What is the Keto Diet and How Does it Work?

The keto diet has existed for almost a century, but it has become especially popular in the last few years. Many people have successfully lost weight and improved their health with this diet while eating delicious and filling foods.

All foods can be broken down into three macronutrients: fat, protein, and carbohydrates. The main rule of the keto diet is to limit carbs and replace them with fat and protein. Keto is similar to other low-carb diets like Atkins and Paleo, but it reduces your carb intake to the bare minimum and encourages you to eat lots of healthy fat and protein without counting calories.

The keto diet can provide many health benefits, but it's important to follow it properly. Before cutting out carbohydrates, make sure you understand how the diet works and what to expect. Like with all diets, you should eat a variety of foods, stay active, and talk to your doctor if you have any concerns.

Keto Diet Explained

The goal of the keto diet to enter a state called ketosis, which makes your body burn fat for energy. Normally, your body breaks down carbohydrates for energy, but if you limit your carb intake, your body will turn to fat for an energy source instead. This makes the keto diet very effective for fat loss.

Once your body enters ketosis, you may notice the following symptoms:

  • Increased urination
  • Bad breath
  • Dry mouth
  • Excessive thirst
  • Reduced hunger

Being in ketosis can be uncomfortable for the first few days. You may feel tired, weak, or nauseous as your body adjusts. However, these symptoms should go away soon. After adjusting to ketosis, many people report feeling more alert and energetic, which helps them stay active and exercise more.

Carbohydrates make your blood glucose levels quickly spike and crash, so you may feel hungry again shortly after eating a carb-heavy meal. Eating mostly fat and protein will help you avoid these crashes. The foods allowed on the keto diet are satiating, so you'll stay full for hours on less food. Most people who try the keto diet end up reducing their calorie intake simply because their meals are so filling.

Keto Basics for Beginners

Many common staple foods are full of carbs, so it can be difficult at first to change your diet. However, the keto diet allows for lots of filling and delicious foods. The following foods are all popular with people on the keto diet:

  • Eggs
  • Butter
  • Olive oil
  • Avocados
  • Cottage cheese
  • Chicken
  • Fish
  • Bacon

Your body needs some carbohydrates to survive, but you have to strictly limit your carb intake to enter ketosis. The exact carb limit varies from person to person, but it's usually recommended to eat between 20 and 50 grams per day on the keto diet.

The general rule on the keto diet is to consume 60 percent of your calories from fat, 35 percent from protein, and 5 percent from carbs. If you plan to eat 2,000 calories per day, this means that 1,200 calories should come from fat, 700 should come from protein, and 100 should come from carbs.

You can keep track of your fat, protein, and carb intake on your own, but using an online fitness tracker can make it much simpler. There are a variety of websites and apps that will calculate your daily totals based on the foods you input. With each meal, you can check your food log to make sure you don't go over your daily carb limit.

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