How Does the Keto Diet Work?
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1. What is the Keto Diet?
Every once in a while, a new diet arrives, promising great results in the shortest amount of time. We have all seen advertisements of diets that suggest that it’s possible to shed pounds rapidly without putting in any effort in terms of exercise or other lifestyle changes.
However, there are diets that show up that have relatively long staying power. In other words, they stick around for a bit. They don’t just fade into obscurity after a flash in the pan. The keto diet is one such diet.
The keto diet is a diet that is high in fat and low in carbs. This makes it differ from typical diets that emphasize consuming foods that are low in fat.
Conventional nutritional thinking is built on the food pyramid, which is an idea that certain foods should be rarely consumed while others should be consumed as much as possible. In the food pyramid, foods that belong in the “grains and cereal” category are at the bottom of the pyramid, meaning that they should comprise the majority of one’s diet. Foods that belong in the “fat, oil, sugar, and sweets” category are at the very apex of the pyramid, meaning that they should be consumed sparsely.
Photo Credit by Next Level Urgent Care
The keto diet does away with this method of nutritional thinking by emphasizing the eating of foods that are high in fat. Examples of foods that are typically considered “forbidden” in most diets are bacon, fries, and desserts.
How does the keto diet work when it goes against such established ways of thinking? Surely common sense would indicate that eating fatty foods will make one fat?
Not necessarily. The keto diet works with two main pillars: high-fat and low-carbs. In other words, you need to reduce consuming foods that are rich in carbohydrates as much as possible for the high-fat diet plan to work. With these two pillars in place, a biological process known as ketogenics takes place.
2. What Are The Benefits Of Ketogenics?
Ketogenics is a vital part of how the keto diet works. In order to understand why ketogenics is beneficial, it is important to first understand how food is processed in the body to produce energy.
When you consume carbohydrates, your body converts those carbohydrates into glucose. Examples of foods that are rich in carbohydrates are rice and pasta. Your body then converts glucose into energy.
However, when you minimize carbohydrate consumption, the levels of glucose in your body drops. As glucose is the main source of energy for your body, this disruption forces your body to find a different route to obtain fuel.
Besides carbohydrate, your body can also synthesize energy from protein and fats. When the level of carbohydrate drops significantly, your body enters into a biological state known as ketosis. This is when your body starts to break down fat in order to generate fuel.
What happens is that the liver converts fat into fatty acids and ketones, which are the broken-down components of fat. This causes the levels of fatty acids and ketones to rise in your body. Your body then converts the fatty acids and ketones into energy.
This is when your body goes into a metabolic state known as ketosis. In this state, your body becomes incredibly efficient at burning fat. When your body gets better at burning fat, you start to lose weight.
Ketogenics also yield benefits in other areas. One of the main benefits of ketogenics is that it is useful in the treatment of epilepsy in children. Epilepsy is a condition in which the sufferer experiences seizures. A keto diet is useful in the treatment of young patients who have epilepsy that does not respond to conventional drug treatment.
Studies have shown that around 50% of children with epilepsy have their number of seizures halved after being on this diet. This means that a keto diet can be an integral part of medical treatment for children with epilepsy.
3. How Does the Keto Diet Work?
With regards to how the keto diet can improve the symptoms of young patients with epilepsy, research have found that “the understanding of the mechanisms of action of KD is incomplete; however, some theories have been advanced about how it modifies the neuronal metabolism and excitability in order to reduce the seizure frequency.”
However, the main thing we are looking at is how a keto diet can help with losing weight. Let’s look at this mechanism of action in more detail.
How does Keto work for weight loss?
As we have seen earlier, the keto diet kicks off a biological process known as ketosis. This is a metabolic state in which your body breaks down fat into fatty acids and ketones.
Let’s recap this process from the beginning. Sugar, as we have established, is the main substance that your body uses as fuel for energy. Sugar is the building block of carbohydrates. On a keto diet, you greatly limit your carbohydrate intake while simultaneously increasing your fat intake. When you consume minimal carbohydrates, the sugar levels in your body begin to drop.
