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keto diet food choice

Looking to shed some weight? Then you've probably heard of the ketogenic diet. One of the most unique food fads, the keto diet restructures your eating habits to include more fats and fewer carbohydrates.

While the focus on high-fat foods might make many skeptical about this diet, some research has suggested that it can help burn the fat in your body and potentially lead to weight loss. If you’re curious about how the keto diet could work for you, it's time to learn more about this low-carb regimen as well as its possible benefits and side effects.

Purposes of the Keto Diet

keto diet exercise

The keto diet was originally conceived as a treatment for children with epilepsy. A high-fat, low-carb diet causes the body to enter a state of ketosis, which mimics starvation; instead of burning carbs, the body turns to fat and breaks it down. While the reason behind this is not well understood, ketosis has an anti-epileptic effect. These fat-burning results are also why the keto diet has appealed to those looking to lose weight.

What You Can Eat

Those who partake in this diet are encouraged to eat fats such as butter, ghee and olive oil. Other acceptable sources of healthy fats include avocado, nuts and fish such as salmon. Overall, around 80% of your daily calories should come from fat; another 20% should come from protein. While carbs aren't completely out of the picture, ketogenic dieters eat only 20–30 grams of net carbs per day.

Potential Adverse Effects

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While the keto diet sounds appealing to those looking to discard extra pounds, there are two important things to consider.

Lack of Fruits and Veggies

The classic version of the keto diet doesn't contain the daily recommended amount of fruits and vegetables since it prioritizes high-fat foods. This can lead to a lack of calcium as well as vitamins B and C, so supplementing your diet with a daily dose of the missing nutrients is important.

Excess Levels of Ketones

When your body undergoes ketosis, it creates ketones, which can fuel your brain. But too many ketones can make your blood acidic, leading to ketoacidosis, an especially dangerous condition for those with type 1 diabetes. In some cases (like alcoholism or an overactive thyroid), people without diabetes can get ketoacidosis too. For anyone with health issues, it's important to check with your doctor before you try this diet.

If you're considering whether or not the keto diet is right for you, think about why you want to change your eating habits in the first place. For those looking to lose weight, it may help you reach your fitness goals. But be sure to eat the recommended daily amount of fruits and vegetables to get those nutrients that are otherwise missing from the keto diet. As with any lifestyle change, consult with a professional before you go for this popular low-carb diet.

Photos: FAEP, Billion Photos / Shutterstock.com, Valeria Boltneva

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Mykonos, Greece

Mykonos, Greece