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A Detailed Guide to the Potential Health Benefits and Risks of the Keto Diet

5 Health Benefits of a Ketogenic Diet

To say that the keto diet has become one of the most popular diets of recent years is a complete understatement. Case in point: There are more than one million searches on Google every month for the keto diet. It’s unique because the fad diet has captured the interest of people who want to lose weight — and there’s no shortage of reported success stories to be found.

The Keto Diet, Defined: A Brief Primer
So what is the keto diet?

The diet calls for consuming high amounts of fat, a moderate amount of protein, and a very limited amount of carbs. It’s usually broken down to 75, 20, and 5 percent of your daily calories, respectively, says Pamela Nisevich Bede, RD, a dietitian with Abbott’s EAS Sports Nutrition in Columbus, Ohio. Compare that with the typical American diet — which is usually 50 to 65 percent carbs — and it’s safe to say this is a completely different way of eating, Nisevich Bede says.

After you follow the diet for a few days, your body enters ketosis, which means it has started to use fat for energy. Newbies on the diet find it helpful to track whether they’re in ketosis with a urine ketone strip or a blood-prick meter, but Nisevich Bede says you’ll eventually learn what ketosis feels like and will know whether you’re in it.

A Glance at What Eating on the Keto Diet Looks Like
The keto diet is all about increasing calories from fat and going very low carb. That means following a restrictive, keto-friendly food list.

Keto-Friendly Foods

Here are some of the foods you may eat on keto:

Oils (like olive oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil)
Avocado
Heavy cream
Butter
Cream cheese
Cheese
Coconut (unsweetened)
Nuts (almonds, macadamia) and seeds (chia seeds, flaxseed, sunflower seeds)
Leafy green vegetables (romaine, spinach, kale, collards)
Nonstarchy vegetables, including zucchini, asparagus, cucumber, broccoli, cauliflower, and bell peppers
Meats (chicken, beef, pork, lamb)
Eggs
Fish (particularly fatty fish like salmon and sardines)

What You Can’t Eat (or Drink) on the Keto Diet

Foods and drinks that you’ll avoid on the keto diet include many whole fruits (though some fruits are keto-friendly), dried fruits, whole grains, cold cuts, chicken nuggets, milk, ice cream, alcohol, and desserts.

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