A ketogenic diet is one that is high in protein and healthy fats, but low enough in carbohydrates to trigger the condition of ketosis. This diet was originally developed to treat epilepsy, but is also currently used for weight loss and managing Type 2 diabetes.
There is a significant amount of glucose in the average diet, which the body uses for energy. When a body goes into ketosis, this means there is not enough glucose available to meet energy needs, so the body must metabolize fat for energy, in turn creating molecules known as ketones. This process should not be confused with ketoacidosis, which is a potentially life-threatening condition associated with Type 1 diabetes. Ketoacidosis occurs when ketone levels are higher than the diet allows.
Since ketosis is a necessary component of a ketogenic diet, not all low or reduced carbohydrate diets are ketogenic. The exact amount of carbohydrates that can be consumed while still maintaining ketosis varies depending on the individual metabolism and activity level. In general, most people can eat 50 to 60 grams of net carbohydrates and maintain ketosis. More active people can generally eat more carbohydrates, while those with sedentary lifestyles and lower metabolisms may need to consume smaller amounts.