health

14 Things Everyone Needs To Know About The Keto Diet

by Desirée O

There’s a very good chance that at least one of your friends is trying out the keto diet or that you’ve come across an article praising its miracle-like results. That’s because it’s currently the hottest diet trend around. Not only are normal people trying it, but even celebrities like Halle Berry, Vanessa Hudgens, Megan Fox, Adriana Lima, and Kourtney Kardashian are reportedly giving it a go.

If you’re not quite sure what it is, the ketogenic diet requires you to eat plenty of fat, moderate amounts of protein, and very few carbohydrates. Basically, it’s the complete opposite of what most people who live in North America are used to eating.

While the keto diet can result in various health benefits — including massive weight loss — there are a few things that you should be aware of if you’re thinking of trying it out for yourself.

Read below to find out more about the keto diet.

1. It Will Completely Change the Way You Eat

1. It Will Completely Change the Way You Eat
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If your diet is like most people’s in the United States, then your daily food intake is probably made up of approximately 50% to 65% carbohydrates. However, when you switch over to the keto diet, your daily calories are made up of roughly 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% carbs. So instead of shying away from meat and butter, you’ll want to order an extra steak and maybe even some bacon.

2. It Will Dramatically Affect How Your Body Uses Food

2. It Will Dramatically Affect How Your Body Uses Food
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While on the keto diet, your body will enter a state called ketosis, which is when you’re not getting energy via carbs, so your body burns fat instead. Because of this, you’ll start to produce ketones, which will then give you the energy you need.

3. It Can Be Customized

3. It Can Be Customized
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Although the general keto guidelines say that you should be consuming around 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% carbs, those levels are meant to help you reach ketosis (mentioned above). However, if you find that those numbers aren’t getting you to where you need to be, then you can easily customize your diet by raising or lowering the percentages.

4. It Takes Times for Your Body to Adjust and Adapt

4. It Takes Times for Your Body to Adjust and Adapt
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The keto diet not only requires you to make major changes when it comes to what you eat, it also makes major changes to the way your body functions, which means that it can take time to take effect and even longer for you to see the results that you’re looking for.

However, it’s important to remember that if you’re having trouble reaching ketosis and/or don’t start seeing health benefits and weight loss right away, don’t give up! Just give yourself more time.

5. It’s Unclear If It’s a Long-Term Option

5. It’s Unclear If It’s a Long-Term Option
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It’s currently unclear if the keto diet is a long-term option or something that should be taken on periodically. While some might advise you to stick with the diet so that your body isn’t constantly shifting in and out of ketosis (which can mess up your metabolism), we still don’t yet know how the diet can affect you if you’re on it for years. That’s why it’s best to consult your doctor to determine the best option for you.

6. It Can Help With Weight Loss

6. It Can Help With Weight Loss
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Weight loss might be the No. 1 reason people take the keto plunge, thanks to the fact that dropping pounds can be fast and drastic on the diet. When you make the switch to eating plenty of good fats, your body becomes proficient at burning them, which makes you feel full for longer periods of time. You’ll also no longer be relying on food that makes you pack on unnecessary weight.

However, if the weight doesn’t start melting off immediately, don’t freak out! The keto diet might not affect you the same way as others (more on that below).

7. It Offers Numerous Potential Health Benefits

7. It Offers Numerous Potential Health Benefits
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While much of the buzz around the keto diet is focused on its ability to help you lose weight, there are plenty of other potential health benefits that can make this an option that you might want to consider.

The keto diet can help improve blood sugar, insulin levels, and cholesterol numbers, and it’s even being considered for cancer patients to help slow down the growth of tumors.

8. It Can Cause Fatigue and Dizziness

8. It Can Cause Fatigue and Dizziness
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As you adjust to the keto diet, you might experience both fatigue and dizziness. One of the reasons people might see an immediate drop in their weight is because your body begins to lose excess water as you consume fewer carbs. However, this can also lead to mineral loss. If this happens, you might feel occasionally zapped of energy and could experience temporary dizzy spells.

Thankfully, as your body adjusts to the ketosis, the brain fog should pass. You can also up your sodium intake and eat some potassium-rich foods to help you through the rough patch.

9. It Can Cause Strength and Endurance Loss

9. It Can Cause Strength and Endurance Loss
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You might also experience a loss of strength and endurance when you begin the keto diet. This is because your body is used to relying on carbs for energy, and when that source of fuel is suddenly taken away, your system needs time to figure out how to adapt. Once you start burning fat, there’s a chance that you’ll feel even more energetic than before.

10. It Can Cause "Keto Flu"

10. It Can Cause "Keto Flu"
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As your body weans off carbs and learns to rely on fats, you might not only feel groggy and lose strength but also experience the dreaded “keto flu.” Just like the normal flu, this batch of unpleasant symptoms can have you battling nausea and headaches while making frequent trips to the bathroom. Again, water is your best bet for a little relief.

11. It Can Cause Leg Cramps

11. It Can Cause Leg Cramps
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Drinking plenty of water will also help with nasty leg cramps that could pop up for the same reason that you might experience dizziness. The water loss and lack of minerals — specifically low electrolytes — that come along with reaching ketosis can cause dehydration. With dehydration comes painful cramps. So again, drink as much water as possible, and make sure you’re getting enough sodium and potassium.

12. It Can Cause Bad Breath, Gas, and Constipation

12. It Can Cause Bad Breath, Gas, and Constipation
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When your body reaches ketosis, it will start releasing ketones, and unfortunately, these ketones are released via your breath (which might be on the stinky side). And that’s not all — when you suddenly start eating more fats and protein, your body can experience gastrointestinal issues such as gas and constipation. Again, this will hopefully be temporary as your body adjusts to your new diet, but it’s definitely not a pleasant side effect to wait out.

13. It Won’t Necessarily Affect You the Same as Your Friends

13. It Won’t Necessarily Affect You the Same as Your Friends
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Everybody is different, and every body reacts differently to changes in diet. Reaching ketosis can happen incredibly quickly for some but might take a little longer for others. The same goes for seeing the results of the diet.

Various factors can alter how the keto diet works for you, including your preexisting diet, any health problems, and the amount of weight you have to lose in the first place (if that happens to be your goal). Don’t get frustrated if keto isn’t the overnight miracle diet that it’s been for your friend — just give it time.

14. There Are Plenty of Resources to Help You Out

14. There Are Plenty of Resources to Help You Out
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Because of its current popularity, there are plenty of keto resources that you can find online. Along with tips, advice, and recipes, you can even get ketone test strips at your local Walmart to see if you’ve reached ketosis (yes, you have to pee on them).

There are also online groups where you can find help while you attempt this hard-core and potentially life-changing diet.

Not every diet is right for every body. Certain health conditions could be exacerbated by this food program. Before you start any major diet, make sure to check with your doctor to be certain your body is ready for all the changes.