“Ketogenic” is a term for a low-carb diet (like the Atkins diet). The idea is for you to get more calories from protein and fat and less from carbohydrates. You cut back most on the carbs that are easy to digest, like sugar, soda, pastries, and white bread.
For healthy people who don’t have diabetes and aren’t pregnant, ketosis usually kicks in after 3 or 4 days of eating fewer than 50 grams of carbohydrates per day. That’s about three slices of bread, a cup of low-fat fruit yogurt, or two small bananas. You can start ketosis by fasting, too.
A diet high in fat and protein but very low in carbs is called a ketogenic or “keto” diet.
Ketosis Health Benefits
Ketosis can have some benefits beyond weight loss. Doctors may put children who have epilepsy on a keto diet because it can help prevent seizures. Adults who have epilepsy sometimes eat modified Atkins diets.
Some research suggests that ketogenic diets might help lower your risk of heart disease. Other studies show that specific diets very low in carbs help people who have diseases such as:
- Metabolic syndrome
- Insulin resistance
- Type 2 diabetes
Researchers are also studying the effects of these diets on conditions including:
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Nervous system diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Lou Gehrig’s disease
Ketosis Symptoms and Side Effects
During the first week of a keto diet, you might start to feel bad. Some people call this the “keto flu,” but it isn’t an official medical condition. Some doctors think this is due to sugar and carbohydrate withdrawal. Or it could be because of changes to your gut bacteria or an immune system reaction. You might notice temporary side effects such as:
- Brain fog
- Trouble sleeping
- Sugar cravings
- Sore muscles
- Bad breath, also known as ketosis breath