Your body detects a drop in sugar levels. It first enters into the “fasting” stage. Your liver will first attempt to make up for this drop by breaking down any remaining glucose storage in your body. This increases your body’s sugar levels. Your body uses the sugar as fuel.
After a few days, the glucose storage in your body becomes depleted. In this state, the levels of insulin in your body begins to drop. Insulin helps the body to reduce sugar levels by absorbing glucose into your liver, fat, and muscles. When your glucose storage becomes depleted due to a lack of carbohydrate intake, insulin is no longer needed because your body needs more sugar levels, not less.
Your liver then breaks down fat into fatty acid and ketones. We term this as your body’s state of ketosis. When your body enters into a state of ketosis, it becomes incredibly efficient in burning fat. If your body’s efficiency in burning fat is maintained for a certain period, you will begin to lose weight.
So as you can see, the way a keto diet works in weight-reduction has a science-based mechanism. This is one the reasons why adherents of this diet swear by its effectiveness in helping them lose weight.
4. What Do You Eat On A Keto Diet?
A simple way of looking at the kinds of food you can eat on a keto diet is to return to the food pyramid as a guide. As we have seen, the very top of the food pyramid is food that is in the category of “fat, oil, sugar, and sweets”. The bottom of the food pyramid belongs to the food category of “bread, pasta, and cereals.” If we use the food pyramid as a guide, you should focus on foods that are at the top of the pyramid and avoid foods that are at the bottom. This is because the keto diet operates on a basic low-carb, high-fat diet.
In theory, this means that you can start on a keto diet by simply focusing on consuming foods that are high in fat and avoiding foods that are high in carbs. However, in reality, you might have some wrong preconceived notions about the nutritional value of the foods that you eat. Hence, it is a good idea to start with a keto diet food guide or consult with a licensed nutritionist to ensure that you are on the right track.
Healthline has compiled a handy list of foods that are generally compatible with a keto diet. Among them are meat and poultry, which is considered staple foods in a keto diet. This is because meat and poultry do not contain carbohydrates and are rich in protein. Other examples of foods that are great for a keto diet are nuts and seeds. This is because they contain very little carbs but are high in fat and also high in fiber, which contributes to making you feel full. Olive oil is another great food to eat on a keto diet, as it is high in oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat that is scientifically proven to decrease the risk of heart disease.
5. How Quick Does The Keto Diet Work?
New diets are always met with scepticism because they often have miraculous claims that are simply unsubstantiated. When an advertisement for a product claims that you can “lose 5 pounds in a week”, it is absolutely valid to question the scientific research behind such claims. Most importantly, you want to make sure that these weight loss methods are safe.
The keto diet operates on the biological process known as ketosis. This is the state in which your body begins to break down fat to be used as fuel. It is also the state in which your body becomes incredibly effective at burning fat. So how quickly can your body enter into this state? It usually takes an average person 2 to 4 days for this metabolic state to kick in.
To achieve this, you need to drastically cut your carbs and focus on eating foods that are high in fat. You need to cut down your carbs to about 20 to 50 grams per day.
This is easier said than done. Some people take longer than 2 to 4 days for their bodies to enter into ketosis. There could be lots of reasons for this, but the main one is not cutting your carbs drastically enough. Remember that the whole keto diet hinges on an extremely low-carb diet, combined with a high-fat intake. If you do not track your carb intake carefully, you’ll easily consume too much of it for the ketosis process to kick in.
This diet is made all the more difficult because there may be hidden carbs in foods that we commonly eat without thinking. Examples are condiments and sauces, which we add onto our food without a second thought. The best way to get started on a keto diet safely is to educate yourself on the kinds of foods that are compatible with the diet. Of course, if you have any health issues, do consult your physician before embarking on a new diet.
8 Keto Resources You Can Use
Starting on a keto diet can be rather intimidating. However, you’ll be more confident once you’re more familiar with the science and have a few recipes you can use. Here are a few resources to get you started on a firm footing.
Photo Credit by Custom Keto Diet
If you’ve been experimenting with a keto diet, you know that developing a diet plan can be pretty challenging. We all have different food preferences and weight goals, and we are also built differently. To develop a truly customized keto plan, you need to take into consideration all these different factors.
The Custom Keto Plan is a website that allows you to do just that. When you first sign up to the program, you will be prompted to answer a few questions, such as your gender, activity levels, food preferences, and your personal metrics such as your age, height, weight, and target weight. They then use scientific research and proven studies to create a personalized keto diet plan that maximizes fat burning.
You receive an eight-week meal plan that is crafted with the expertise of certified nutritionists, personal trainers, and chefs when you sign up to this plan. The meal plans will be customized to your specified food preferences, and have sufficient food variety to keep things interesting. After all, you’re more likely to stick with the diet if your plan contains a varied menu that changes daily. These recipes also come with step-by-step instructions that help make food preparation easy.
The goal is to help you stick with a keto diet – and enjoy yourself while doing so. Nothing like a highly personalized plan for you to kick things off.
2. Keto Diet Cookbook For Beginners: 550 Recipes For Busy People on Keto Diet (Keto Diet for Beginners) by Elizabeth Cunningham
Photo Credit by Elizabeth Cunningham
When it comes to diets, we often think of restricting food intake – rarely do we think of cooking. Well, turns out that cooking has everything to do with a diet, because what you cook eventually becomes what you eat. This cookbook from Elizabeth Cunningham features 550 delicious recipes that you can make for yourself if you are on a keto diet.
This 179-page book is a massive hit – it currently ranks as the #1 bestseller in the “Caribbean and West Indian Cooking and Wine” category on Amazon. It also has an impressive average of 4.2 stars on Amazon. A reviewer has commented that it is, “one of the better Keto cookbooks that I have read and it offers a wonderful selection of takes on everyday favourites that will appeal to the whole family.”
One reason for its immense popularity is how delicious these keto-friendly recipes are. These recipes make use of simple, every-day ingredients to create healthy and wholesome meals that are ideal for lunch or for dinner. Many users found that these ingredients were great for the whole family. A reviewer commented, “When I began browsing this cookbook, I kept thinking about how much I thought my family could enjoy the meals… I love that the recipes appeal to my whole family!”
3. The Wholesome Yum Easy Keto Cookbook: 100 Simple Low Carb Recipes. 10 Ingredients or Less by Maya Krampf
Photo Credit Maya Krampf
This cookbook by Maya Krampf currently ranks first in the “ketogenic diet” category on Amazon. It is also a USA Today Bestseller. Mark Sisson, a New York Times bestselling author, sums up why this book has garnered so much attention and praise, commenting, “Loaded with family-friendly keto staples that don’t take hours to prepare, this book is a slam dunk for keto beginners and experts alike.”
This cookbook is excellent because it understands the needs and wants of people who are on a keto diet. People who are on keto diets want to live healthy lives, but they often struggle with coming up with interesting, yummy recipes. The author, Mary Krampf, empathizes with this problem in the book. She writes, “Unfortunately, many people are intimidated by keto. They don’t have a lot of time to cook, they have a whole family to feed, or they worry that they’ll miss their favorite meals.”
In this cookbook, Mary Krampf presents a variety of incredible recipes that are so delicious that you might find hard to believe that they are actually keto-friendly. The cookbook contains a guide to creating keto dough, which can then be used for bagels, pizzas, gnocchi and more. You can also learn how to make delicious keto-friendly desserts, such as cupcakes, pies, and waffles.
4. Always Eat After 7 PM: The Revolutionary Rule-Breaking Diet That Lets You Enjoy Huge Dinners, Desserts, and Indulgent Snacks―While Burning Fat Overnight By Joel Marion and Diana Keuillian
Photo Credit by Joel Marion
Always Eat After 7PM is a subversive name for a book. This is because it takes a jab at a common diet rule that advises people to avoid eating after 7pm. The idea behind this common diet rule is that you are more likely to put on weight if you eat too close to your bedtime.
This book attempts to poke fun at this common rule, and goes further in its subtitle: The Revolutionary Rule-Breaking Diet That Lets You Enjoy Huge Dinners, Desserts, and Indulgent Snacks―While Burning Fat Overnight. This is a nod to the fact that the keto diet subverts conventional nutritional thinking by being a high-fat diet.
In this book, Joel Marion – a fitness expert, nutritionist, and bestselling author – debunks popular diet myths and “offers an easy-to-follow diet that accelerates fat-burning and allows you to indulge in your most intense food cravings: Eating the majority of your calories at night.”
The author does this by detailing a three-phase plan that consists of a 14-day acceleration phase to kick-start your weight-loss journey, a main phase in which you learn the type of foods to eat to achieve your weight-loss targets, and a lifestyle phase that helps you maintain your weight loss for the long-term.
Read this book for an eye-opening look into what truly works when it comes to dieting – not just the popular myths that are out there.
5. The Complete Ketogenic Diet for Beginners: Your Essential Guide to Living the Keto Lifestyle By Amy Ramos
Photo Credit by Amy Ramos
If you’re convinced of the health benefits of a keto diet, you’d probably want to get started. But how do you do so? To successfully stick with a diet as comprehensive as the keto diet, you will need a few pointers to start. This complete keto diet guide for beginners by Amy Ramos could be the perfect book to start.
This 158-page book is the Number 1 bestseller in the “Macrobiotic Nutrition” category on Amazon. This book is “your all-in-one resource of starting and sticking to the ketogenic diet.” The Complete Ketogenic Diet For Beginners lives up to its name by providing helpful tips that covers different areas of sticking with a keto diet.
For example, this book contains 75 scrumptious recipes that can be easily prepared under 30 minutes. These quick recipes are perfect for working people who might be too busy to devote much time to cook. These recipes include fantastic meals, such as bacon-architoke omelets as well as pesto zucchini noodles.
In addition, The Complete Ketogenic Diet For Beginners also has 14-day meal plans that cater towards breakfast, lunch, and dinner. With these meal plans, you can take the guesswork out of planning your meals.
This book also contains a useful overview that explains how the ketogenic diet works. It also contains charts illustrating nutritional information about the benefits of sticking to a keto diet. This will come in handy if you’re still not entirely familiar with ketogenics and want to take a deeper dive into the subject.
Photo Credit by Jacob Wilson
When you’re looking for resources to help you become an expert on the keto diet, a book title like “The Ketogenic Bible” might sound like a good place to start. And this best-selling book by Dr. Jacob Wilson and Ryan Lowery will indeed help you to do just that.
As we have seen in the introductory section to this article, there is a lot of science that is behind the keto diet. Although some people have characterized the keto diet as a “magical” diet – but there is nothing magical about how it works. There is hard science behind the biological process that kicks in when you’re on a keto diet. As we have seen earlier, when your body enters into a state of ketosis, it becomes very effective at helping you shed weight.
If you’re not satisfied with a brief explanation and hunger for a more thorough explanation for how the keto diet works, this book is perfect for you. The Ketogenic Bible is “the most complete source for information on keto – not only how to follow a ketogenic diet but also how it affects the bodily systems and processes that are at the core of how we feel and function every day.”
The authors, Dr. Jacob Wilson and Ryan Lowery, have written this book based on extensive research that has been conducted on the biological process of ketosis. This includes research that they have conducted at their own Applied Science and Performance Institute. This book therefore offers “an exhaustive, science-based view of what it means to follow a ketogenic diet.”
