strawberry juice beside strawberry fruits
Juicing orange juice and pomegranate

I’m a dietitian. Here’s how I feel about the keto diet.

The keto diet is still everywhere.

This diet was developed to treat epilepsy in children, and is still used successfully for that purpose. But it has been co-opted by biohackers and people who want to lose weight.

In short, the idea of eating a ‘ketogenic diet’ is to induce ketosis, which is a state our bodies enter when we run out of glucose (most readily supplied by carbohydrates in our diet) to supply our energy needs. In that situation, our bodies switch to using stored fat, which gets turned into ketone bodies through a process called ketogenesis. These ketone bodies are used as energy by the body.

Although we can survive on a ketogenic diet, our bodies’ first line substrate for energy is glucose, which is produced when we eat carbs.

In the absence of carbs in the diet, a small amount of glucose can be made by the body from protein and fat, in a process called gluconeogenesis. Gluconeogenesis is an inefficient process, however, and doesn’t yield the amount of glucose that we’d have on a diet that contains even moderate carbs.

The whole ‘burning fat for energy’ thing is what attracts a lot of people to the keto diet for weight loss. And while keto has been shown to help some people lose weight and manage glucose levels better, let’s get the tough part on the table right away: this way of eating does have substantial challenges. 

First off, it’s restrictive. Getting yourself into ketosis requires eating a whole lot of fat – usually 70-80% of your calories, a moderate amount of protein, and a very low amount of carbs – usually under 5%

Remaining in ketosis is no easy feat and requires constant monitoring.  Many adults on a keto diet are probably not even in actual ketosis. That’s because getting into ketosis not only requires a higher-fat diet; if you eat too much protein, it will be broken down to glucose.

That’s why you’ll hear a lot of keto dieters talk about being ‘kicked out’ of ketosis by eating too much protein. How to get more fat to the keto diet is a legit search result on Google that’s getting a lot of hits, for the simple…

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