If you’ve spent any time on the internet exploring health, fitness, or nutrition in the past year, you’ve definitely been slammed with the new ‘Ketogenic-Diet’ or low carb diets taking over the fitness industry by storm. But what precisely is Ketosis, and what does it have to do with the Keto-diet?
Now, what are Keto basics?
The ketogenic diet is a food habit that puts your body into a form of Ketosis. To know Ketosis, it’s essential to understand how your body utilizes the three major macronutrients: carbohydrates, protein, and fat. In a regular diet pattern, carbohydrates are your body’s primary energy source (40 to 60 percent of your calories come from carbohydrates). Protein is predominantly used to build muscle (roughly 20 to 30 percent calories). Fat (20 to 30 percent of calories) is used to make essential blends utilized by your body and act as a backup source of energy.
In a ketogenic diet, carbohydrate intake is decreased to about 10 percent (roughly 20 grams of net carbohydrate per day). In comparison, fat is boosted to 60 to 70 percent of calories, whereas protein remains at 20 to 30 percent. The decrease in carbohydrate intake drives your body to use fat as its primary fuel source. As your body turns fat into fuel or energy, it leaves behind ketone bodies in the blood, creating Ketosis.
You’re literally burning fat for fuel!
What are the various types of Ketogenic diets?
There are a number of versions of the ketogenic diet, including:
- The standard ketogenic diet (SKD): This is a very low-carb, moderate protein, and high-fat diet. It usually contains 70% fat, 20% protein, and only 10% carbs.
- The cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD): This diet involves periods of higher-carb reseeds, such as five ketogenic days followed by two high-carb days.
- The targeted ketogenic diet (TKD): This diet makes you have carbs around workouts.
- High protein ketogenic diet: This is very similar to a standard ketogenic diet, but has more protein. The ratio is often 60% fat, 35% protein, and 5% carbs.
Note: Cyclical or targeted ketogenic diets are more advanced methods used by bodybuilders or athletes.
Is the Ketogenic diet a new way of eating?
If you’ve spent any time over time on your computer or phone googling the best ketogenic diet plans or diets for health and weight loss, you’ve most probably come across the Ketogenic (Keto) diet or ketogenic diet plans. It has become extremely popular among the health and fitness community, and it is also promoted by health gurus and nutrition experts alike. Guess now we know why!
Let’s break it down (ahem, pun intended); your body usually uses glucose for energy-which you probably already know. But the thing that you may not know is that when this energy source is not sufficient, your body taps into its fat stores (body fat) and fatty acids to the liver, where it is processed and generates its own energy source known as Ketones. This metabolic state is known as Ketosis and is critical to the diet’s success.
Have a glance at what eating on the Keto Diet looks like!
The keto diet is about increasing calories from fat and going very low in carbs. That means following a restrictive, keto-friendly food list.
Here are some of the foods you may eat on keto:
- Oils (like olive oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil).
- Heavy cream.
- Cream cheese.
- Coconut (unsweetened).
- Nuts (almonds, macadamia) and seeds (chia seeds, flaxseed, sunflower seeds).
- Leafy green vegetables (romaine, spinach, kale, collards).
- Non-starchy vegetables, including zucchini, asparagus, cucumber, broccoli, cauliflower, and bell peppers.
- Meat (chicken, beef, pork, lamb).
- Fish (mainly fatty fish like salmon and sardines).
Here’s a list of foods that need to be reduced or eliminated on a plant-based ketogenic diet:
- Sugary foods: soda, fruit juice, smoothies, cake, ice cream, candy, etc.
- Grains or starches: wheat-based products, rice, pasta, cereal, etc.
- Fruits: all the fruits, except tiny portions of a few berries like strawberries.
- Beans or legumes: kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, and more.
- Root vegetables: potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, etc.
- Low fat or diet products: low-fat mayonnaise, salad dressings, and condiments
- some condiments or sauces: barbecue sauce, honey mustard, teriyaki sauce, ketchup, etc.
- Unhealthy fats: processed vegetable oils, mayonnaise, etc.
