Keto — you’ve probably heard about it, or seen some of the weight loss transformation stories on Instagram. But what the hell is it exactly? And how did it become the newest diet craze, offering people the ability to drop tons and tons of weight, in a short amount of time?

The ketogenic diet (or referred to as an update of the “Atkins” diet) was first introduced in the 1920s as a way to treat epilepsy, a seizure disorder. Medical professionals used the diet for two decades until modern epilepsy drugs were developed and it fell out of favor by the 1950s. 

Then, about 15 years ago, the diet reemerged. This time as a treatment for obesity and type 2 diabetes. Since then, it’s become the newest (and most effective) fad diet for people wanting to (or needing) an extreme weight loss solution — often times to remedy a health condition, or obesity.

And even your favorite celebs (Halle Berry and LeBron James) have incorporated the keto diet into fitness regimen to help them elevate their game.

We’ve enlisted expert help to get down to the bottom of the keto diet, so you can make the determination for yourself if you want to try it.

How does it work?

The diet is designed to get your body into a state called ketosis whereby your body is so low on carbohydrates it starts burning fat for fuel. “The ketogenic diet requires that you cut out carbohydrates in order to force your body to use ketone bodies as its major food source,” says Vanessa Rissetto, a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist who specializes in Weight Loss, Weight Management, and Medical Nutrition Therapy.  “You would keep your carbohydrate load low somewhere between 20-80 g depending on if you’re male or female, current weight etc and load and load up on lean proteins and healthy fats.”

What do people eat on keto?

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Expect lots of meat and veggies on your new keto diet. “Lean proteins like chicken, fish, lean cuts of steak like flank, and pork tenderloin” are a win according to  Rissetto. “You can also have eggs, and tofu. Cheeses are also a good source of fat and protein along with healthy fats such as avocado, olive oil, nuts and seeds. You would get your carbohydrates from non starchy vegetables like brussels sprouts, broccoli, spinach, cabbage, and cauliflower.”

What do you need to know before starting?

Many people think going keto means you can have endless amounts of meats, cheeses and fats, such as avocado. But be mindful of the amount of sodium and fat that you intake through the diet. According to Rissetto, “Focus on healthy fats in the right amounts — just because they’re “healthy” doesn’t mean you can eat as much as you want. The serving size of oil is 1 tbsp, or 1/2 of an avocado – this will help you continue to eat a varied diet while sticking to your plan.”

What are the ways to ensure success?

Like any diet transformation, there are a few things you’ll need to do to ensure success. Rissetto says the first thing it to “get a food scale, so you can measure out the appropriate servings of protein for your size and your goals.” Portion control will be extremely important to ensure that you’re not overeating on things that can be potentially harmful (such as cheeses and saturated fats).

“You also want to make sure that you plan ahead, always having keto friendly snacks on hand such as nuts, eggs, beef jerky to help ward off hunger,” she says. Don’t know which snacks you should try? Thankfully, there are now plenty of non-perishable options that you can take with you on the go, when you’re not able to plan ahead. A few good snacks options are Cacao + Greens, Catalina Crunch, The KTO-Bar, The KTO-C8 Chews, Moon Cheese, Coconut Jerky, zero calorie sweeteners such as Wholesome Sweeteners, or for the wine-lovers, even FitVine

And lastly, according to Rissetto, “You also want to hydrate, and get plenty of exercise – people forget that water helps with weight loss, and you need to make sure you’re consuming enough in order to help your digestion stay on track.Use an app like My Fitness Pal to help track your macros, and use ketone sticks so you know when you’re in ketosis – be mindful that this could take up to 7 days.