The keto diet seems to be the new flashy kid in the fitness block. It’s one of the most hyped diets. But, hold on the thought for a bit,
What was your resolution for this year again? If it was to lose weight, and you haven’t done that yet, you’re not alone. I couldn’t resist the burning need to find weight loss solutions for you. So my research led me to low-carb diets; keto diet to be specific.
This low-carb diet promises not only weight loss but also the cure to some chronic diseases. Which ones?
And, what exactly is the ketogenic diet? How does it work? And, does it live up to its promise? Find out that and more.
What Is a Keto Diet?
The ketogenic diet is designed to push the body to turn to fats and proteins as the primary sources of energy.
Basically, we keep the fats high, and proteins moderate while eliminating carbohydrates from your diet.
How Does Keto Dieting Work?
Usually, the body gets its energy from carbohydrates. Once you consume them, the body converts them into blood sugar, or glucose and uses it for energy.
The ketogenic diet, however, takes on the low-carb, high-fat approach to lose weight. When that happens, the body then turns to fats as a source of energy.
Hence, placing the body in a state called Ketosis – the process of maximum fat burning. It’s through Ketosis that the body turns fats into ketones, which then supplies the brain with energy.
What Are the Different Types of Keto?
The ketogenic diet has been modified into different types depending on the needs of different individuals. They include;
- The Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD) – In this approach, your diet should contain 75% fats, 20% proteins, and 5% carbs.
- The Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD) – Here, you opt between high-carb and low-carb diets. For instance, you follow up 5 keto days with 5 high-carb diets.
- Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD) – In this diet, you can add more carbs while working out
- High-protein Keto Diet (HKD) – The HKD works the same way as the SKD. However, in this one, the ratio changes from 75% fats, 20% proteins, and 5% carbs to 60% fats, 35% proteins, 5% carbohydrates.
The Standard Ketogenic diet is most common with those looking to shed some pounds. The other three are the most advanced types of a keto diet. Leave these to the bodybuilders and athletes. I know – you're only interested in losing weight. I promise I won't forget that.
What Are the Benefits of Keto Diet?
The keto diet, just like other low-carb diets, has had lots of controversies surrounding it.
However, forget about the hearsay, let's talk, and let's talk facts.
I find Keto to be more powerful than the typical high-fat and low-carb diets. The following are its notable benefits;
1. Possible Weight Loss
Make-no-mistake, eating foods with high-fat content might not necessarily lead to weight gain as people popularly believe. Yes – they lied to you.
In fact, people in high-fat and low carb diets tend to lose more weight faster than those in low-fat, but high carb diets like this study reveal.
Don't believe it? People on low-carb diets lose lots of water, hence the decrease in insulin levels and ultimate weight loss. We have shared additional tips for losing weight in this post.
And, get this – low-carb diets will suppress your hunger by suppressing your appetite. Yes, you can now save the extra bucks you've been using on snacks.
When that happens, you tend to consume fewer calories, hence faster weight loss.
2. May Improve Your Cardiovascular Health
When on the keto diet, it would do you best to choose healthy fats. Healthy fats such as avocados will do an excellent job in reducing cholesterol.
Cholesterol compromises your heart health. When you reduce them, you reduce your chances of heart complications.
However, to enjoy such benefits, you'll need to ensure the quality of your diet is high. Ensure the foods in your ketogenic diet are nutritionally-balanced.
3. Improves Acne
Acne causing you sleepless nights? Can’t look in the mirror anymore? How about you hop on the ketogenic diet.
Hormones, blood sugar, and diet are the leading causes of acne.
Take it slow on the heavily processed foods and highly-refined carbs. No, don't give me that face, yet.
Listen – a diet full of such foods messes up the gut bacteria balance, causing a rise and fall in blood sugar levels. And such negatively affect the health of your skin.
4. May help with cancer treatment
The ketogenic diet has proven effective in treating and preventing certain cancers.
Using the keto diet alongside radiation, chemotherapy, and other forms of cancer treatments are actually safe and effective, according to this study.
The ketogenic diet causes a lot of oxidative stress to cancerous cells, leading to their death.
5. Helps in protecting brain functions
A 2019 study links the ketones in the keto diet to neuroprotective functions. The ketones protect the brain and strengthen it and the nerve cells.
As a result, you'll also be able to manage and prevent such conditions as Alzheimer's disease.
However, we still need lots of research to understand how the ketogenic diet is useful to the brain.
Keto Diet and Diabetes and Pre-Diabetes
High blood sugar levels, messed-up insulin function, and metabolic changes can cause diabetes.
Pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, are closely linked to excess fat. Because the ketogenic diet helps you lose excess fats, you'll prevent or manage these conditions.
This study also shows that the keto diet improved insulin sensitivity to 75%. Impressive, right?