In addition to explaining in detail how ketosis works, this book also includes 75 easy and delicious keto recipes. This in-depth book about the keto diet has 384 pages and averages 4.6 out of 5 stars on Amazon.
7. The Keto Reset Diet: Reboot Your Metabolism in 21 Days and Burn Fat Forever By Mark Sisson and Brad Kearns
Photo Credit by Mark Sisson
When you’re looking for a book to help you lose weight, a title that says that it can teach you to “burn fat forever” is definitely eye-catching. This New York Times bestseller by Mark Sisson and Brad Kearns educates you on the fundamental mechanisms of the keto diet that makes it work so well at burning fat. With these fundamentals in place, you can indeed learn how to shed pounds and keep them off for good.
The authors highlight a key aspect of what makes the keto diet so special – it “reboots” your metabolism. In other words, it alters how your body metabolizes the food that you eat and how it generates energy. The keto diet isn’t just another “quick-fix” diet; rather, it resets your body so that it becomes highly effective at burning fat. When your body has made the switch, the results can be very long-lasting.
To drive home this point, the publisher has come up with a few excellent quotes on the keto diet:
- “Hungry for quick results? Have patience, not hunger.”
- “Maintaining keto is about caloric efficiency – being good at burning stored fat.”
- “Building a fast metabolism as a health goal is completely flawed. It accelerates aging.”
This excellent keto guide has also earned rave reviews from critics. Melissa Hartwig, a New York Times best-selling author and Whole30 co-founder, praised the book, saying that it “takes a thoughtful, patient, lifestyle-focused approach to bring you all the health benefits without the burnout.” An Amazon reviewer has said that he has lost “30 pounds within 4 months, all without starving myself.”
Photo Credit by Drew Manning
This keto guide is written by a New York Times-bestselling author and expert trainer, Drew Manning. This guide is “filled with the practical tools, emotional support, and real-life wisdom readers need to get lasting results.”
Drew Manning is known internationally for his journey from being “fit to fat to fit again in one year.” He gained and lost 75 pounds, giving him profound insight into how weight loss works and the challenges associated with it. He has now made it his life mission to help people get back into shape.
In this book, Drew presents the keto diet as a comprehensive lifestyle choice. It isn’t just about what you eat or don’t eat – it’s about changing your whole life for the better. In these pages, the author has included his signature “30-Day Keto Cleanse” that will help you kick-start your keto journey. It also includes a second-phase plan to help you live on a keto diet for the long term.
In addition to these keto plans, the book also includes 75 delicious keto-friendly recipes, complete with mouthwatering photos. It also provides easy-to-follow exercise routines – something that a lot of keto guides do not have. In line with his vision of the keto diet as a comprehensive, life-transforming plan, Drew has also included in this book “supportive strategies for a journey of true transformation–in body, mind, and spirit.
Other related topics you might like to read:
- The Age for A Child to Start at The Gym: Clearing the Controversy
- How to Safely Lose Weight in Under Two Weeks?
- How to do a Spring Detox: A guide to a Warm Start
- Wikipedia (2020) Ketogenic diet https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ketogenic_diet
- Mawer, R. (2020) The Ketogenic Diet: A Detailed Beginner’s Guide to Keto https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/ketogenic-diet-101#what-it-is
- Harvard Health (2020) Should you try the keto diet? https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/should-you-try-the-keto-diet
- D’ Andrea Meira, et. al. (2019) Ketogenic Diet and Epilepsy: What We Know So Far Frontiers in Neuroscience 2019 13:5 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6361831/
- Spritzler, F. (2020) 16 Foods to Eat on a Ketogenic Diet https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/ketogenic-diet-foods
- Ramas, R. (2019) How Long Does It Take to Enter Ketosis? https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-long-does-it-take-to-get-into-ketosis
- Martin-McGill, K.J., et. al. (2016) Ketogenic diets for drug‐resistant epilepsy Cochrane Systematic Review , Version: 7 November 2018.