- Alcohol: beer, wine, liquor, mixed drinks
- Sugar-free diet foods: sugar-free candies, syrups, puddings, sweeteners, desserts, etc.
What are the benefits of a Ketogenic diet?
Starting a ketogenic diet for diabetes management offers a range of valuable advantages.
The main benefit or advantage of the ketogenic diet is its power to achieve quick weight loss, stopping carbohydrates from being in a state of Ketosis, resulting in both a significant reduction in body fat and an enhancement of muscle mass.
A few studies show that low-carb, ketogenic diets are able to achieve substantial weight loss over an extended period, and obese people were able to lose, on average, 20 kg over a period of a year.
Lower insulin levels
When you intake foods with carbohydrates and, to a lesser extent, protein, you increase your blood sugar levels—insulin steps in to decrease those blood sugar levels to create glucose in your cells for energy. But high insulin levels, which can result when you eat too many carbohydrates — can prevent weight loss. On a ketogenic diet, you keep insulin levels decreased. Low insulin means that your body can easily access fat stores for energy or fuel.
A ketogenic diet also helps balance other hormones, besides insulin. With those hunger-regulating hormones is leptin, a hormone that asks your brain to quit eating. Ghrelin has the opposite effect: This hormone tells you to eat more and more. When these hormones stay balanced on a keto diet, you’re less likely to have hunger and cravings.
Lower inflammation levels.
Chronic inflammation plays a role in obesity and diseases, including diabetes. You keep your sugar and overall carbohydrate intake very low while you’re on a keto diet.
Treatment of Cancer
A few studies have revealed that ketogenic diets play an essential role in treating cancer. Such a diet reduces tumor growth and improves the survival rate. A ketogenic diet further potentiates the effect of radiation and chemotherapy.
A high protein and fat diet decreases appetite keeps hunger pangs at bay and reduces the overall intake of calories. Ketone bodies have appetite-suppressant action, and thus, it reduces energy intake. A low carbohydrate diet, particularly a low intake of simple sugars and refined foods, further helps weight loss and reduces abdominal fat.
Note: People on keto diets also report more energy, focus, and mental clarity.
Is the Ketogenic diet a safe one?
It’s difficult to imagine that a physician-recommended diet would be unsafe. Still, then again, doctors used to demonize fat and are now actually recommending fat; pretty interesting when you think about it. But yes, the Ketogenic diet is absolutely safe; although, there are a few things to keep in mind when you’re starting your Keto Diet.
Foremost, when you start the diet, you’ll most likely feel a bit dehydrated if you’re not staying on top of your water intake (64 oz minimum). This is simply because glycogen, converted from carbs, holds approximately 2-3 grams of water per gram of glucose in the muscles’ cells. But by almost eliminating carbohydrates from your diet, your muscle cells hold much less glucose and, therefore, less water, ultimately leading to dehydration. So sufficient water intake is vital throughout the diet.
Secondly, our bodies obtain several vital vitamins and minerals found in various fruits and carb sources, so it is critical to get these from low-carb fruits, leafy greens, and if you prefer, a vitamin or multivitamin. If you are stressed about which vitamins or minerals your body could be lacking, you can always consult your doctor and ask for a blood analysis of your vitamin and mineral levels, with guidance from a nutritionist, supplement with one or multiple vitamins (this is better than just taking a standard multivitamin).
For most people, adopting a keto diet means a sudden change in the macronutrients you consume. You eat more non-starchy vegetables, butter, oils, cheese, meat, and seafood. Following a food plan or pattern that limits your net carbs to 20 grams a day requires you to carefully choose your foods to get all the vitamins and minerals your body needs. Knowing the carbohydrate content of foods and the fiber-versus-starch breakdown of nutrition is vital to maintaining a ketogenic diet. Sometimes, you may need to have a multivitamin supplement. Moreover, this diet pattern is not recommended for diabetics or pregnant or nursing women. As with any significant change in your food consumption, choosing to start a ketogenic diet should be done under the knowledge of a physician and registered dietitian.
And there you have it, a complete breakdown of the Ketogenic diet. Now, what are you waiting for? Ditch the doughnut and enjoy a delicious steak; your body’s waiting!