Let's look at it from a different angle – weight. The ketogenic diet also helps you lose weight, which is crucial for type 2 diabetes.
Reducing carb consumption is the best way of lowering insulin and blood sugar levels. Hence, the keto diet can help you treat or even reverse type 2 diabetes.
What to Eat During Keto
The good news about the ketogenic diet is, yes, you guessed right – there are no membership fees. Yaay!
However, depending on your eating habits, you could spend more or less on your food bills.
Here, we go fresh. You'll want to go easy on processed foods, even cut them off completely.
So, what exactly should you eat? Good question.
Include the following foods in your diet;
- Non-starchy/ low-carb veggies – Leafy greens such as cabbage and broccoli make the biggest part of your diet. Onions, pepper, tomatoes, mushroom, and cauliflower are also excellent.
- Meat – Beef, turkey, chicken, sausage, bacon, and pork will serve you well.
- Fish – Fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, mackerel, trout are excellent options here
- Nuts & seeds – Sunflower seeds, walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds
- Unprocessed cheese – Goat, cheddar, mozzarella, blue, cream
- Avocados – whole and fresh avocados are excellent
- Healthy oils – Avocado oil, coconut oil, virgin olive oil
What Not to Eat on Keto Diet
While on Keto, you'll want to avoid the following foods;
- Sugary foods – Here, we go sugarless. No smoothies, fruit juice, soda, ice cream, or candy
- Fruits – Yes, Absolutely no fruits, except berries
- Grains – avoid wheat-based foods such as bread, rice, and pasta
- Alcohol – Lots of alcoholic drinks are high on carbs. You'll want to avoid them
- Unhealthy fats – Processed vegetable oils and such shouldn't be in your diet
- Tubers and root vegetables – Avoid carrots, sweet potatoes, potatoes, etc.
- Non-sugar diet foods – These are mostly processed and high sugar alcohols which can mess the level of ketones
Lazy Keto vs. Strict Keto
The ketogenic diet generally works in two approaches, the strict or 'clean' Keto and the lazy Keto. Depending on individual needs, you can choose which approach to take.
What Is The Strict 'Clean' Keto
As the name suggests, this is a stricter version of Keto. Here, you take a conventional approach to get the body into Ketosis.
With this approach, you strictly count the macronutrients on each meal and strive to go below the recommended amount of carbs daily.
The clean Keto will have your body burn fats, turning it into energy. You also have to completely eliminate some foods from your diet, like we earlier saw.
Generally, sugars, most fruits, starchy vegetables, and grains shouldn't be in your diet. You restrict the number of daily carbs to 30 grams.
Here you'll have to do lots of food management. There's a reason they call it clean/ strict Keto.
What Is the Lazy Keto
No need to give up on Keto, yet. Maybe the lazy Keto will work for you. So, what is it really?
The lazy Keto is the simplified version of Keto.
Make-no-mistake, you still need to watch your carbohydrates intake. Typically, you keep it to around 20 to 50 grams daily.
However, unlike the strict Keto, there are no rules on the amount of fat, proteins, or calories you should take daily.
You should further note that, with the lazy Keto, you might not achieve Ketosis. This is especially if you eat lots of proteins.
Are There Keto-Friendly Snacks?
Can't go a day without snacking? Feeling hungry on your keto diet and your next meal seems like a lifetime away?
Well, I have good news for you. You can snack while on Keto. See, I meant it when I said I’ve got your back.
The following are some of the keto-friendly snacks you can try;
- Hard-boiled eggs. Keep them to a maximum of 2 daily, though
- Full-fat yogurt. Mix it with cocoa powder and nut butter
- Nuts and needs
- Low-carb milkshake. Take it with nut butter, almond milk, and cocoa powder
- Have it with guacamole and salsa
- Dark chocolate
- Strawberries with cream
What Are The Side Effects Of Keto Diets And How To Alleviate Them?
The ketogenic diet is generally safe. However, you may experience a few side effects. What we otherwise call keto flu.
For the first few days, you might experience some weakness in the limbs. Such could make movement difficult.
How do you deal with this? Consider getting into the Keto in the week when you're mostly free. Such will give you enough time to rest. You'll also want to go slow on your workouts in the first few weeks, so your body properly adjusts.
ii) Headaches, Nausea, And Confusion
You've just started Keto. Your body is undergoing sudden drastic changes.
The headaches, nausea, feeling tired and confused are often due to dehydration and deficiency of salt.
To beat this, drink enough water to stay hydrated. You should also consume more fats and salt in the first few days.
Such will replace the water and salt you lost when starting Keto, as this study shows.
Diarrhea and constipation are not uncommon with the keto diet. This is often because you've eliminated most fruits, vegetables, and grains from your diet.
No need to freak out. To ease this, get enough fiber in your diet.
