entirely of the Carnivore Keto approach. Macros and portion sizes are not generally tracked because carbs are negligible in animal-based foods and no nuts, seeds, or vegetables are consumed.

Autoimmune Protocol or AIP Keto is similar to Clean Keto except it also excludes foods that may cause inflammation in the gut among those with specific food sensitivities. 

When following this keto approach, alcohol, caffeine, eggs, nuts and seeds, dairy, legumes, yeast, natural sweeteners and nightshades are generally omitted.

Cyclical Keto is popular among athletes and/or fitness enthusiasts. Followers of this approach generally adhere to a Standard Keto diet for five or six days each week, and then increase carbs during one or two days.

Targeted Keto combines elements of a Standard Keto diet and Cyclical Keto. As with Cyclical Keto, It also requires individuals to become fat-adapted before reintroducing carbs, however, instead of having entire high carb days, higher servings of carbs are only consumed prior to exercise.

Are you on keto? What approach do you use? Please consider sharing your experience by commenting below to help support others navigating a healthy keto lifestyle.

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