It’s all the rage. The internet is filled with stories of how everyone from movie stars to ordinary people have shed stubborn pounds with the ketogenic diet. Some suggest that this eating pattern also may be helpful for managing diabetes and warding off Alzheimer’s disease. So, is it a miracle diet or just the latest fad?
What Is Keto or Ketogenic Diet?
“Ketogenic” is a term for a low-carb diet (like the Atkins diet) and is generally known as Keto. The idea is for you to get more calories from protein and fat and less from carbohydrates.
On a keto diet, carbs from all sources are severely restricted. With the goal of keeping carbs below 50 grams per day, keto dieters often consume no breads, grains or cereals. And, even fruits and vegetables are limited because they, too, contain carbs. For most people, the keto diet requires making big shifts in how they usually eat.
What are Ketones?
Ketones are chemicals that are produced by the liver. Human body produces them when there is not enough insulin in the body to turn to glucose or sugar into energy. If there isn’t enough insulin, the human body will look for another alternative, thus, the body uses fats.
Liver turns the fats into ketones, a type of acid and sends it back into the bloodstream so that the muscles and tissues of the body can use them as a fuel. For a person with diabetes, it can be an issue as the body produces a lot of ketones than necessary and that can be threatening. But for a person without diabetes, it is not an issue.
Types of Keto Diets
There are a lot of ways in which ketosis can be brought about and therefore there are different types of keto diets. Some of the common ones are mentioned below.
Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD):
Standard Ketogenic Diet is a very low carb, moderate protein and high fat diet. This kind of diet contains 75% fat, 15-20% protein, 5-10% carbs.
Fats in the diet should provide the major amount of calories in the diet. No limit is set for the energy requirements as it varies from person to person. Ketogenic diets should include a lot of vegetables (low on starch) as they are very low on carbohydrates.
Standard Ketogenic Diets have shown consistent results that have helped people in losing weight, improve blood glucose level and improving heart health.
Well-Formulated Ketogenic Diet (WFKD):
The term “Well-Formulated Ketogenic Diet” comes from Steve Phinney, one of the most prominent researchers in Ketogenic Diets.
A Well-Formulated Ketogenic Diet is very similar to a Standard Ketogenic Diet. A well-formulated diet means that the macronutrients of fats, carbohydrates and proteins meet the standard ketogenic diet’s ratio and therefore providing best ketosis occurring.
Medium Chain Triglycerides Ketogenic Diet (MCTKD)
This type of diet follows the outline of Standard Ketogenic Diet but has more focus on using Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT) to provide most of the fat content of the diet.
The MCT ketogenic diet recommends that 30 to 60 percent of the fat intake in the diet comes from MCT fats. Good sources include MCT oil, coconut oil and coconut products, such as coconut milk and cream. Because MCT fats quickly convert into ketone bodies, without having to take the detour through the lymph system, an MCT ketogenic diet allows for a greater intake of carbohydrates and protein, potentially making it easier to follow the diet.
Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD)
A Targeted Ketogenic Diet is highly similar to Standard Ketogenic Diet except that carbohydrates are consumed during the time of workout.
It is a compromise between a Standard Ketogenic Diet and a Cyclical Diet that lets you consume carbohydrates every time you exercise. This type of diet is based on the concept that if carbohydrates are consumed before and after a physical effort, it will help the body to process it much more efficiently. This is because the demand of energy by muscles increases when the body is active.
High Protein Ketogenic Diet
A High Protein Ketogenic Diet includes more protein than a Standard Ketogenic Diet. It consists of 35 percent of protein, 60 percent of fat and 5 percent of carbohydrates. A High Protein Ketogenic Diet is proved to be very effective for weight loss.
Calorie Restricted Ketogenic Diet
In a Calorie Restricted Ketogenic Diet, the amount of calories that are to be consumed are pre-set but the diet plan is like the Standard Ketogenic Diet.
It is the most robust and effective diet plan that has been proven to show fascinating results. Research shows that ketogenic diets tend to be successful whether calorie intake is restricted or not. This is because the satiating effect of eating fat and being in ketosis tends to help prevent over-eating in itself.
What To Eat on Ketogenic Diet?
A ketogenic diet typically limits the intake of carbs to 25-30 grams, this may seem as a challenge to people but there are a lot of healthy options that one can consume while on a ketogenic diet.
- Low-Carb Vegetables
- Meat and Poultry
- Coconut Oil
- Greek Yogurt
- Cottage Cheese
- Nuts and Seeds
- Butter and Cream
- Dark Chocolate
- Unsweetened Tea and Coffee
Benefits of Ketogenic Diet
The Ketogenic or Keto Diet has proven useful in losing weight easily but not just it aids in weight loss, there are a lot of unexpected benefits of Keto that are explained below.
While a low-fat diet is often recommended for weight loss, but research shows that a high fat, moderate protein, and low-carbohydrate diet is much more effective at promoting weight loss. Thus, in a ketogenic diet, one consumes low carbs and high fat that help in losing more weight.
