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Is the Keto Diet Right for You?

The lowest-carb diet of all, the keto diet is surging in popularity for weight loss, drug-free treatment of type 2 diabetes, better athletic performance and recovery, improved alertness and mental function, and overall health.

Short for “ketogenic,” its name comes from “ketones,” substances the human body makes when it breaks down fat to generate energy.

“Your body turns into a fat-burning machine,” says Eric Westman, MD, coauthor of Keto Clarity, and director of the Duke Lifestyle Medical Clinic in Durham, N.C. Normally, carbs—sugars and starches—are our first source of fuel. If they run out, the body uses both stored fat and fat from food as fuel. The trick for weight-loss is to shift into that fat-burning gear.

How to Eat a Low-Carb Diet

It’s estimated that the average American eats about 250 grams of carbs daily. A low-carb diet could be anything below 100 grams, but for anyone who is overweight and inactive, Westman recommends starting at 20 grams, and gradually increasing carbs once you’ve reached your weight goal to find your personal threshold. People who exercise a lot or are young can get away with consuming more carbs.

But how do you get down to consuming only 20 grams of carbs per day? Westman recommends this routine:

  • Meat, poultry, fish, seafood, and eggs: Eat as much per day as you like. 
  • Vegetables: Eat 2 cups (about 2 fistfuls) of leafy greens plus 1 cup of other, nonstarchy vegetables per day. 
  • Other foods: Up to 4 ounces of cheese and 2 Tbs. (total per day) of added fat, which may include heavy cream, half-and-half, butter, any type of oil, or mayo. 
  • Snacks: Anything from the meat group or some cheese. 
  • Beverages: Coffee, teas, water, or bone broth, but nothing that contains sugar or zero-calorie sweeteners. 
  • Don’t cheat.

    If you take medications, work with a health professional, as drug dosages will likely need to be adjusted.    

If you take medications, work with a health professional, as drug dosages will likely need to be adjusted.

Get the Facts About the Keto Diet

For more information on the Keto diet, try these Web resources:

Visit to find an informed health professional. 

More Keto Resources: