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What Is the Keto Diet and Should I Try It?

The Ketogenic (Keto) Diet has recently gained a lot of popularity because of some of its health benefits. Many of you know people who have lost weight using this approach and have asked me for my thoughts, so here they are.

The Keto diet is a very low carb, very high-fat diet and it has been shown to help some people lose weight (yes, even with high fat!). It can also help improve certain health conditions, like epilepsy.

It is based on training your body to burn fat (through “ketosis”) instead of glucose.

What is “ketosis?”

Carbohydrates (sugars & starches) that break down to glucose will be used first by your brain and muscles, whenever it’s available. This is why maintaining stable blood sugar impacts your attention, mood, and energy level.

However, when glucose is not available for fuel, your body starts making compounds known as “ketones.” These are your body’s backup fuel made from fat. The term ketogenic means “the generation of ketones.”

After being on a low carbohydrate diet for a while, your blood level of ketones starts to increase. This is the metabolic state known as “ketosis.” It’s the depleted supply of glucose as fuel that’s the trigger for the body to turn fat into ketones for fuel instead.

NOTE: “Ketosis” from a ketogenic diet is not the same thing as the dangerous condition known as “ketoacidosis.”

Keto and Weight Loss

With a high fat intake, it may be surprising to know that studies show that a ketogenic diet is effective for weight loss.

For example, one study showed that people lost 2.2 times more weight on a ketogenic diet than those on low-fat or calorie-controlled diets. How is this possible?

One reason is that eating fat and protein is filling. It helps release satiety hormones that tell us that we’re full and satisfied, and we don’t need to eat anymore.

And by eating enough fat and protein to go into “ketosis,” you will likely feel fuller for longer so that you eat less food overall. And of course, this helps with weight loss.

Keto and Your Health

Some studies show other health benefits of the ketogenic diet.

Changing your metabolism can have health effects that are beneficial for some people.

Keto Basics

Not everyone should go on a keto diet. Make sure you speak with a trained healthcare practitioner before you try it. 

The traditional keto diet is restrictive and involves eating macronutrients in the following proportions:

  • 60-75% of your calories from fat,
  • 20-35% from protein, and
  • 5% from carbs.

The foods to focus on for a ketogenic diet are meat, fatty fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, healthy oils, avocados, and low-carb vegetables (e.g. cucumber, celery, peppers, zucchini, leafy greens, etc.).

The main thing to avoid are foods that are high in carbs. These include sugary foods and desserts, grains, fruit, legumes, starchy vegetables, and alcohol.

Keto Concerns

Using any kind of restrictive diet has limitations and can be done in an unhealthy way. For the keto diet, because of the limits placed on carbohydrates such as fruit and vegetables, many people lack adequate amounts of fiber and micronutrients and some experience other unwanted side effects. And, the keto diet can be hard to adhere to long-term.

Due to these concerns, my preferred nutrition plan includes a modified form of these principles that is easier to sustain and has similar long-term benefits. A customized approach is what we work on in my personalized nutrition programs.

Bottom Line

The ketogenic diet is very popular since it can be helpful for weight loss, and other health conditions.

It’s not for everyone and can result in missing important nutrients in your diet. So, make sure you check with a knowledgeable practitioner to help you before you begin.

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If you would like to discuss how you can create the thoughts you need to support achieving your health goals, schedule a call with me now to discuss.

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