There are a lot of different causes of acne, one of them being blood sugar and unhealthy diet. Consuming food which is high in processed and refined carbohydrates can alter gut bacteria and can cause more dramatic blood sugar fluctuations which can have a direct influence on the skin. Therefore, by the reduced consumption of carbs and having a healthy lifestyle helps in reducing acne.
Improves Health In Women With PCOS
PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is an endocrine disorder that causes ovaries to enlarge with cysts. Women suffering from PCOS can have a negative impact on their health if they have a high carbohydrate intake.
There haven’t been a lot of studies that have actually proven the relation between keto and PCOS but in one study, 5 women were put on keto diet for 24 weeks and the results were:
- Increased Weight Loss
- Aided Hormone Balance
- Improved Insulin Level
- Improved Luteinizing Hormone (LH) and Follicle Stimulating Hormones (FSH)
Stabilising Blood Sugar Level
Diabetes is one of the most common diseases. About one-third of the population is prediabetic and might not even know that. Ketogenic diet is a safe and natural way to ensure that the blood sugar levels are in a normal and safe level. With a normal blood sugar level, you would not have to worry about taking high level of insulin, a hormone that over time causes you to pack on pounds and leads to diabetes if the level is too high. Doctors and nutritionists recommend keto diet to manage and reverse type 2 diabetes.
Fat is good for health but too much fat can have a serious impact on one’s health. A well-rounded keto diet helps to improve cholesterol by decreasing triglyceride levels, decreasing low-density lipoprotein (commonly known as bad protein) and increasing high-density lipoprotein (commonly known as good protein). Improving cholesterol is necessary as it can help prevent cardiovascular diseases like heart attacks and strokes.
In a study it was found that people on a keto diet didn’t phase much on little things like they used to when they were on a regular diet that included consumption of pasta and bread. This is because ketosis increases ketones which decreases inflammation and strengthens the connection between brain cells.
Eating a high-fat, low-carb diet naturally shuts down pesky sugar cravings. Without the drug-like addiction to carbs, you’ll experience freedom like never before.
High-fat foods leave you feeling satisfied, energetic, and with no thoughts of your next meal. Without thoughts of dinner or cake — or regrets about overindulging weighing heavily on your mind — you’ll be energised to focus on the things you love and care about.
Healthy Functioning of Brain
There have been studies that proved that ketogenic diet offers a lot of neuroprotective benefits. Ketogenic diet helps in treating and preventing conditions like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and sleep disorders. In a study, it has always been proven that ketogenic diet also improves alertness and cognitive functions.
Side Effects of Keto Diet
Undoubtedly, you might drop a few pounds when you go on a ketogenic diet, but here are a few side effects or complications that you should watch out for.
Keto Flu is one of the most common side effects of the ketogenic diet. One may experience this for a couple of weeks while entering a ketogenic diet. Some of the common symptoms of Keto Flu are fatigue, brain fog, dizziness, vomiting, nausea and stomach pain. This is because our bodies happen to function really well on carbohydrates and when the body switches to fat burning, it becomes less efficient in making energy.
It is usually accompanied by a lot of sugar cravings and this often leads to people giving up on the diet but if one stays determined to follow ketogenic diet, these symptoms wear off soon.
Any diet that prohibits you from eating fruits, vegetables and other kinds of food, your body is bound to leave other minerals and vitamins that are needed for your body and thus, your body becomes deficient. Therefore, doctors do not recommend ketogenic diet for long-term.
Also, a diet that is devoid of fruits and vegetables will tend to result in a long-term loss of macro-nutrients that can have other consequences, phew! On a ketogenic diet, your body sheds water, fat and glycogen which makes you lose sodium, potassium and magnesium.
Uh-Oh! Low carb diet causes a jump in cortisol which is a stress hormone. It can make you more irritable and also lower your libdo level. Being on a restrictive diet usually tends to mess up with your mood. Simply follow a diet that is rich in whole, unprocessed foods to improve health and boost your weight loss.
Rise in Cholesterol
The basic principle of Keto diet is to consume fats while avoiding carbs. Hence foods like butter, fatty meats, cheese and bacon become an integral part of your meals, raising cholesterol levels in your body considerably. The worst part is that these foods are rich in saturated fats, which produce an unhealthy LDL cholesterol. A rise in LDL is unsafe for everyone. It is particularly alarming for people with a history of cardiovascular diseases. Therefore, in order to ensure that your elevated cholesterol levels are not unhealthy for you, you should get yourself examined regularly.
Ketogenic diet helps body shed pounds by decreasing diet and maintaining muscle. However, this process can become quite risky if it is overdone. The diet helps form ketones when it enters a metabolic state, which are a by-product of ketosis. Excessive production of ketones can cause ketoacidosis, a condition in which excessive ketones cause dehydration by making the blood too acidic. In rare cases, this condition can lead to coma or even death.
Overall, eating a high amount of fat, moderate protein, and low amount of carbs can have a massive impact on your health – lowering your cholesterol, body weight, blood sugar, and raising your energy and mood levels. A ketogenic diet can be hard to fathom in the beginning but isn’t as hard as it’s made out to be. The transition can be a little bit tough, but the growing popularity of the clean eating movement makes it easier and easier to find available low-carb foods.