Over the course of two years, Amanda lost an incredible 88 pounds on a high-fat, medium-protein, low-carb diet — also known as the keto diet. (She also says she was influenced by the paleo diet, a close cousin to keto.) But, what is this oddly named regimen? And could it possibly be right for you? Maybe...
First off, keto is short for ketogenic, and the diet works by reducing the amount of carbs you put into your body, forcing it to burn up fat reserves in order to power itself. But, you might ask, how does the body shed fat so rapidly when all you’re eating is fat? After all, we’ve had “FAT BAD” drilled into our brains for so long that it seems tough to believe the health benefits of such a high-fat plan.
Well, here's how it works. People on keto diets typically focus on fatty meats, leafy greens, veggies, and eggs — but totally cut out sugars, refined grains, and fruit juices. And yes, there are lots of similarities between Paleo and keto diets, but very generally, Paleo diets tend to be extremely protein-focused, while this diet is heavy on fats and medium on protein.
The reason a bacon-y, buttery regimen could actually help you shed the weight has to do with how your body uses different kinds of food for energy. When we eat sugar and carbs, our bodies react by producing insulin to help regulate our blood sugar; believers in the keto diet say that insulin both encourages sugar to be stored as fat and prevents fat from being burned as energy. It’s the ol’ one-two punch — and why gobbling carbs can sometimes lead to gain unwanted weight.
The keto diet forces our bodies to access energy in a different way — we begin burning the fat that we eat and the fat that we store in our bodies. All good, right?
Well, not so fast. A study of children on the keto diet (the diet was originally developed to treat epilepsy) found that fully 15% of them had heart abnormalities, likely due in part to increased cholesterol. Now these children were on the strictest version of the diet — if you’re not epileptic then you'll likely have a cheat day here or there — but it’s important to keep track of your cholesterol levels if you embark on a high-animal-fat diet of any kind. No one wants to slim their waistline while hurting their heart. (Reddit)