Shifting Through the Hype About Keto Diets

Diet trends come, and diet trends go. Walk into the nutrition section of a used book store and you’ll find high-carb, high-fat, and high-protein diets prescribed with equal zeal. But here we are. The year is 2018 and we’re talking about the Keto diet. 


We could also call it the caveman diet, the paleo-diet, the body reset diet or the zone diet. Pick your phrase—it’s all the rage right now. Fans of the diet claim that the diet helps to break down fat and build muscle, while bringing optimum clarity and even immunity from heart disease and diabetes.  


There’s studies to support these claims (how else did they end up on the internet?). But there’s also science saying the contrary: that ketogenic diets might actually increase cholesterol, and harm the digestive system.  


The jury is out on the ketogenic diet, but does that mean that it’s not for you? Let’s take a closer look at what’s on the menu for the keto diet, and just what kind of benefits it might bring about.  


What Can I Eat on a Keto Diet?  


Well, that depends. One strength of the diet is that it can be adapted to fit just about any lifestyle. That’s because as long as you’re getting seventy to eighty percent of your calories from fat, and hopefully about twenty percent from protein, you’re following the trendy diet.  


 Adherents of the diet vary—from the meat-heavy paleo diet to our plant-based keto friends. 


If you’re thinking to yourself, did they say plant-based? That’s right—the keto diet can be made vegan. Whereas most caveman diet following folks prefer to get their fat from fish, cheese, and meat, vegans can opt for nuts, avocado, and coconut to get their fill of healthy fats. Plus, hummus and vegetables is perfectly keto friendly.  


To keep your macros at the right level, you’ll want to avoid carb loaded vegetables like potatoes, yams, and carrots. You’ll also have to skip sugary fruit, including, well, most fruit.  


 If you can’t say no to bread or sweets, the keto diet might not be right for you. That’s not to say there isn’t awesome keto style bread—because there is.  


The ketogenic diet is all about choosing high fat, high protein food over foods that are high in carbs. That doesn’t mean you should be deep frying everything you eat since you want to look for nutrient-rich foods. 


Going keto requires determination, but if you can stick with it you just might like what you see.  


What are the Benefits of the Keto Diet? 


 If you are really curious about the keto diet, take a stroll down #keto and #paleo on Instagram. You’ll find a lot of pretty plates, but also quite a few people claiming the keto diet transformed how they look. We can assume that, with diet and exercise, the keto diet can help you lose fat and gain muscle—but is it too good to be true? 


Let’s ask the experts. A founder of the zone diet, Barry Sears, promises that the diet claims that a keto diet could help all of us reduce choric disease, get sick less often, and become our very best both physically and mentally. He’s a biochemist—so maybe we should trust him?  


So-called experts are torn on whether or not these benefits are realistic, or whether the diet is healthy long term. What most experts can agree on is that the diet is great for short term weight loss. Try the keto diet to lose weight? Great idea. 


Try the keto diet for a new you? Well, the long-term picture is much murkier. In studies on rodents, for what they’re worth, high-fat ketogenic diets were found to increase the risk of heart disease and liver failure. And that’s not just one study. It’s actually the scientific consensus surrounding keto diets since the zone diet originated nearly two decades ago.  


That’s not to say you shouldn’t read up on the diet and try it for yourself. It works for some people and it just might work for you. If your goal is weight-loss, the keto diet will help. 


As for us, we’ll trust our friends at Harvard and, well, people who spend their lives studying human nutrition. We’ll stick with what’s proven—a balanced diet, proven effective supplements, and a solid routine at the gym.