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What exactly is the Keto Diet? | Your Best Life

The keto diet is one of the most popular diets of the year. Every January, thousands of people try to jump right into this way of eating.

TEMPLE, Texas — The keto diet is one of the most popular diets of the year and every January, thousands of people try to jump right into this way of eating.

In this week's "Your Best Life," 6 News Evening Anchor Leslie Draffin talked to a health professional about what keto is, what it's not, and how you can incorporate it into your life in a healthy way.

The keto diet has made headlines since it burst into the mainstream a few years ago. But what exactly is it?

According to Natural Grocers’ Nutritional Health Coach Helena Linzy, "The Keto diet is essentially just a diet that's high in healthy fat, moderate in protein and ultra-low carbohydrates. Generally speaking, carb-intake is kept to a ratio of less than 50 grams per day. And that number drops to 20 grams, if you're inactive."
Linzy said even though you're eating a lot of fat in the Keto diet, you also eat healthy proteins and an abundance of low carb non-starchy veggies. This can include things like broccoli, cauliflower and spinach.

The good news, and contrary to popular belief, fruit is allowed! 

"Yes, the Keto diet does allow you to eat some fruit, small amounts of fruit, and generally, these fruits will be low in sugar so think berries,” Linzy said.

According to Linzy, the Keto diet is meant to retrain your body to burn energy from fat instead of energy from carbs or sugar. 

"When you eat a lot of fat, your body produces ketones as an alternative energy source. Ketones are like this magical source of energy that can be used by the brain and in your body much the same way that sugar is used, but it's a much cleaner burning fuel source, and it's kind of just like a lasting energy fuel source," Linzy said.

The problem is, you can't jump right into Keto without risking something called the Keto flu. 

"So, symptoms of the Keto flu include headaches, low energy and brain fog, and this is literally your body detoxing from carbohydrate addiction. So, your body is so used to using sugar for energy and it hasn't yet built the metabolic machinery that's needed to burn fat and keytones. So if you cut your carbohydrates too much and too quickly, you run the risk of experiencing those unpleasant symptoms."

Linzy said you can avoid all of those symptoms by first doing a 21-day reset where you follow a Paleo diet first. This will help you slowly decrease your carb intake. Then you can cycle into Keto for four-six weeks and finally go back to Paleo. Paleo is a diet where you eat healthy proteins and fats along with a moderate amount of carbohydrates.

"Our bodies know how to burn fat for energy but because of our standard American diet. Our bodies have kind of forgotten that we've all been running on sugar. So, the four-six weeks there initially is to kind of retrain your body to burn fat after those initial four to six weeks then you go back to more of a paleo-style way of eating, and then maybe you can go do the Keto cyclically like only on the weekends."

Also remember, Keto isn't made to do forever but it can be beneficial for many people for many reasons.

"Anybody that's looking to improve their overall health can benefit from the keto diet. So, whether it be blood sugar balance, healthy weight, someone that's looking to support cognitive function-- your brain really loves to use ketones for energy so that can help with memory and focus."

But Linzy stresses, Keto isn't for everyone including women who are pregnant or nursing, children or teens, and diabetics.

Credit: Natural Grocers

She also reminds anyone thinking of starting keto to talk to your doctor first.

If you're interested in finding out more about the keto diet, Natural Grocers is hosting free seminars all month long.

You can register and find more details on the natural grocers website.

You can also hear more from Helena Linzy and Dr. Patricia Sulak, Thursday, January 9th at 6 p.m. They’re hosting a free seminar called “Food Fads & Supplements” at the Temple ISD Administration Building.

Credit: Natural Grocers