To start with, the word “Keto” stands for ketogenic which allows for the production of molecules called “ketones” which fuel the body. It is used when glucose is in short supply in the body.
The ketogenic diet is a high-fat but low-carb diet that has striking features with the Atkins and low-carb diets. People often confuse the ketogenic diet with these two diets, and trust me; they are not the same.
The whole concept behind the ketogenic diet is reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fats. This reduction of carbs conditions the body into a metabolic state called “ketosis”.
In short, the ketogenic diet is a low-carb but high-fat diet. It drastically reduces blood sugar levels and shifts the body’s metabolism towards fat and ketones, which helps in weight loss.
KETO DIET & WEIGHT LOSS
In the 21st century, attaining a perfect figure has become a major goal. Check most people’s New Year’s resolution; it’s most likely going to have “losing weight” on it; this is a sheer necessity. After all, the obesity epidemic has infected the United States. More than 2 in 3 adults are considered obese. Hence, burning calories has become the official anthem on the streets.
However, weight loss is not something that comes easily. One of the reasons for this is that there is no “perfect plan for weight loss”. Thus, despite the workout plans, pieces of advice, or diets suggested by most health experts or gym instructors. There is no best way of losing weight; this is because everyone requires his/her peculiar dietary needs. What works for Mr. A may not work for Mr. C.
In recent times, there has been a debate on determining which diet plan is the best for losing weight. Often, the Keto diet is regarded as the perfect plan for weight loss. However, this standpoint has been questioned due to the school of thought that supports low-fat food as the ideal weight loss diet.
This ongoing debate compelled a group of Brazilian scientists to assess the current data on the efficacy of low-carb diets in a meta-analysis in 2014. Following the research of 13 studies on 1577 subjects lasting 12 months, the researchers discovered that the groups which had taken a low-carb diet lost an average of 2 pounds compared to the other group (who were on a low-fat diet).
Following the results of this study, it was rightfully concluded that a ketogenic diet might be a useful tool against obesity. You may not have to hit the gym to shed that unhealthy weight of yours; you could try out the ketogenic diet for yourself.
The ketogenic diet is effective in weight loss because it can “hack” our brains into making us eat fewer calories and burn fat in the process. By following a ketogenic diet, the weight loss benefits of “ketones” would be achieved.
Ketones are the alternative fuel source in the body which promote weight loss. When the body produces ketones during ketosis, the ketogenic dieter experiences an increased energy level and decreased appetite; this results in fewer calories consumed and eventually leads to weight loss.
TYPES OF KETO DIETS
The ketogenic diet is only one of various types. There are four types of ketogenic diets, namely:
- High-protein ketogenic diet. This is the type of Keto diet that includes more levels of protein. It shares some level of similarity with the Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD). Typically, the ratio of this diet is: fats- 60%, protein- 35%, and carbs- 5%.
- Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD). This ketogenic diet involves following the standard ketogenic diet for 5-6 days, followed by 1-2 days of high carb consumption. Higher carb days are mainly intended for replenishing the body’s lost glucose levels. It is useful for those seeking muscle growth.
- Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD). This is the type that comprises low carbohydrate, moderate-protein and a high-fat diet. Typically, the ratio includes: fats- 75%, protein- 20%, carbs- 5%.
- Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD). This is a regular Keto diet that involves eating carbs around workout times. It is a combination of the standard and the cyclical ketogenic diet. Typically, it’s meant for people who exercise with intensity for extended time frames.
Of these various types of Ketogenic Diet, the Standard type (SKD) is the most recommended version.
7 BENEFITS OF THE KETOGENIC DIET (OTHER THAN WEIGHT LOSS)
The Ketogenic diet is a good meal plan for anyone who wants to shed excess weight. It is a perfect strategy for people who want to burn calories in a healthy manner. The Keto diet sure has lots of benefits in terms of weight loss. However, do not limit yourself to thinking that the ketogenic diet is only beneficial for weight loss. Other benefits come with following a ketogenic diet, some of which are highlighted below:
- Treatment of diabetes: the ketogenic diet is useful in the treatment of diabetes, particularly type two diabetes. The Ketogenic diet helps sufferers with type 2 diabetes by allowing the body to maintain a healthy low glucose level. The reduced carbs in a Keto diet helps in lowering blood sugar levels.
- Treatment of bipolar disorder. People who have bipolar disorder have abnormal levels of sodium in their cells. Adopting a ketogenic diet helps to lower sodium levels. Thus, it is used to cure bipolar patients. N.B. these benefits are mainly hypothesized as there is no clear and established proof that the Keto diet is capable of treating bipolar disorder.
- Reduction of epileptic seizures. The Ketogenic diet can assist in reducing the frequency of epileptic seizures. Following clinical trials of people with treatment-resistant epilepsy, it was discovered that the ketogenic diet reduced 50% of seizures in patients. The Keto diet helps in reducing seizures by reducing the amount of glutamate in the brain and enhancing neurotransmitters such as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).
- Mental clarity and sharpness. The Ketogenic diet has been proven to give a mental edge by providing mental clarity and sharpness. It is a performance-boosting intake for aspiring and productive people. One of the facts backing up this advantage is that the ketones produced as a result of a Keto diet are neuroprotective antioxidants. These neuroprotective antioxidants protect the brain from damaging reactive oxygen matter. The increase of GABA caused by ketones also helps to improve brain function.
- Clearer skin. The Keto diet helps to provide flawless skin by lowering insulin levels.
- Reduced risk of chronic diseases. The Ketogenic diet is not only good for weight loss; it also reduces the chances of being afflicted by chronic diseases. The Keto diet creates ketosis in the body, and this leads to an improvement in glucose levels, reduction of blood pressure, and decreased appetite, all of which minimize the possibility of chronic diseases.
- Anti-aging. Through the stimulation of ketosis, the Keto diet slows down the aging process by nourishing the mitochondria, restricting unhealthy calories, and producing β-hydroxybutyrate (βOHB).
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A LOW CARB MEAL AND A KETOGENIC DIET
Differentiating between a low-carb and a Keto diet has become quite confusing for a lot of people. I don’t blame them. The reason for this confusion is not far-fetched. A ketogenic diet is a low-carb meal, but low-carb is not always a Keto diet. Understand the confusion now?
This confusion is the reason for the misconception many people believe they are on a ketogenic diet just because they are low-carb. This false assumption should be stopped in its tracks…
Yes, a Keto diet is low-carb; it is the ultimate form of low-carb diets. However, you can be on a low-carb meal without being ketogenic; this is why low-carb is not always ketogenic. Shocking, right?
The significant distinction between low carbs and a ketogenic diet is that the latter induces a metabolic state called ketosis. Low carbs involve removing carbohydrate consumption, but, lowering carb intake may not induce everyone into ketosis. Only a ketogenic diet is capable of creating ketosis.
Another difference between the Keto diet and other low carb diets is that the Keto diet drastically reduces carbs to no more than 20-35 grams per day. On the other hand, different low carb diets can include as much as 70 grams per day. Also, the ketogenic diet focuses on high fats (requiring a minimum of 60-75% fats) whereas low carb diets do not place a priority on consuming high amounts of fat.
THE THREE BIGGEST MISTAKES TO AVOID WHEN TRYING A KETOGENIC DIET
A ketogenic diet is a great diet to try out. It would be an understatement to affirm that this low carb diet has changed the lives of many people. Primarily, the main aim of being on a Keto diet is to lose weight whilst remaining healthy. This diet has proven that it is merely a perfect weight loss diet for several people. However, sometimes, being on a Keto diet does not work for everyone.
The ultimate aim of being on a ketogenic diet is to enter the metabolic state- ketosis. However, some people have trouble entering this phase; this is quite problematic as the whole purpose of being on a ketogenic diet is prevented once ketosis is unachievable.
Though different factors may influence the inability to experience ketosis; it is often certain mistakes that hinder ketosis. In this chapter, I’m going to be addressing three significant mistakes that people make when on the ketogenic diet.
NOT DRINKING ENOUGH WATER:
This is one big mistake a lot of people trying out a Keto diet make. Generally speaking, it is advised by medical experts to drink at least a gallon of water per day. This is to assist the proper function of body organs. That’s already one pretty hard thing to do. You’re always busy with your work, life and family. However, this should not affect your water intake.
Being on a ketogenic diet can make you quite dehydrated because of your low carb consumption. Thus, taking a lot of water can make you compensate for the missing reserves. Also, taking plenty of water on a Keto diet helps to prevent bad breath. Being on a ketogenic diet is likely to cause bad breath and drinking plenty of water could keep your breath minty fresh. Drinking a lot of water also helps to speed up metabolism.
THINKING KETO ULTIMATELY GUARANTEES WEIGHT LOSS:
Another mistake people tend to make while on a ketogenic diet is believing that a Keto diet is an automatic weight loss diet. This misconception is caused by the myth spread by the media and society.
While I advocate the efficacy of the ketogenic diet in helping weight loss, it is not the best way to lose weight. This is one myth I need to debunk. Just because a friend of yours lost several pounds successfully by following a ketogenic diet it does not mean it will work for you. That’s something you need to understand. We all have different blood sugar reactions to food; thus, no one diet ultimately guarantees weight loss. Weight loss is not the entire goal of a keto diet.
Now, I’m not discouraging the use of the Keto diet (I’ll be shooting myself in the foot if I do that!). My point is that you should not obsess over the ketogenic diet as being the only diet that can guarantee weight loss. Your body might just not react very well after all. Thus, if you find out that Keto doesn’t work for you after several attempts, forget about it and find the diet that makes you feel good about yourself and works fine.
AVOIDING FRUIT AND VEG:
Often, there is an erroneous belief in a lot of people’s minds that fruit and vegetables should not be taken while on a Keto diet. This mistake is supported by the fact that most fruit and veg are high in carbs.
Yes, fruit and veg have a high proportion of carbs; but this does not mean that you should completely avoid them. The truth is that fruit and vegetables are key sources of vitamins, antioxidants, and fibers that help prevent constipation. Constipation is one of the side effects of being on a ketogenic diet and eating enough fruit and veg can help to avoid it. Non-starchy veg and lower-carb fruit should be on your diet plan when trying out Keto.
Despite the adverse effects of these misconceptions, they are avoidable when you are conscious of them. I believe this chapter has made you understand the mistakes that can hinder the effectiveness of a ketogenic diet.
Leaving a state of ketosis is quite easy and staying in it is not a simple task. Either way, you can do it!
WHAT ABOUT THE SIDE EFFECTS?
In recent times, the ketogenic diet has become extremely popular. It has been established as the perfect tool for losing weight healthily. Everybody wants to try out the ketogenic diet. From movies to blog posts and even this eBook that you are reading, the efficacy of a keto diet is often discussed. However, there is an aspect of the keto diet which has not been explored by many health experts and writers. This aspect is basically about the side effects of the keto diet and how to avoid them. Briefly, I’m going to talk about the side effects of the ketogenic diet and how to go about them in this chapter.
Three factors, namely, cause side effects of a keto diet:
- Hypoglycemia: This is the first phase that triggers side effects in a keto diet. It occurs when the body is adapting to a keto diet. This is because the body is adapting to burn body fat for energy. It is entirely normal at the beginning.
- HPA Axis dysfunction: The HPA axis comprises the Hypothalamus, Pituitary, and Adrenals glands. Its dysfunction is caused when the body experiences hypoglycemia, and it produces a series of side effects.
- Mineral deficiency. Electrolytes help to regulate hydration. However, during keto-adaptation, an excess of electrolytes is excreted through the urine due to HPA axis dysregulation. There are several side effects that manifest due to this deficiency.
Some of the side effects of a ketogenic diet include:
- Sleep issues: one of the side effects of the ketogenic diet is temporary insomnia. Due to keto-adaptation, it can last for about 3-4 weeks. However, it normalizes with time once the body adapts to burning fat. People tend to lose sleep during ketosis. However, this can be minimised by taking magnesium before going to bed and limiting stress during the evening.
- Irregular menstrual cycle. For women, being on a ketogenic diet can upset your menstrual cycle. Some women who tried a keto diet in the past have reported instances of having regular periods. Others recount cases of no menstrual cycle at all. The reason for this is not far-fetched. According to Kristen Kizer, RD of Houston Methodist Hospital in Texas; “if someone is reducing too many calories, cycle irregularities can develop”. The changes in menstrual cycles are mostly due to the weight loss caused by being on a keto diet. However, it’s normal that your diet might be responsible for your irregular menstrual cycle. Sometimes, it might be a more significant health issue.
