If you hang out with a pack of fitness fiends, at least a few among them are sure to claim “We Know Keto!” when they offer up their high fat, low carb energy bars. Cutting carbs and eating a diet that is high in fats and moderately high in protein does seem to help some individuals lose weight. Others say ketogenic diets boost athletic performance. However, eating “keto” might or might not be for you. Strip the sugar-coating off ketogenic diets (in perfect keto style) to understand what is known and unknown about such plans.

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What Exactly is a “Keto Diet”?

First, it’s important to understand that it is not new! Doctors in the 1920’s realized that patients who had epilepsy had fewer seizures when on a ketogenic diet. It was also noted that individuals placed on keto diets often lost weight.

A ketogenic diet breakdown includes high fats as 70-80 percent of one’s daily diet, proteins as 20-25 percent and very little carbohydrate consumption at 5-10 percent. That contrasts to typical dietary guidelines that coach people to include carbs as 45-65 percent of their daily intake for general health.

ketogenic diets

Using ketogenic diets to lose weight is based on the fact that if you wean yourself off of carbohydrates as your body’s go-to energy source, your liver will start converting fat to ketones. Your body will then use the ketones, rather than carbohydrate derived glucose, as a go-to fuel source. Many individuals lose weight and/or fat when their bodies adapt to a state of ketosis with a high level of ketones in their bloodstream.

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The Upsides of Ketogenic Diets

Some athletes use keto diets to boost performance since ketones provide more energy than glucose. Ketones also promote the burning of fat and the building of muscle. Other individuals report feeling more energetic throughout the day while in ketosis.

It has also been suggested that since keto diets help children who have seizures, it’s also a way to combat dementia, multiple sclerosis, autism and other brain disorders. However, there is no definitive body of studies to back-up these claims.

The Downsides

Studies indicate that keto diets might be similar to other quick weight loss plans. That is; many folks find it’s easy enough to adhere to the guidelines long enough to take off pounds, but it’s not easy to stick with the plan. This means that pounds eventually come back.

What’s more, some experts fear that individuals who go keto might end up eating more red meat and high salt foods than they previously did, while consuming less fresh fruits and vegetables. As such, going keto might exacerbate other health problems including high cholesterol, digestive issues, kidney problems, heart disease and more.

While the body of research about keto diets is growing, there are still more studies needed to determine the long-term effects. For now, check with your doctor to see if the change is suitable for you.  How you eat should support your workouts, your needs and your tastes (not the lifestyle of that guy on the treadmill next to you).