There's no denying that the keto diet still reigns as one of the most popular—and highly researched—diets out there right now. But there are two clear sides to the keto debate: There are folks who are all for the high-fat lifestyle and those who, well, absolutely isn't. Jenna Jameson, for example, is clearly a proponent—as is Mama June, Halle Berry, and Savannah Guthrie.
Then there are the people who don't love the diet: Tamra Judge, who was on the keto diet for about a month, decided to quit, saying it doesn't do anything and noting that it made her feel sick (called keto flu). Jillian Michaels recently expressed that people should avoid the keto diet.
The Keto diet is short for a ketogenic diet. It is all about minimizing your carbs and upping your fats to get your body to use fat as a form of energy, says Scott Keatley, RD, of Keatley Medical Nutrition Therapy. While everyone's body and needs are slightly different, that typically translates to 60 to 75 percent of your calories from fat 15 to 30 percent of your calories from protein 5 to 10 percent of your calories from carbs. That usually means eating no more than 50 grams of carbs a day (some strict keto dieters even opt for just 20 grams a day).
That's when you start making ketones, or organic compounds that your body then uses in place of those missing carbs. At this point, your body also starts burning fat for more energy, says Beth Warren, RD, founder of Beth Warren Nutrition and author of Living A Real Life With Real Food.
Why Eat Keto
Believe it or not, the keto diet was originally designed to help people who suffer from seizure disorders—not to help people lose weight, says New York-based RD Jessica Cording. That's because both ketones and another chemical produced by the diet, called beta-hydroxybutyrate, may help minimize seizures. Women's Health Keto Made Simple But people who started following the keto diet noticed weight loss for a few reasons: When you eat carbs, your body retains fluid in order to store carbs for energy.
There are several versions of the keto diet. The standard (SKD) version is the most researched and most recommended. Ketosis is a metabolic state in which your body uses fat for fuel instead of carbs. It occurs when you significantly reduce your consumption of carbohydrates, limiting your body’s supply of glucose (sugar), which is the main source of energy for the cells.
Generally, this involves limiting carb consumption to around 20 to 50 grams per day and filling up on fats, such as meat, fish, eggs, nuts, and healthy oils. It’s also important to moderate your protein consumption. This is because protein can be converted into glucose if consumed in high amounts, which may slow your transition into ketosis.
Can Keto Help?
A ketogenic diet can help you lose slightly more weight than a low-fat diet. This often happens with less hunger. Diabetes is characterized by changes in metabolism, high blood sugar, and impaired insulin function. The ketogenic diet can help you lose excess fat, which is closely linked to type 2 diabetes, prediabetes, and metabolic syndrome.
Another study in 34 older adults found that those who followed a ketogenic diet for 8 weeks lost nearly five times as much total body fat as those who followed a low-fat diet. The increased ketones, lower blood sugar levels, and improved insulin sensitivity may also play a key role.
A small study in women with type 2 diabetes also found that following a ketogenic diet for 90 days significantly reduced levels of hemoglobin A1C, which is a measure of long-term blood sugar management (). Another study in 349 people with type 2 diabetes found that those who followed a ketogenic diet lost an average of 26.