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The Ketogenic Diet: Medical, Fitness, and Fad

The ketogenic diet has made it to the mainstream. Every time you’re in the checkout lane at the grocery store you’ll see a magazine, and often multiple magazines, with “keto” printed on the cover. Just another crazy “fad” diet, right? Well yes and no. Below I’ve broken down keto into three main categories.

Medical Keto

The original ketogenic diet was developed in the 1920s as method to reduce the occurence of seizures brought on by epilepsy. It was noticed that patients who had fasted were experiencing reduced seizure frequency, and that ketone bodies were produced by the liver as a result of the fasting. Since it was also noticed that a high-fat, low-carb diet produced ketone bodies, a “keto diet” was then used as treatment for epilpesy, resulting in successful treatment.

This original form of keto often had patients consuming about 90% of their calories from fat, 6% from protein, and 4% from carbs. This is very different from the “keto diet” that is popular in the fitness community, or in the general population of those who do not suffer from epilepsy.

Fitness Keto

In addition to reducing seizure frequency, it was observed that the keto diet resulted in fat loss. Because of this, it gained popularity in the fitness community as fitness enthusiasts have a high interest in improving their body composition, as well as the general public looking for a way to lose weight with some direction other than to just “eat less.”

Unlike those with epilepsy, practitioners of “fitness keto” do not have a need for a diet as high as 90% fat, but one with more protein to assist with muscle growth and recovery (or for more variety in food choice if done just for fat loss without resistance training). Because the state of ketosis is determined by the lack of carbohydrates, practitioners of fitness keto often consume a diet of 55% to 60% fat, 30% to 35% protein, and 5% to 10% carbs.

Many weightlifters, athletes, and those who incorporate some form of physical training into their lifestyle also strategically use carbs with a cyclical and/or targeted ketogenic diet approach. In short, cyclical keto is when one periodically has a “carb up,” and targeted keto is when one targets carb consumption pre-excercise in order to utilize the quick energy carbs can provide.

Fad Keto

Ketogenic diets are nothing new. Bodybuilders started using them as far back as the 1950s to lean out, and since then there have been many, many people who have seen success from a ketogenic approach. However, over the last decade it’s popularity has really taken off, much due to online forums and social media.

Because of the more recent popularity of the keto diet online, companies realized and opportunity to capitalize on the trend. As a result, various supplements, food products, magazines, and cookbooks have emerged. Though magazines with information on the diet and cookbooks with keto recipes may be valuable resources, keto supplements and food “products” are in no way necessary for a keto diet. Keto is about removing items from your diet, not adding in supplements or special food products. A good keto diet has one removing carbs, and replacing them with fat and protein. It should focus on whole, natural foods.

Interested in trying the keto diet for yourself, but don’t know where to start?

Simple Keto Guide:

Custom Keto Plan: