What is the Keto Diet and How Does it Work?

You may have recently heard the term “keto” either on the radio, on social media, or as a trending news feed topic. Keto is a very specific kind of “low carb” diet that induces a fat-burning metabolic state called “ketosis” in the body. Keto dieters often claim to experience rapid weight loss, which sounds like the holy grail of anyone’s fitness regimen, right?

Normal, Low Carb, and Ketosis

Someone who is maintaining a normal body weight might take in roughly 2,000 calories per day, and experts estimate that between 45% – 65% of those calories should be carbs. For someone actively engaged in a weight loss plan, they may not only cut daily calorie intake down to around 1,200 per day, but also limit their carb intake to between 100 – 150 grams daily. Such an extreme measure can make this low carb diet a double-whammy of heartache for bread and pasta lovers alike.

Some dieters take supplements like Isopure zero carb to maintain their energy levels throughout the day. This is especially true for those who are combining a diet plan with intense workouts, as the body requires fuel to sustain itself. Others might turn to energy drinks, protein bars, or even join a coffee of the month club in hopes that a caffeine boost will give them the strength to get through a busy day. A keto diet, however, is an even more rigorous diet plan where carb intake is limited to around 20 grams per day, which is less than the number of carbs in a single apple.

Burn it or Store it

Many of us understand the basics of what a car needs to get us from point A to point B: we extract oil from the ground, run it through a refinery to turn that sludge into something that our car can use, then we fill up our tanks and either drive around or store the unused fuel for later use. The body goes through a similar process by turning the carbs we eat into glucose, which is then either burned immediately to get us from point A to point B or stored as fat. Keto diets aim to bypass the glucose production process completely, putting the body into ketosis so it has no choice but to burn all the stored fatty deposits, thereby kick-starting rapid weight loss.

Since a keto diet all but eliminates carbs, the balance of food intake must instead come primarily from fatty foods along with some protein. One of the draws of the keto diet is the ability to eat butter, cheese, and fatty meats such as steak and bacon, which may satisfy typical food cravings. Again, with such an extreme low carb regimen, it is oftentimes necessary for people to turn to supplements and vitamins to keep their bodies running throughout the day or through an intense workout.

Lifestyle Change or Temporary Regimen

Until recently, diets inducing ketosis were only recommended to treat serious medical conditions and were administered with medical supervision. Some experts caution that a diet this extreme can impact other bodily systems including blood pressure and gastrointestinal health, as well as possibly shifting a higher risk of cancer to other organs like the liver or pancreas.

In the long term, diets that may cause people to avoid food-related events or activities or make coffee lovers feel like they can’t drink as much as they want, for example, can lead to lower success rates. If you or someone you know is considering trying a keto diet, it’s important to speak to your doctor about how your health could be impacted and weigh the risk factors carefully.