Everything you need to know about the Ketogenic Diet.
Even though the Keto Diet or Ketogenic Diet is busy making news now, the diet itself has been around since the 1920s. Interestingly enough, the diet was initially (and continues to be, in experimental stages) designed to treat epilepsy in children.
So, what is the Keto Diet?
The Keto Diet is, basically, a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet that helps the body produce ketones in the liver that are then used as energy. This is how it works:
The moment you eat something that is high in carbohydrate, your body produces insulin and glucose. Since glucose is the easiest for your body to convert and use as energy, your body will choose to do that over the others. The insulin produced helps process the glucose throughout your bloodstream. So when you eat a high-carb diet and your body uses glucose as the primary source of energy, the fat gets stored away. Now, the moment you lower your intake of carbohydrates, your body goes into what is called a state of ketosis.
Ketosis is what keeps your body going when you haven’t had food for a long time. It’s the state in which your body produces ketones by breaking down the fats in your liver. A Keto Diet, followed in a disciplined manner, will put your body into this state of constant metabolism. And this can be done by starving your body not of calories, but rather of carbohydrates. Since the Keto Diet is high on fat and low on carbs, your body will start getting its energy by primarily burning ketones.
How does the Keto Diet help in weight loss?
Besides boosting energy, the Keto Diet also helps you lose weight. That’s because in the Keto Diet your body uses fat as a source of energy thereby aiding weight loss. It also reduce your insulin levels. Insulin is a fat-storing hormone, so the moment the insulin levels drop your body basically becomes one fat-burning machine. According to some studies, the results of the Keto Diet on weight loss are a lot better than that many other low-fat diets.
To start the Keto Diet you will want to plan ahead. That means having a viable diet plan ready and waiting. What you eat depends on how fast you want to get into a ketogenic state. The more restrictive you are on your carbohydrates (less than 15g per day), the faster you will enter ketosis.
You want to keep your carbohydrates limited, coming mostly from vegetables, nuts, and dairy. Don’t eat any refined carbohydrates such as wheat (bread, pasta, cereals), starch (potatoes, beans, legumes) or fruit. The small exceptions to this are avocado, star fruit, and berries, which can be consumed in moderation.
What you can and cannot eat
Tubers such as potato and yams are completely avoidable as are fruits like oranges, bananas and apples. When you’re following the Keto Diet you are also supposed to avoid rice, wheat and corn as well as sugar sources such as honey. You can, however, eat eggs, chicken and beef, as well as lamb and fish (basically any and all kinds of meats locally available). The diet also encourages you to eat leafy greens such as kale and spinach as well as vegetables that grow above the ground (unlike tubers), such as cauliflower, broccoli, etc. While most weight loss diets will prohibit you from eating high-fat dairy products, the Keto Diet encourages you to have hard cheeses, butter and high fat cream among other things. Macadamia nuts, walnuts and sunflower seeds are also highly recommended, as are raspberries, avocados and blackberries. You can opt for artificial sweeteners that are low on carb as well as high-fat salad dressings and foods containing saturated fats.
What are the other benefits of the Keto Diet?
Since the diet boosts insulin sensitivity, it helps control blood sugar levels as well as keep your blood pressure in check.
Research also suggests that the Keto Diet can help you fight early signs of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. As mentioned earlier, it is also the recommended diet for children suffering from epilepsy.
Ketones are known to boost one’s mental performance. So when you’re on the Keto Diet, you will find yourself being a lot more focussed.
And, finally, since your sugar intake reduces while on the diet, it will help reduce acne and leave you with flawless skin.
Photograph: Jcomp – Freepik.com