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Keto 101: What Is the Ketogenic Diet and Why Is It So Popular?

The ketogenic diet, known as ‘keto’ for short, has made the rounds in recent years as a popular choice for those with health conditions, such as diabetes, as well as those looking to manage their weight more effectively and sustainably.

But what is the keto diet, and why has it become so popular?

What is the keto diet?

In the simplest terms, the ketogenic diet is a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet with moderate amounts of protein. It’s effective in helping lower blood and insulin levels while altering the body’s metabolism away from carbs and towards fat and ketones.

In this way, the key trait to note is that the keto diet involves significantly cutting one’s carbohydrate intake, replacing it with foods containing high-fat levels. However, that’s not to say you can replace them with any old fats. They should be healthy fats!

This switch will trigger your body to enter a metabolic state known as ketosis.

What is ketosis and how does it work?

When your body enters ketosis, it becomes incredibly efficient at burning fat for energy rather than carbs. It's also effective in turning fat into ketones inside the liver, which, some evidence shows, can help supply the brain with energy.

This transition can significantly reduce blood sugar and insulin levels, which is why some research also indicates that switching to a keto diet can benefit those with diabetes.

Ketosis happens when you significantly cut your carbohydrate intake, typically around 20 to 50 grams daily, and replace these carbs with foods high in fat, including fish, meat, eggs, nuts and healthy oils. This alteration limits your body's supply of glucose (aka sugar), the cell's primary energy source.

Protein is also a crucial element of the keto diet. However, for optimal results, it's essential to monitor and moderate your protein intake, as too much protein can cause the body to convert it to glucose, which may slow the onset of ketosis.

Since the body is burning fat instead of carbs, many view keto as an effective strategy for weight loss, especially since the foods you're supplementing are high in fat, causing them to be more filling.

Other proposed health benefits include lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol levels.

While there are potential benefits, before starting any diet, be sure to consult your doctor to explain whether keto would be right for you.

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