Are There Some Supplements I Can Take To Enhance Keto?
Typically, the keto diet can work on its own without the need for supplements.
However, some people may require supplements to make the diet more effective. The following are the supplements you can try out;
1. Medium-chain triglyceride oil (MCT)
MCT oil occurs naturally in coconut oil. The liver then breaks it down to form energy.
Research also shows that MCT oil can help move your body into Ketosis and maximize weight loss.
MCT oil is common in drinks, including yogurt. Alternatively, you can add it to your smoothie or food.
Magnesium occurs naturally in the human body. It's an electrolyte that helps with metabolism, muscle, and bone health maintenance.
Though the mineral is highly present in a typical ketogenic diet, you can opt for a supplement. In such cases, keep it between 100 and 200 mg per day.
Digestive complications, such as constipation and diarrhea, are common in Keto. As such, you need something to ease the effect.
25 to 30 grams of fiber daily will help keep your digestive system in good shape.
Such keto-friendly foods as leafy greens, avocado, nuts, and seeds have high fiber content. Coupling these foods with supplements and plenty of water keeps your digestive system in good health.
4. Omega-3 fatty acids
Losing weight is one thing, but keeping it off is yet another. Omega-3s will help you prevent weight gain, as this study shows
You can find Omega-3s naturally in eggs and meat of animals that feed on vegetarian feeds.
Alternatively, you can choose to go for the supplements, especially if your ketogenic diet doesn't include seafood and products of grass-fed animals.
Caution: If you're on medications affecting blood clotting such as blood thinners, you should consult your healthcare provider before settling for this supplement.
L-theanine is not common in foods. However, you can find it in black or green tea on different amounts.
Keep it between 100 to 400 mg daily.
Is The Keto Diet For Everyone? Who Should Not Use Keto?
Forget about the myths and controversies surrounding the ketogenic diet. Get this – the keto diet is generally safe. However, the following groups need special attention;
Those on Diabetes Medication
Making dietary changes when on diabetes medication isn't a decision you want to take lightly.
However, switching to Keto should be under the strict guidance of your healthcare provider.
Those On High Blood Pressure Medication
However, be sure to seek the guidance of a medical expert to discuss possible side effects of the diet.
Caution: Like I earlier noted in this post, taking enough water and salt is essential when on Keto. However, you should avoid salt when having high blood pressure. Taking salt can significantly increase your blood pressure.
Breast Feeding Moms
Though lots of research is still needed on this subject, eating extremely low-carb diets while breastfeeding can be harmful.
For instance, doing so could move your body into ketoacidosis – a condition characterized by an increase in nutritional demands for milk production. You can read more about the condition in this research.
Note: You shouldn't consider going for low-carb diets while breastfeeding. In fact, you should increase your daily carbs to at least 50 grams.
What are some of the Best keto diet recipes?
Are you a cooking enthusiast? Then you should try out the keto recipes in this video.
Ready to To Get into Keto Diet?
One of the best ways to maintain a healthy weight and live a quality life is by watching your diet. Eating healthy will not only help you shed extra pounds faster but act as a remedy to some medical conditions.
The keto diet is one of the most effective low-carb diets today. Try it today to enjoy the numerous health benefits that come with it.
Over to you, my friend! What's your secret strategy for healthy weight loss? Are you currently on any diet? I'd love to hear about that in the comments.
Is Keto Safe?
The ketogenic diet is generally safe. However, for the special group of people with diabetes, high blood pressure, and breastfeeding mothers, it could pose some health risks. Be sure to talk to your doctor before trying out the diet.
How do I know I am in Ketosis state?
Decreased appetite accompanied by low energy levels is mostly the initial signs. You'll also likely experience frequent urination, thirst, and dry mouth.
How do I measure Ketosis?
Urine strips is one of the easiest and cheapest ways of measuring Ketosis. You simply dip the strips in your urine for 15 seconds and note the color change. The purple color shows you're on Ketosis. Breath ketone analyzers and blood-ketone meters can also help you measure Ketosis.
What is keto flu, and how can I reduce its impact?
The keto flu is typically the side effects you experience when your body tries to adjust to the dietary changes. Headaches, sore limbs, nausea, digestive discomfort, and sleep problems are common side effects. You can reduce the impact by taking lots of water and salt.
How much weight can I lose on Ketosis?
The results vary from one person to another. Most people shed 2 to 4 pounds in the first week. This is mostly water weight. It's normal to lose a pound in the subsequent week.
How can I track my carbohydrates intake?
You can do that by strictly following the keto recipes and the food guide on this post.
What Can I Drink during Ketosis?
Water is the perfect choice. Coffee and tea are good, too. But, avoid using sweeteners like honey and sugar. A glass of wine once in a while also won't hurt.
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