You may have heard a lot lately about the keto diet, which has taken the internet by storm via countless Pinterest recipes, Instagram food share posts and a very popular keto-related subreddit. But if you aren't really sure what keto is or if it's right for you, here's everything you need to know about the diet everyone seems to be doing these days.
What is the Keto Diet?
According to registered dietician Paul Salter, the keto (or ketogenic diet) is a high-fat, moderate-protein and very-low-carbohydrate diet intended to place one in a state of ketosis, a metabolic state in which ketone bodies, rather than glucose, become the preferential fuel source. Salter explains that the diet was first introduced back in the early 20th century as a way to treat epilepsy and an alternative approach to fasting, which many people at the time found challenging. Because the diet was high in fat while restricting carbs, Salter says it was known to produce the same metabolic changes as a fasted approach.
Fast forward to the 21st century and it's safe to say that keto is definitely gaining some newfound popularity because, like many other popular diets out there, Salter says the lifecycle of keto research is finally making its way to mainstream media with solid research to back up the benefits.
If you are interested in giving the keto diet a try, it's always important to do so with the guidance of a professional. However, here are some dos and don'ts to keep in mind if you are already trying to bring some keto meals to your plate.
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Fiber is your friend
Fiber is a definite must when you are observing the keto diet. According to Tammy Lakatos Shames and Lyssie Lakatos of the Nutrition Twins, fiber is very important in any diet for regularity, gut health and disease prevention. However, the twins also say it can be difficult to meet the 25 grams of fiber a day requirement when you're following the keto diet because it tends to focus on foods that are extremely low in fiber (fruits, beans, vegetables and whole grains). Given that fiber also contains prebiotics, which help keep your digestive tract healthy, they recommend upping your fiber intake through keto-friendly foods (if they fit in your carb limit) such as nuts, avocados, non-starchy vegetables and berries.
Given that keto is all about limiting your carb intake, licensed integrative nutritionist and Paleta executive chef and founder Kelly Boyer says that using an app can be extremely helpful for keto followers, especially if you are going out to dinner or if you just want to keep track of the food you are eating. She recommends downloading an app like Lifesum, which provides keto recipes and a comprehensive diet program to follow.
Although a glass of wine may seem tempting on a Friday night, alcoholic beverages like beer and cocktails tend to have a significant amount of carbs, making it wise to avoid overindulging in such beverages if you are following the keto diet. Boyer says alcohol's sugar content can also counteract any weight loss results you are trying to achieve, making it always important to keep your alcohol consumption in check.
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The keto diet tends to fall low in nutrients since many healthy foods and food groups are eliminated. With this in mind, the Nutrition Twins say it's important to plan your meals cautiously. If you are trying the diet to truly reach the state of ketosis, they recommend limiting your carbs carefully, meaning you can't just grab a piece of fruit when you are hungry.