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Everything You Need to Know About the Keto Diet

To me, dieting always seems like a chore — something that limits me from eating some of my favorite foods. (I’m looking at you, carbs!) In today’s day and age, it seems like diets are treated more as trends. Whether it’s a detox tea or a new diet advertised on social media, it seems like there’s a new diet trend every week.

It’s great to see that today’s world is more encouraging of healthy lifestyles, but at times, the diet possibilities are overwhelming — and they’re not always healthy or safe. Plus, it’s hard to know exactly which diets are real and which ones are too good to be true. We see so many people participating in these diets, so we naturally assume that they are healthy — sometimes without even researching the diets. One popular diet, the Ketogenic Diet (or Keto), recently became particularly popular. So I set out to debunk the myth (or not) about this diet. After talking to dietitian Ana Alvarez, I got the scoop on all things Keto.

What exactly is the Keto diet?

I began with finding out the basics of the Keto diet. I feel like today we hear about all these different ways to lose weight, but we don’t really do the research to understand what these diets actually entail. Alvarez finally helped me truly understand how the Keto diet helps one lose weight.

 “The Keto Diet is where you practice eating food items that have no carbohydrates,” Alvarez said. “It includes mainly protein and fat food sources. Eventually, you will go into Ketosis (where the body starts to break down fat and uses it for energy because there is no glucose to use), where you will develop an acid in your blood stream called Ketones.”

In other words, this process leads to your body “breaking down fat for energy and controlling your appetite and hunger. In time, you will begin to reduce weight quickly.”

This diet is a quick way to lose weight, but it is difficult because you have to give up carbs. Most foods that are easiest to make and eat in college include carbs — pasta, sandwiches, pizza, and many more. The Keto diet cuts out all of these foods, and it eventually leads to speedy results. We are a society obsessed with options and quickness, which is why these fad diets, like the Keto diet, are so popular.

Pros and cons

It’s important to be informed about whether or not a diet comes with risks. 

“The main risk is that you may experience Hypoglycemia, which can be dangerous,” Alvarez said. “There are many side effects such as: Increase thirst, urination, nausea, vomiting, bad acetone breath, lack of focus and fatigue.”

One of the more common of these effects is fatigue. Our bodies need a balanced array of foods to keep us feeling strong and one hundred percent. Alvarez explained how the Keto diet is not necessarily a healthy way to lose weight as “it’s recommended to eat a balanced diet with a variety of foods that has an adequate amount of carbohydrates for energy throughout the day.” This isn’t the end of the world; You can always make up for the lack of carbs by taking supplements. If you’re trying out a new diet, just be sure to double check possible side effects. Of course, not all that glitters is gold. Green drinks may look beautiful on Instagram, but keep in mind that they don’t always taste how they look. It’s not a huge con, but it’s something to stay realistic about. When I saw people posting about juicing, I never imagined how much they actually smell — that is, until I actually tried one this summer.

There are also so many benefits that come from the Keto diet.

“It is very interesting because some people experience an increase in energy when they first start and also reduce their water retention if they had any,” Alvarez said. “As they continue for more than about six months, they eventually start the fatigue symptoms.” Alvarez also mentioned “there are benefits for those that suffer from epilepsy as this diet helps them to control their seizures.”

Perhaps the most obvious benefit is the improved lifestyle and healthy food choices. It’s always a good idea to treat your body well.

The best way to be healthier

We all want to have happy and healthy lives; This could be a driving reason for this increase in fad diets in the past few years. It’s a good feeling to do so by whipping up a green juice or being conscious of processed food intake. However, sometimes we take diets to extremes to fit this idea of obtaining the “perfect body.”  We are all different, and it’s important to understand everyone is affected differently — especially in regards to dieting and body image. What works for one person may not work for another. My biggest takeaway from my conversation with Alvarez was that there is more to losing weight and being healthy than just dieting.

“Dieting alone is not really the healthy way to go. Instead it is preferred when there is a plan with a schedule, this is key. The plan that is individualized for you,” Alvarez said.

There are tons of diets and workouts that could lead you to your health and fitness goals. The Keto diet isn’t the only one out there, but if you’re looking to reduce the amount of carbs you consume, it may be good to give it a try. Every diet has pros and cons, so do your research and make sure you are aware of them. Whether you want to create a strict workout regimen or you want to give Keto a try, make sure you listen to your body and do what makes you feel the best, happiest and healthiest version of yourself.

Caroline is a fourth-year sociology major at the University of Florida. She is from south Florida and loves to travel, cook, read, and listen to true crime podcasts.
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