Here’s What You Need to Know About the Keto Diet

By now, you’ve likely heard of the keto diet in some capacity or other, but for those who have yet to take the plunge and try out the daunting diet for themselves, there remain myriad questions around whether or not the difficult-at-best nutrition plan is worth it; questions from the obvious “what even is the keto diet, anyway?” to the more down-to-the-numbers “what should my macronutrient breakdown look like?” Now, while answering all burning questions around the keto diet is no easy feat, consider this a mini-primer to help you get a better idea of what going keto means and whether or not it might be the right diet for you.

Okay, so what is the keto diet?

First things first: what even is the keto diet? Basically, a keto – short for ketogenic – diet is one that is meant to boost the production of ketones – or, tiny little fuel molecules that your liver produces from stored fat – in your body. By revving up that ketone production, a keto diet ultimately pushes your body to use fuel sourced from burning fat as opposed to fuel from sugars and carbohydrates. This, in turn, helps with fat burn and weight loss, but may come with a host of other benefits on top of that, too, including helping curb hunger and allowing for a more steady supply of energy on the regular.

What does a standard keto diet look like?

A strong keto diet really comes down to three primary components: low amounts of protein, very low amounts of carbohydrates, and high amounts of fat. Generally speaking, we’re talking about getting about 65-75% of your calories from fats, 15-20% from protein, and 5-10% from carbs, So, for example, if you’re looking at the average 2,000-calorie-a-day diet, a proper keto macronutrient breakdown might look as follows: 192 grams from fat, 18 grams from carbs, and 70 grams from protein. Needless to say, adhering to this macronutrient breakdown – one based primarily on a strictly low intake of carbs on a daily basis – is no joke. For that reason, there are iterations of the diet – keto cycling, for example – that offer slightly looser rules around those percentages.

What are some of the benefits of going keto?

Again, the key payoff here is fat loss, since entering the state of ketosis means that the body is using fat as fuel in the absence of carbs. Plus, limiting your carb intake means that your body holds onto less excess water weight, your insulin levels go down, and your appetite is significantly reduced, all of which further set you up for easier weight loss on the diet.

Beyond weight loss though, one of the biggest benefits that the ketogenic diet is known for is that of helping with symptoms of epilepsy. Because the brain the brain can burn ketones in a way similarly to how it burns glucose, keto diets actually help children who suffer from epilepsy but don’t really respond to drug treatments.