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What is the keto diet?

When you eat carbohydrates such as grains, legumes and fruits, your body begins to process glucose. In the traditional diet, glucose is the energy source of your metabolism.

Very different is the keto diet because the goal (on this diet) is for your body to use a different energy: ketones..

Ketones is a type of energy that the liver produces from stored fat. Burning that fat looks great for you to lose weight. But, to get the liver to produce ketones, you need to suppress carbohydrates to less than 20-50 grams a day. (You should keep in mind that it will take you a couple of days on the keto diet for you to achieve a state of ketosis in your body.)

What and how do you eat with the keto diet?

As the keto diet requires a high fat content, it should be consumed at all meals.

On a 2,000-calorie diet, you'd need to eat:

  • 165 grams of fat

  • 75 grams of protein

  • 40 grams of carbohydrates

You must keep in mind that the average calories and the average fat, protein and carbohydrate percentages depend on your needs, and it is advisable to discuss it with your doctor.

Saturated fats such as palm oil and coconut oil are recommended in the keto diet, but also fats such as almonds, walnuts, seeds, avocado, tofu, and olive oil can be consumed.

Proteins such as beef, pork, bacon, and fish are staple foods of the diet.

What about fruits and vegetables in the keto diet?

All fruits are rich in carbohydrates, but in the keto diet you can consume berries such as strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries (in small portions). Vegetables are also rich in carbohydrates so in the keto diet consumption is restricted to greens such as spinach, kale, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, sweet chilies, onions, garlic, mushrooms, cucumber, celery, and summer pumpkins.


Risks attributed to the keto diet. *

  1. High consumption of foods with saturated fats. Saturated fats increase LDL ("bad" cholesterol) and this fat that is associated with heart disease.

  2. Nutritional deficiencies because not eating a greater variety of fruits, vegetables and grains runs the risk of deficiencies of micronutrients such as selenium, magnesium, phosphorus and vitamins B and C.

  3. The liver must metabolize more fat which can aggravate existing conditions in the liver.

  4. The kidneys help in the processing of protein and the keto diet is a protein-laden diet (the average daily protein intake for women is calculated at 46 grams and for men 56 grams).

  5. Constipation is a condition more prone to low consumption of foods rich in fiber such as grains, legumes, and fruits.

* The information expressed in this blog is based on comments given by Kathy McManus, MS, RD, LDN, Director of the Department of Nutritionand Director of the Brigham Diet Internship and The Women's Hospital.

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