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Odds are you have heard of the wildly popular fad diet, 'Keto" by now, but you may not be sure about exactly what it entails. In a nutshell, one must consume at least 75 percent calories from fat in order to get into the metabolic state of ketosis which is supposed to turn the body into a fat burning machine, instead of using the standard carbohydrates and glucose for fuel. Is the ketogenic diet effective for weight loss and blood sugar improvements? The consensus is that yes, it is effective, however, there are no-long term studies which show this diet to be safe over extensive periods of time.
We also must question what exactly makes the ketogenic diet so effective for weight loss and blood sugar improvements. Does one have to be in the metabolic state of ketosis to lose weight? The short answer is no. Coincidentally, fat has zero sugar and the average person typically consumes 77 grams of sugar per day which is equivalent to 18 teaspoons. When you go from 18 teaspoons of sugar per day to almost no sugar, then weight loss and blood sugar improvements will naturally occur. Not to mention, when fat and protein makes up the majority of one's diet, the feeling of satiety is more likely which can result in lower calorie consumption. The five percent carbohydrate maximum found in the keto protocol leaves very little room for foods that will convert into sugar and create blood glucose level spikes and crashes, so food cravings aren't as frequent.
You may be wondering what types of foods are eaten in such a high fat and low carbohydrate protocol. 75 percent of all calories must come from fats and one of the largest criticisms of the keto diet when it comes to potential dangers is that the fat intake is a bit of a free-for-all. Think of bacon, butter, steak,cream, cheese, full fat yogurt, pork rinds, salmon, oils, eggs, and any other high-fat food you can imagine. There is also 20 percent protein so foods like chicken, fish, steak, and other standard animal proteins that are very low in carbs. Then you have only five percent room for carbohydrates but the types of carbs are very limited--basically just green veggies, leafy greens, and very low sugar fruits such as berries, avocado, tomato, and olives.
If you're thinking, 'wow, that sounds a little difficult', yes, it can be! The high-fat intake can be hard on the palate and gastrointestinal tract for many, however, low-sugar foods (which are, ironically, high in fat) can be conducive for weight loss. If this nutrition plan seems a little too extreme for you, you're definitely not alone. Following a more moderate keto plan which employs a lower sugar diet can still be extremely beneficial for weight loss and wellness, and it may be far more sustainable, and possibly even safer in the long run. If you are interested in exploring a less extreme ketogenic option, check out our four-week keto-friendly meal plan here!