- Bad breath. The ketogenic diet is known to cause bad breath. This breath is known as keto breath. Not everyone on a keto diet experiences bad breath. During your first weeks of being on a keto diet, you may notice a change in your breath. However, your body will adjust to the lower carb intake as time passes. During the keto-adaptation period, you can avoid bad breath by taking the following steps:
- Increase your water intake
- Take a lot of mints and gums
- Consume less protein
- Slightly increase carb intake
- Be patient
d). Constipation. Being on a ketogenic diet can cause constipation. The truth is that any food can cause constipation, especially if it is nutritionally imbalanced. If your keto diet is well-planned, you’re less likely to experience constipation. Another major cause of constipation whilst on a keto diet is keto flu. To know the real cause of your constipation; however, you might need to visit the doctor for a diagnosis. Avoiding constipation during a ketogenic diet can be achieved through the following steps:
- Combining fermented food with fiber-rich sources
- Staying more hydrated
- Eliminating allergens
- Treating keto flu
THE KETOGENIC DIET MEAL PLAN
“What should I eat while trying out keto?”
This is a question that boggles in the minds of many beginners who are just starting the ketogenic diet. In this chapter, I will be providing tips for food and drinks to include during a ketogenic diet and also things to avoid.
What to Eat During a Keto Diet?
A ketogenic diet is based on a low-carb meal which limits carb intake to 20-50 grams per day; this makes it seem challenging as there are not many foods that may fit this culinary pattern. However, below is the compiled list of nutritious food that you can eat during a ketogenic diet:
- Seafood. Seafood such as fish and shellfish are keto-friendly. Other seafood types are rich in vitamin B, potassium, and selenium.
- Pastured or omega-3 eggs are ideal to include in your keto diet.
- Unprocessed cheese from goats, cheddar, etc.
- Healthy oils such as coconut oil, avocado oil, and olive oil
- Low-carb veg such as green vegetables, tomatoes, onions, etc.
- Meat such as chicken, beef, steak, ham, turkey, etc.
- Nuts and seeds. They are high in fibers and may lead to slower aging.
- Berries. They are rich in nutrients that reduce the chances of heart diseases
- Unsweetened coffee or tea.
Combining all these foods in a ketogenic diet will allow you to maintain the required carb range and enjoy the health benefits.
Drinks to include during a ketogenic diet?
During a ketogenic diet, the beverages should be zero-calorie. Some of these keto-diet drinks include:
- Water. This is perhaps, the most keto-friendly beverage you will ever find. If you don’t like drinking water, try water enhancers or adding lemon juice.
- Unsweetened coffee and tea
- Unsweetened diet soda
- Sparkling water
- Low-carb dairy products such as Almond milk, Cashew milk, Hemp milk, Soy milk, Coconut milk, Flax milk.
- Keto smoothies such as Coconut yogurt, egg white protein, Vanilla extract
- Keto-friendly alcohol
- Keto-friendly Energy Drinks such as Monster Energy Zero Ultra, Rockstar Zero Crab, Rockstar Pure Zero
Things to Avoid during a Ketogenic Diet:
Any food that is high in carbs should be limited or completely avoided whilst on a ketogenic diet. Below is the list of food that needs to be avoided during a ketogenic diet:
- ALCOHOL: Alcohol beverages are known to have high carb content which can remove you from a state of ketosis. Avoid them!!
- UNHEALTHY FATS: Unhealthy fats such as processed vegetable oils, mayonnaise should be reduced whilst on the ketogenic diet.
- FRUIT. All fruit excluding berries; should be eliminated on a ketogenic diet.
- SUGARY FOODS. Reduce the intake of soda, smoothies, ice cream, candy, chocolates.
- GRAINS/STARCHES. Eliminate starches such as wheat-based products, rice, pasta, and cereal, in your keto diet.
- CONDIMENTS AND SAUCES CONTAINING SUGAR AND UNHEALTHY FATS
- SUGAR-FREE DIET FOODS. These foods are often highly processed, and it can affect ketone levels adversely. Eliminate them!!
- PROCESSED FOOD. Avoid processed food that contains carrageenan, MSG, sulfites, and even BPAs.
- “LOW FATS”, “LOW CARB” AND ZERO CARB PRODUCTS. These products such as diet soda, mints, may be high in carbs. Avoid them.
By now, you’re aware of what a keto diet is, its side effects, mistakes to avoid, and meal plan. Not only that, but you will also benefit from the many advantages of a ketogenic diet.
Once you achieve your goals of being on a ketogenic diet, it is advisable that you maintain the diet and add a little more carbs.
Do not try to revert to your old habits! If you do so, you will slowly fall back to the weight and health conditions which you suffered before.
A ketogenic diet only works when you do it!
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