What Is the Ketogenic Diet?
A ketogenic or keto diet is a type of low-carbohydrate (low-carb) diet that centers on protein and fat.
The effectiveness of keto diets for weight loss is unknown. There are only short-term studies and doctors don’t know if it works in the long-term or what the risks might be.
What Foods Can You Eat on a Ketogenic Diet?
A keto diet has a high fat requirement and followers eat fat at each meal. For example, in a daily 2,000-calorie diet, that would mean dieters consume 165 grams of fat, 75 grams of protein, and just 40 grams of carbs.
Both saturated and unsaturated fats are allowed on the keto diet such as:
- Oils (olive, palm, coconut)
- Cocoa butter
Protein is consumed on the keto diet, and it doesn't matter if it’s lean protein or protein that is high in saturated fat such as beef, bacon, or pork.
Certain fruits and vegetables are permitted on a keto diet but those that are rich in carbs are discouraged. Some fruits and vegetables allowed on a keto diet include:
- Berries in small portions
- Certain fruits in moderation
- Leafy greens
- Swiss chard
- Brussels sprouts
- Bell peppers
- Summer squashes
What Are Risks of a Ketogenic Diet?
Ketogenic diets for weight loss have not been studied long-term and there are numerous risks that come with eating a high-fat diet:
- Constipation is common because the diet is low on fiber-rich foods
- The diet is high in saturated fat, which can increase cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease
- Nutrient deficiency is possible because many foods, including healthy fruits and vegetables, are not allowed
- Liver problems may be exacerbated due to the high fat content of the diet
- Kidney problems may develop due to the high protein requirements
- Confusion and irritability may occur due to lack of healthy carbohydrates
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