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Published on May 27, 2020

Keto diet book and food

The Keto Diet Explained

If you've read any health news lately or been on social media, it’s hard to ignore that the Keto diet is popping up everywhere! 

In fact, there has been so much buzz about the diet that “What is the Keto diet?” ranked as the most Googled health-related question of 2018.

We asked EvergreenHealth Dietitian and Diabetes Health Educator, Abrey Lee, RD, CDE, to explain the Keto diet.

Abrey Lee: Despite its enormous popularity, there is much confusion surrounding the Keto diet, which has avid advocates and critics alike.

Adding to the confusion: the Keto (short for ketogenic) diet consists of very little carbohydrates, focusing on proteins and fats. This leads many to assume it is similar to the popular Atkins diet of the 1990’s. However, this is not the case.

While both diets focus on limiting carbs, the Keto diet also restricts protein amounts, unlike the Atkins diet that has no limit, and emphasizes consuming certain fats.

The human body normally runs on glucose, or carbohydrate, for energy.

When the body is depleted of carbohydrate, the body converts fat to a substance called ketones, which the body can use as energy.

To achieve ketosis, a diet must be very high in fat, moderate in protein, and very low in carbohydrate (one apple’s worth).

Proponents of the ketogenic diet tout that it leads to increased fat burning, accelerated weight loss and suppressed hunger.

However, keep in mind that following the ketogenic diet means eliminating major food groups including whole grains, beans, fruits and milk. These food groups all deliver important nutrients including calcium, potassium, Vitamin A and D and fiber.

Lastly, it’s important to realize that most research on the ketogenic diet include 2-3 year long studies, meaning research cannot tell us how this type of diet can impact our health long term.

There are several concerns currently being explored including bone lose, decreased kidney function, and heart health problems.

If you’re considering starting a new diet, especially one as limiting as the ketogenic diet, I encourage you to meet with your doctor or schedule an appointment with a dietitian who can help consider your individual health needs and lifestyle, and set you up for healthy success.

Expert IconMeet the Expert

Abrey Lee, RD, CDE

Abrey Lee has a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition, and enjoys working alongside patients to educate and empower them to reach their nutrition and lifestyle goals. She believes in creating sustainable changes with her patients and creating healthier habits that will last a lifetime.

Learn more about the Diabetes Education and Nutrition Services at EvergreenHealth.

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