You’ve probably heard or read about the keto diet on the news, but may have been wondering what it is! The “keto” is short for “ketosis,” a metabolic process in the body.  On a ketogenic diet, the body burns fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates because you’re eating a super low-carb diet that is also high in fat.

During ketosis, the body generates molecules called ketones, one of which is acetone. Because of its small size, acetone appears in our exhaled breath as an indicator of fat burn. This is where the LEVL device comes in to measure trace amounts of acetone in your breath, so you can tell when your body is burning fat—even if the scale isn’t moving.

How does a ketogenic diet work?

The ketogenic diet has been practiced since the 1920s and is based upon a solid understanding of physiology and nutrition science, says Dr. Axe on his website. It was originally designed to help epileptic patients with their seizures.  During ketosis, the body’s energy comes from ketone bodies in the blood rather than from glucose obtained from eating foods with carbohydrates. The body turns blood glucose (or sugar) to dietary fat.

What do you eat on a keto diet?

If you struggle to control yourself around carbohydrates, this super low-carb diet might help keep your craving and blood sugar spikes in check. You’ll be eating mostly foods high in fat and low in carbs, as well as non-starchy vegetables and high-protein, low or no-carb foods. Here are some foods you’ll be adding to your keto diet shopping list: olive oil, coconut oil, grass-fed butter, palm oil, macadamia nuts, seeds, grass-fed beef, spinach, tomatoes, chicken thighs, cheddar cheese and cucumbers to name a few. Those following very low carbohydrate ketogenic diets typically eat less than 50 grams of carbs/day.

Can a ketogenic diet help you lose weight?

Research has discovered that a keto diet can help you lose weight and reduce inflammation factors in the body. Some of the reasons the keto diet can help you lose weight include a reduction in appetite due to eating satisfying high-protein foods as well as a greater metabolic efficiency in consuming fats. A keto diet may also help with cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, epilepsy, as well as possibly acne problems and some cancers. The scientific community continues to study the long-term effects of this diet. Check out this video presentation that demonstrates how Dr. Jim McCarter spent a year tracking a ketogenic diet and its impact on his health and blood tests.

How will you feel on a keto diet?

The first few days on a keto diet might leave you feeling like you have brain fog, dizzy, and lethargic, according to what many people call “keto flu.” While your blood ketone levels are rising, you’ll likely experience fast weight loss that first week, most of that will be stored carbs and water being used up. Long-term keto diet followers report feeling increased brain focus and a ton of energy.  While your body is switching to full ketosis, it may take 7 to 30 days to change over[1]. Supplements might help with keto diet side effects of fatigue.

If you follow it correctly, a keto diet will help you lose fat and lose weight, but it may not be the best long-term solution for everyone. Learn more about how we lose fat.