What is the keto diet?

You’d have to have been living under a rock the past few years to not have heard about the keto diet. It’s popular, and for good reason! But what exactly is the keto diet? And what is it not? Here’s a short primer. 

First, “keto” doesn’t mean a particular kind of food. So when you see something that’s labeled “keto bread” or “keto cookies,” that doesn’t really tell you what’s in it. 

When a food is labeled “keto” in some way (keto safe, keto friendly, or just keto), that says more about what’s NOT in it than what is. What’s not in it is much in the way of carbs or other sugars you could burn for fuel. 

The word keto comes from the word ketosis. And what ketosis means is that your body isn’t getting enough carbs and other sugars to use for energy, so instead it’s using fat. When your body is using fat for fuel, that can be detected by the presence of ketones in your blood stream. And that means you’re “in ketosis.” 

But you don’t necessarily have to do a blood test to figure out if you’re in ketosis. If you’ve cut down on carbs and you’re losing weight — meaning you’re using up your body fat — that’s a good sign you’re in ketosis. You’ve cut the carbs enough that your body is forced to turn to your fat stores, so that’s showing up on the scales. 

That’s a good thing. And that’s keto.