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What Is The Keto Diet?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Just in time for your New Year's resolutions, U.S. News and World Report crowned its No. 1 diet for overall health -- the Mediterranean Diet.

The diet with the most Google searches in 2018 came in 38th -- the keto diet.

So, what is keto? Good Question.

"We've had Atkins and South Beach," says Deb Sheats, a professor of dietetics at St. Catherine University. "The twist is that it's much higher in fat."

There are a few versions of the popular diet, but it's generally 70 to 75 percent fat, 20 to 25 percent protein and 5 percent carbohydrates.

As an example, Chipotle's new keto salad bowl is made of lettuce, carnitas, red salsa, cheese and guacamole.

"Keto comes from the word ketosis, which means our body is burning fat," says Sheats.

By limiting carbohydrates, the keto diet forces the body to use a different type of fuel. Instead of burning carbs, the body burns ketones, which is an alternative form of fat.

"It's something we often do in starvation mode, actually," says Sheats.

Doctors discovered the ketogenic diet in the 1920s when they found it helped children with epilepsy control their seizures.

There are many dietitians and doctors who caution against the keto diet because its risks can include liver problems, kidney stones, constipation and lack of nutrients.

But, dieters who've done keto say it's a quick way to lose weight. Stories of anywhere between losing five to 100 pounds are all over the internet.

"They are losing weight but we don't have long-term studies, so what we see in the short-term studies people lost weight quickly but the question is how sustainable is the diet," says Sheats. "Most people will gain the weight back or more, so we get yo-yo dieting."

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