What is the Keto Diet?So, in case you’re not sure exactly what the keto diet is, here’s the explanation in a nutshell. The keto diet, aka the ketogenic diet, is a way of eating that uses fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates like we’re used to. In your current diet, you’re eating loads of carbs. Bread, pasta, potatoes, fruits, grains, peas, beans, and cereals fill your day-to-day diet. We tend to overeat these carbs because, heck, they taste good. The fact is, however, that we do not use up all the energy that we consume since we eat so much of it, and so our bodies turn all the excess carbs into fat to be stored. On the keto diet, everything I just listed is banned. With the keto diet, your body uses fat for fuel, not carbs. Your body turns the fat into something called ketones through a process of ketosis. This is where the keto diet gets its name. Your body does not store excess ketones. They are passed out like other waste in your urine and bowel movements. Plus, if you’re following the keto diet properly, you probably don’t have excess fat to be passed out. Lots of people have trouble eating enough fat on this diet!
If you’re lost and not sure how to get started with the keto diet, check out this beginner’s 5-day meal plan. It’s a fool-proof guide to winning at the high-fat, low-carb lifestyle.
I Have So Much Fat Now, Why Would I Want to Eat More?A common question asked by keto newbies and a question we all grapple with in the beginning. But think about it. You are starving your body of all the carbs you once ate and now need a new energy source. Imagine trying to eat the equivalent of all the carbs you used to eat but instead in fat. Sounds like a lot. Luckily, you don’t need the equivalent amount of fat. In fact, when you’re in ketosis, and your body is using fat for fuel, you’ll feel less hungry than you used to when you were using carbs for energy. People on the keto diet eat much less than their carb dieting counterparts simply because that hunger hormone just isn’t there anymore. It’s one of the things people love most about getting into ketosis. You can go for hours at a time, concentrating on whatever you’re doing without stopping to give in to horrible hunger pangs. Those are pretty non-existent on a proper keto diet. Fat is also a much better source of energy than carbs. Healthy fats are actually considered brain food, and the mental clarity, energy, and focus you’ll enjoy when in ketosis cannot compare to even a clean-eating diet that allows carbs.
Related: The Benefits of The Keto Diet
How Long Should You Stay on Keto?While the benefits of the keto diet are overwhelming, many worry about the long-term side effects of maintaining such a rigid daily diet. Many medical professionals have recommended 3 months as a window to stick to. After that period, you can slowly incorporate more foods into your diet, such as sweet potatoes, beans, fruits, etc. But to be honest, there are so many conflicting reports about how long to stay on keto and how to cycle on and off keto. Some people remain on keto for years and do just fine. Some people develop other ailments from following the diet. Here is a list of some common side effects people have experienced being on keto for too long:
- may lead to vitamin/mineral deficiencies
- may cause damage to blood vessels
- risk of developing kidney stones
- risk of fatty liver disease