The term diet is not foreign for most today. With all kinds of diet forms emerging, curated to serve individual needs and goals from fitness to health and weight loss, you’d hardly find a health-conscious person not following one. One such popular diet form is the ketogenic diet or a ‘keto’ diet.
What Is A Keto Diet?
Our body’s energy usually comes from glucose that is from the carbohydrate foods we consume. But what will happen if we stop providing our body with the carbohydrates it requires? Under such circumstances, the body switches from burning carbs to burning fat (ketones) under a process called ‘ketosis’ and hence the name ‘keto’ diet.
This precise aim of letting the body burn fat to get the energy it requires, i.e., sending the body in the process of ketosis makes keto a low-carb and high-fat diet. The calorie breakdown ratio for a typical keto diet is 70-75% fat, 20-25% protein, and 5-10% carb, which may further vary as individual needs and body types.
Foods to avoid – everything with high carbohydrates such as rice, bread, conventional baked goods, pasta, and usual skips from legumes, starch vegetables such as potato, certain fruits, and root vegetables.
Allowed foods – are high in fat content, such as fish, red meat, nuts, high-fat dairy, low-carb leafy vegetables, etc.
Benefits Of Following A Keto Diet
Since we now know what a keto diet looks like, let us see how it promotes good health and benefits fitness goals.
Stimulates Weight Loss And Reduces Appetite
Several studies suggest a low-carb diet is much more effective in helping one lose weight than a low-fat diet. The two main methods include stimulation to the metabolism and reduction of the appetite.
The intake of higher proteins, burning existing fat to provide the required energy, and improved insulin sensitivity all help a person lose weight quicker. It burns fat and shows results as fast as two to three weeks. Since a keto diet makes the body reduce excess water, it is perfect for lowering insulin and managing blood sugar levels.
Moreover, since restricting oneself from eating out of hunger is the hardest part about being on a diet, this low-carb diet’s ability to reduce a person’s appetite makes it one of the most appealing among others. Consuming more protein and fat and cutting on the carb naturally makes the person less hungry than other diet forms, making it easier to follow through.
Promotes Heart Health
When consumed mindfully and healthily, a keto diet can help improve heart health with lowered risk of cardiovascular diseases and heart attacks. Consuming healthy fats such as avocados instead of meat is an excellent way to lower cholesterol levels, making the heart healthy and disease-free.
A keto diet not only increases high-protein lipoproteins(HDL) or ‘good’ cholesterol but also cuts out the negative effect of ‘bad’ LDL particles and triglycerides. It does so in two ways, i.e., reducing the number of LDL particles in the bloodstream and increasing the present particle’s size, lowering the risk of heart diseases, unlike the smaller particles, which increase this risk.
However, maintaining a diet quality with balanced nutritional and healthful food is the only way to reduce cholesterol levels.
Lowers Insulin And Blood Sugar Levels
A keto diet is considered one of the most beneficial diets for those with diabetes or insulin resistance. Several studies have approved the benefits of a low-carb and ketogenic diet as it lowers blood sugar and insulin levels, with evident improved results on patients.
People with type two diabetes are also known to benefit from a keto diet with the reduced glucose-lowering medication needed for their treatment. It is, however, imperative to consult a doctor before making changes to your diet if you are on any medication as it can do more harm than good if carelessly supervised.
Reduced Risk Of Seizures And Other Brain Disorders
While many studies suggest a positive effect of following a keto diet on people with epilepsy with a reduced risk of seizures, among other symptoms, several others are yet to explain restrictive diets and their effects on other brain disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s, etc.
Since the keto diet prompts ketosis in the body by altering how the body uses energy, direct links to this process are especially helpful for those not responding to other treatment methods and children with focal seizures.
Several Other Benefits Of A Keto Diet Include
- Reduced blood pressure levels, in turn, eliminating the risk of related diseases.
- It effectively reverses metabolic syndrome symptoms, a condition associated with the risk of heart diseases and diabetes.
- It gives a boost to skin health, especially for those suffering from acne.
- Though not thoroughly studied, a keto diet links to a reduced risk of certain cancers, with equal benefits in treating one alongside other cancer therapies.
- PCOS symptoms, a hormonal disorder, are also claimed to be improved with following a keto diet.
The Potential Risks Of A Keto Diet
While a keto diet is known to boost weight loss, have you wondered if it is long-term or short-term and if or not there are side effects? There is a flip side to everything, and a keto diet is no different, with its own set of risks and complications given below.
A sudden change in the diet to low carb can adversely affect the body as it adjusts to this new eating habit. Some of these include – constipation, low tolerance for exercise fatigue, low blood sugar, nausea, vomiting, and headaches.
These symptoms, however, only last a week or two and eventually go away once the body gets used to the diet.
Weight Loss May Reverse
Since carbs can hold more water than fats and proteins, cutting down on them can make the body lose all of that stored water, which leads to a drastic loss in weight. The same is why this weight loss is considered short-term, and as soon as one shift from this strict diet, the lost weight starts coming back.
Constipation And Diarrhea
A low-carb diet means a restriction on high-fiber foods such as whole grains, etc., which, when combined with the excess water loss, undoubtedly leads to constipation. One way, however, to cure this is to consume keto-friendly fibers.
Bile is a kind of natural laxative our liver releases whenever we consume high-fat food. Since keto is replacing carb with fat, the liver is stimulated, releasing more bile, resulting in diarrhea and loose stool.
Excessive Thirst And Bad Breath
Ketones are the by-products of when your body goes under the process of ketosis. These ketones are released through the body as you exhale, and since these are the same chemical found in nail polish removers, one might even face bad breath issues.
Being thirsty all the time is another prominent but tiring side effect. Since the body already had lost most of the water without carbs, it is only natural that you feel more thirsty, more often.
Being on a keto diet for long can result in adverse health effects such as – kidney stones, mineral and vitamin deficiency, excess protein in the blood, and fat build-up in the liver.
The keto diet is among the best diet forms out there, with many practical and evident results to prove it.
However, the only way to ensure that it is suitable for you and does not harm your health is to consult a nutritionist or a doctor. Get a body checkup done for potential risk factors and customize a diet plan as per your body requirements.
Several studies are yet missing to prove how it affects certain conditions with many people—such as those with an eating disorder, pregnant women or breastfeeding, etc.