What is the ketogenic diet? The simple answer is the ketogenic diet (keto for short) is healthy high-fat, low-carb eating. Throw in a moderate amount of protein and you’re good to go.
The keto diet originated as a recommended way of eating to help control seizures brought on by epilepsy. Then weightlifters and bodybuilders found that this nutritional approach helped them show off their muscles because it melted fat.
The keto eating plan was perfect for them to get the results they were looking for. They didn’t need excess fat getting in the way of displaying the fruits of their weightlifting efforts. After all, they worked very hard to get their muscles.
Today the keto diet is used mostly by people who want to burn fat, lose weight, and become healthier. It is similar to but less restrictive than the paleo diet and is very good at burning fat. Being overweight or obese (too much body fat) is directly linked to a number of serious health problems. Since the keto diet sheds the excess fat from your body, it can lead to overall health improvements.
When on a keto diet, you place emphasis on eating healthy fats. 70% to 80% of your daily calories will come from fat. 20% to 30% of your daily calories will come from a combination of protein and healthy carbs.
Because you are eating significantly fewer carbohydrates on the keto diet, you can lose weight quickly and safely. Healthline.com published a sample meal plan to give you an idea of the variety of foods you can eat on a keto diet.
Why Is Eating Keto so Effective for Weight Loss?
The “starve then pig out” cycle of most diet plans doesn’t happen with the keto diet. This is because healthy fats take longer for your body to process than simple carbohydrates like refined sugar. The result is that you feel full for a substantial time after you have eaten a keto meal.
Also, since you are eating naturally healthy foods rather than processed foods, you are giving your body the nutrition it needs. For those two reasons, you don’t suffer unhealthy cravings of highly processed food, sugar and other simple carbohydrates.
Your body recognizes you are taking on very few carbohydrates on a daily basis. Therefore, your body needs to find some other fuel source. When you feed your body healthy fats, your body turns to your fat stores for fuel. Since you routinely consume healthy fats; there is no need to store your body fat to use as fuel.
The information surrounding the keto diet triggers a lot of sensible questions, and that’s a good thing. So let’s look at 6 benefits eating keto can deliver.
1. You Lose Unwanted and Unhealthy Body Fat
What puts excess body weight and fat on you is a diet of mostly processed foods. Unfortunately, the way manufacturers process food since the 1950s and ’60s has dramatically changed. Specifically, extremely high levels of sugar and other unhealthy simple carbs took the place of fat. What’s even worse, addictive chemicals replaced nutrition.
That is a recipe for packing on the pounds. This overexposure to high levels of carbs and sugar is how you become overweight and obese. Even the “healthy” foods you enjoy are sometimes highly processed.
And that’s where the fat-burning ability of the keto diet comes to the rescue. Your body needs fuel of some kind to keep you alive. This fuel is usually carbohydrates.
The ketosis that comes with the keto diet is very good at burning fat. Since you have few carbs to use for fuel, your body burns fat instead.
2. When Eating Keto You Experience Fewer Food Cravings
Your carb-cravings come from the fact that highly processed food has little to no nutritional value. Your mind tells you to eat something because it notices you are lacking the nutrients, minerals and vitamins it craves. You eat what most people eat, processed food rich in simple carbs and sugar. Then you feel full… for a while.
When your body recognizes you still have not eaten the nutrients you need to stay healthy and alive, it sends out more hunger signals. Your body is stuck in an unhealthy cycle of “bad food” cravings.
Fortunately, the keto diet limits those cravings. The fatty foods you eat reduce the simple-carb and sugar cravings.
3. You Feel Full Longer When You Eat Keto
Eating delicious fatty foods makes you hungry less frequently. The simple carbs that are everywhere in highly processed foods are processed very quickly by your body. This means you can get hungry shortly after eating.
That doesn’t happen with the foods you eat on the keto diet. It takes longer to process healthy fats, good proteins, and complex carbohydrates than it does simple carbohydrates and refined sugars.
This is especially the case when you combine a 16/8 intermittent fasting (IF) practice with your keto diet. Each day you fast you eat all your meals within an 8-hour window and fast for the following 16 hours. Believe it or not, regular fasting is a great way to reduce your feelings of hunger.
4. You Lose Water Weight on a Keto Diet
Did you know that each gram of carbohydrates in your body contains roughly 3 grams of water? This is why the traditional high-carb diet most people follow today leads to an accumulation of excess water weight.
Since you limit the amount of carbohydrates you consume, you naturally reduce the amount of excess water you retain. When you start the keto diet, you should notice the loss of water weight in 5 to 10 days. This is in addition to the fat your body burns 24 hours a day.
5. You Build Lean Muscle While You Burn Fat
On the ketogenic diet you choose naturally healthy foods like nuts and seeds, vegetables, and fruits over highly processed foods. This means you increase the amount of the human growth hormone produced in your body. This hormone triggers the breakdown of stored body fat and creates lean body mass.
Add a proper workout regimen into the mix and you’ll shred fat while building sexy muscle. Ideally, your training should include a mix of cardio and weight training. Incidentally, the healthy fats you eat on a keto diet are perfect for repairing and strengthening your muscle base.
On the keto diet eating healthy fat burns fat. But muscle burns even more fat. So the entire process means you are shredding fat while building muscle.
6. Eating Keto Gets Your Gut Healthy
Did you know that a significant majority of serious illness and disease begins in the human gut? That’s right. All you have to do is get your gut and digestive processes healthy and you can become healthier overall. The limited number of refined carbohydrates and other simple carbs being shoveled into your body leads to less inflammation in your gut, and that is a good thing for a lot of reasons.
Hippocrates in the 5th century BC famously stated that, “All disease begins in the gut.” They knew back then how important it was to keep up levels of healthy bacteria in your gut. The keto diet helps you do this, which means that your health can improve in a number of ways.
What Does the Ketogenic Diet Eating Plan Look Like?
This smart eating plan starts with the understanding that eating fat doesn’t make you fat … eating too many simple carbs does. The keto diet effectively burns body fat for fuel rather than carbohydrates.
Between 70% and 80% of your calories on the keto diet come from healthy fats, as previously mentioned. The remainder of your calories will come from a combination of healthy proteins and complex carbohydrates.
Keep in mind complex carbs are good for you. But make sure you keep your daily carbohydrate intake below 50 grams when you’re on a ketogenic diet.
This ratio of fats, carbs, and protein puts your body in a state of ketosis. Your body will burn fat rather than carbohydrates. Fat is not the nutritional culprit many make it out to be. Refined sugar and similar simple carbohydrates are most likely causing your health problems.
This simple process has proven effective where other diets fail for causing healthy and rapid weight loss. And it will keep the weight off as long as you follow the keto diet.
This is the secret to the quick and healthy weight loss millions have enjoyed on the ketogenic diet. By choosing from an assortment of healthy whole foods and avoiding highly processed foods you become healthier overall.
Not only will you lose body weight, you will shed water weight and fat on the keto diet. You also lower your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, cancer, respiratory problems and other health issues linked to being overweight and obese.
As always, be sure to consult with your doctor before you embark on this (or any other) diet plan. You need to consider your current state of health, especially if you have any chronic diseases such as diabetes.