The ketogenic diet, which is a form of a low-carb diet, is currently on the rise as more people are recognizing its benefits for their health and fitness goals. But you might still be wondering, “what is the ketogenic diet all about, and can it work for me?” And that’s what we’re here to cover.
You can use this page as your comprehensive guide for everything you need to know about the ketogenic diet, or “keto” diet, and how to get started today!
KETOGENIC DIET BASICS
Basically, the purpose of the ketogenic diet is to force the body into burning fats instead of carbohydrates. Those who follow it eat a diet that contains high amounts of fat, moderate amounts of protein, and low levels of carbohydrates.
Through this breakdown of macronutrients, you’re able to change how the body uses energy to produce some pretty awesome benefits. But to fully understand how it works, it’s important to have a grasp on exactly how the body uses energy in the first place.
FAT FOR ENERGY VS CARBS FOR ENERGY
Normally, when you eat a diet rich in carbohydrates, your body converts the carbs to glucose for energy and makes insulin to transport the glucose into your bloodstream. Glucose is the “preferred” energy source of the body, so if it’s is present, the body will turn to it first.
When you lower your carbohydrate intake through a ketogenic diet, your body doesn’t have that same amount of carbs for fuel. Without prior knowledge, this might seem like a bad thing, but it actually produces remarkable results — because this sends your body into a state known as ketosis, which is the basis of a ketogenic diet.
Ketosis happens when the body turns to fat, instead of carbs, for fuel. Specifically, the liver converts the fatty acids in your body into ketone bodies, or ketones, to be used for energy. So when you overload the body with fats as the main energy source, it adapts and becomes “keto-adaptive,” or more efficient at burning fat!
The process of ketosis is a natural survival function of the body that helps it adapt when there’s not much food available. Similarly, the ketogenic diet focuses on “starving” the body of carbohydrates to facilitate ketosis and burn fat while also providing the body with great nutrition.
TYPES OF KETOGENIC DIETS
There are three types of ketogenic diets, although not all are suited for most people. The difference in each is fully dependent on carb intake:
The Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD): most common and recommended version of the diet where you stay within 20-50 grams of net carbs per day and focus on moderate protein intake and high fat intake.
Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD): involves eating around 25-50 grams of net carbs or less around 30 minutes to an hour before exercise.
Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD): involves higher-carb periods where you eat a low-carb, ketogenic diet for several days followed by a couple days eating high-carb.
High-Protein Ketogenic Diet: very close to a SKD, but with additional amounts of protein.