- What Is It
- How It Works
- 7 Types
- Keto-Friendly Foods
- Sample Meal Plans
The ketogenic diet, which involves restricting carbohydrate intake to less than 40-45 grams a day, may be beneficial for people with obesity and metabolic disease.
Learn how the keto diet may help with weight loss and the prevention or management of metabolic disease.
What is the keto diet?
A typical keto diet focuses on high fat intake, moderate protein intake, and low carb intake:
- Fat: 70% of daily calories
- Protein: 10%-25% of daily calories
- Carbs: 5% or less of daily calories
The goal of these eating plans is to achieve ketosis, which is a state in which your body uses fat for fuel.
How can the keto diet help fight obesity and metabolic disease?
An increasing body of evidence suggests that ketogenic diets are more successful than low-fat diets for sustaining long-term weight reduction in people with obesity.
The ketogenic diet promotes fat loss by boosting fat oxidation efficiency (the process by which fat is burned for energy), suppressing hunger hormones, and supplying the body with sufficient satiating dietary fat and protein, and lowering total calorie consumption.
Over one-third of Americans suffer from metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome encompasses a group of problems that includes high blood pressure, high blood sugar, extra abdominal fat, and high triglyceride and cholesterol levels, which raise the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.
Studies have shown that following a keto diet may reduce some of these risk factors, such as decreasing body fat percentage, body mass index, hemoglobin A1C levels, cholesterol, and blood pressure.
Weight loss associated with a keto diet is predominantly visceral fat, which is a type of fat located deep inside the abdominal cavity and responsible for insulin resistance and metabolic maladaptation.
Type II diabetes
Ketogenic diets are considerably more successful in controlling type II diabetes by helping to drastically lower blood sugar, hemoglobin A1C levels, waist circumference, and triglyceride levels.
7 types of keto diets
1. Standard keto diet
The standard keto diet involves consuming:
- 70% fat
- 20% protein
- 10% carbohydrates
2. Cyclical keto diet
Also called carb cycling, this type of keto diet Involves higher carb intake on 1-2 non-consecutive days each week.
If you find it difficult to stick to an extremely low-carb diet every day, especially for months on end, a carb cycling diet could be a better option for you.
3. Targeted keto diet
The targeted keto diet is a good option for people who engage in intense training and require more efficient post-workout recovery. The diet consists of
- 65%-70% fat
- 20% protein
- 10%-15% carbs
4. High-protein keto diet
This type of keto diet is often followed by people who want to preserve their muscle mass like bodybuilders and older people. It consists of:
- 60% fat
- 35% protein
- 5% carbs
5. Modified keto diet
This version of the diet consists of:
- 40% fat
- 30% protein
- 30% carbs
6. Dirty keto diet
This form of keto adheres to the same rigorous ratios (75%/20%/5% of fat/protein/carbs), but instead of focusing on good fats (coconut oil and salmon), it allows you to consume all non-keto-friendly foods, such as bacon, sausage, pork rinds, fast food, and diet soda. This diet is not recommended by doctors or researchers.
7. Lazy keto diet
The lazy keto diet does not necessarily track the percentage of fat, protein, or carbs consumed, but the goal is to keep net carbs under 20 grams a day.
What are keto-friendly foods?
- Grass-fed beef, lamb, pork
- Poultry (chicken, turkey, duck)
- Olive oil, vegetable oil, salad dressings
- Fish, seafood
- Nuts and seeds
- Whole eggs (whites and yolks)
- Nut butter (except peanut)
- Full-fat dairy products (cheese, cream, yogurt)
- Vinegar, mustard
- Chili peppers
- Leafy greens
- Fermented vegetables
- Dark chocolate
- Green tea
Sample keto meal plans for weight loss and metabolic diseases
Sample meal plan 1
- 4 eggs
- ½ avocado
- 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 4 oz baked salmon with 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ bunch asparagus with 1-2 tablespoons of butter
- 2 cups spinach with coconut oil
- 2 oz macadamia nuts
Sample meal plan 2
- Omelet with avocado, peppers, salsa, spices, and onions
- Celery sticks and nuts with salsa and guacamole
- Chicken stuffed with cream cheese and pesto and a side of grilled zucchini
Sample meal plan 3
- Scrambled eggs with bacon and avocado
- Salad with salsa dressing, sour cream, and cheddar cheese
- Baked fish served with salad
- Ranch dressing topped with avocado slices
What are the possible benefits of the keto diet?
There is encouraging evidence demonstrating the favorable effects of this diet, particularly for metabolism and brain health. Current research suggests that the ketogenic diet can help with:
- Weight loss
- Blood sugar regulation and enhanced insulin sensitivity
- Improved energy levels, oxygen capacity, and athletic performance
- Migraine treatment
- Inflammation management
- Neuroprotective benefits in seizure disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Alzheimer’s disease, memory and cognitive function, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis
- Mood stabilization in bipolar disorder
- Ischemic stroke prevention
What are the possible drawbacks of the keto diet?
Since everyone reacts differently to different diets, physicians and nutritionists warn against following a keto diet without consulting a medical professional. Reasons for this include the following:
- Unknown long-term safety
- Nutritionally unbalanced
- Could be dangerous for people with underlying medical conditions, such as kidney and heart disorders
- Could be dangerous for people with undiagnosed metabolic disorders
- Could raise low-density lipoprotein cholesterol
- Could raise the risk of kidney or liver ailments
- Common side effects include fatigue, headaches, nausea, and diarrhea
No one should begin a keto diet without first consulting a doctor.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Paoli A. Ketogenic diet for obesity: friend or foe? Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2014 Feb 19;11(2):2092-107. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3945587/
Harvard T.H. Chan. Diet Review: Ketogenic Diet for Weight Loss. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-weight/diet-reviews/ketogenic-diet/
Crosby L, Davis B, Joshi S, et al. Ketogenic Diets and Chronic Disease: Weighing the Benefits Against the Risks. Front Nutr. 2021 Jul 16;8:702802. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnut.2021.702802/full
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