On the surface, the keto diet is best described as a lower-carb version of a low-carb diet. In fact, the diet restricts carbohydrates to only 5 to 10 percent of daily calories, breaking down to between 20 and 50 grams a day for most people. But it’s also a very-high fat diet, prescribing that the bulk of one’s daily calories (70 to 80%) come from fat sources. This is significantly higher than any other popular diet, and leaves protein to make up just 15 to 25% of daily calories.
The ability to reach ketosis isn’t instantaneous. It happens after several consecutive days of strict adherence to eating very few carbohydrates (again, usually between 20 and to 50 grams per day). This means meals are based on meat, eggs, cheese, high-fat dairy (cream and butter), poultry, seafood, and plant-based fats like oil, nuts, seeds, and avocados.
What’s off-limits? Keto doesn’t restrict specific foods — just carbs and sugar — but to maintain the tight requirements, many typical foods must be avoided. This includes most fruits, starchy vegetables (potatoes, carrots, corn), whole grains, legumes, refined grains, sugar, and dairy.
Lastly, to stay in ketosis, you must keep carbohydrate levels extremely low to actually shift your body’s metabolic fuel source. These metabolic adaptations can make it difficult to “switch” back and forth to regular carbohydrate-based meals and snacks without gaining weight and upsetting your metabolic balance. This means that if you plan to go keto, you need to plan to go all-in.
5 things to know before going Keto:
- It can be hard to sustain
- It’s more of a lifestyle than a diet
- It can be hard to achieve balanced diet
- It eliminated added sugar
- It should be done under doctor’s supervision – especially at first