The Ketogenic Diet: Is It Right for You?


The ketogenic diet has seen a dramatic increase in attention over the past several years. Designed to force a specific metabolic state known as ketosis, it requires high amounts of fat and virtually eliminates carbohydrates. Proponents argue that it results in dramatic and rapid weight loss, while detractors worry about high levels of saturated fats and poor nutrition. Use this guide to help you decide if going keto is the right choice for your weight loss goals.

What Is the Ketogenic Diet?

Originally designed to reduce or eliminate seizures in children who did not respond to medication, the ketogenic diet is now a popular weight loss regimen. It includes consuming primarily high-fat foods while severely limiting carbohydrate intake. Eating in this way induces a state of ketosis in the body, where the liver converts fat into ketone bodies. The result is a sometimes dramatic loss of body fat — something dieters genuinely appreciate.

What Foods Are Included?

Dieters wanting to follow a proper ketogenic plan are encouraged to focus on fat. It can make up as much as 90% of the calories consumed each day. Carbohydrates should be kept at 20-50 grams, maximum — or about one average banana. Protein must be limited to ensure ketosis is achieved. Allowed foods include:

  • Meats such as beef, ham, bacon, sausage, fatty fish, and eggs
  • Dairy including butter, cream, and unprocessed cheeses
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Healthy oils, such as avocado and coconut
  • Low-carb veggies, such as peppers, leafy greens, and broccoli

Does It Provide Proper Nutrition?

Most dieticians and medical experts recommend a balanced diet that focuses on plant-based foods. Lean meats and heart-healthy unsaturated fats round out the most popular eating plans. Since going keto entails the exact opposite, many people wonder if it can provide adequate nutrition.

With careful planning and proper supplementation, you can meet the body’s basic nutritional needs over short periods. However, you must be careful to limit the amount of saturated fat consumed. There is strong evidence that eating excessive amounts of these fats contributes to adverse health outcomes, including heart disease and obesity.

Who Should Go Keto?

Healthy adults looking to lose weight quickly may benefit from following a ketogenic plan. Side effects can include digestive upset, brain fog and confusion, memory loss, and a lack of energy. Additionally, it can seriously strain internal organs. If you have trouble with your liver or kidney or are worried about possible nutritional deficiencies, a more balanced approach may be better.

A ketogenic diet can jumpstart weight and fat loss by forcing the body into ketosis. However, it is not for everyone. Side effects can range from inconvenient to dangerous, and nutrition may suffer over long periods.