The ketogenic diet is a very low-carb, high-fat diet that shares many similarities with the Atkins and low-carb diets.
It involves drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat. This reduction in carbs puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis.
When this happens, your body becomes incredibly efficient at burning fat for energy. It also turns fat into ketones in the liver, which can supply energy for the brain.
Ketogenic diets can cause massive reductions in blood sugar and insulin levels. This, along with the increased ketones, has numerous health benefits.
WHAT IS KETOSIS?
The “keto” in a ketogenic diet comes from the fact that it allows the body to produce small fuel molecules called “ketones.”
This is an alternative fuel source for the body, used when blood sugar (glucose) is in short supply.
When you eat very few carbs or very few calories, the liver produces ketones from fat. These ketones then serve as a fuel source throughout the body, especially for the brain.
The brain is a hungry organ that consumes lots of energy every day, and it can’t run on fat directly. It can only run on glucose – or ketones!
On a ketogenic diet, your entire body switches its fuel supply to run mostly on fat, burning fat 24-7. When insulin levels become very low, fat burning can increase dramatically. It becomes easier to access your fat stores to burn them off.
This is great if you’re trying to lose weight, but there can also be other, less obvious benefits, such as less hunger and a steady supply of energy (without the sugar peaks and valleys we can get from high carb meals). This may help keep you alert and focused
EATING HABITS ON KETO
Want to know if there are keto friendly drinks? Is it possible to drink alcohol? Read to know more!
Health Effects Of Keto
Other than weight loss there is very many positive health effects for Keto diet and some are:
Type 2 Diabetes Research published in September 2016 in the Journal of Obesity & Eating Disorders suggested the diet could help people with type 2 diabetes and can lead to improvements in HbA1c levels (though be warned, it can also lead to hypoglycaemia — that’s low blood sugar levels — if you take medication to lower your blood sugar).
Obesity Compared with those on a typical low-calorie diet, obese individuals on a very-low-calorie ketogenic diet lost more weight and inflammatory visceral (belly) fat in one study, published in December 2016 in the journal Endocrine. It may also help preserve lean body mass during weight loss, according to an article published in February 2018 in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease A small study published in February 2013 in the journal Neurobiology of Aging found that older higher-risk adults on a keto diet experienced better memory functioning after just six weeks.
Parkinson’s Disease Because these patients are at a higher risk for dementia, researchers are studying how inducing nutritional ketosis may be used to preserve cognitive functioning.
Certain Cancers Keto may be used in combination with chemotherapy and radiation, some studies have suggested. But ultimately more studies are needed to determine if keto can play a role in cancer therapy, and patients should not use it as a stand-alone treatment or without a doctor’s consent.
Acne: Lower insulin levels and eating less sugar or processed foods may help improve acne
Health Risks Of Keto
Most people who start a ketogenic diet will experience some symptoms of the “keto flu.” This is what you may feel, more or less, a few days after you’ve started a keto diet:
Lack of motivation
These initial symptoms often disappear within a week or two, as your body adapts to increased fat burning.
The main cause of the keto flu is that carb-rich foods can result in water retention in the body. When you start a low-carb diet much of this excess fluid is lost. You may notice increased urination, and with that some extra salt is lost too.
Before your body adapts, this can result in dehydration and a lack of salt. These appear to be behind most of the symptoms of the keto flu.You can reduce or even eliminate these symptoms by making sure you get enough water and salt.
If you're not eating a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, and grains, you may be at risk for deficiencies in micronutrients, including selenium, magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamins B and C. So keep a healthy diet and consume a nutritional meal and you can avoid this.
With so much fat to metabolize, the diet could make any existing liver conditions worse. So if you have a pre existing liver condition ask your doctor or a dietitian for advice.
The kidneys help metabolize protein, and the keto diet may overload them. (The current recommended intake for protein averages 46 grams per day for women, and 56 grams for men). So make sure not to consume higher amounts of proteins than required.
The keto diet is low in fibrous foods like grains and legumes. To overcome this eat green leafy vegetables.
Fuzzy thinking and mood swings:
The brain needs sugar from healthy carbohydrates to function. Low-carb diets may cause confusion and irritability. So instead of starving keep eating several meals in smaller quantities but avoid snacking!
How To Know If You Reached Ketosis
Dry mouth and increased thirst:
Unless you drink enough water and get enough electrolytes like salt, you may feel a dry mouth. Try a cup of bouillon or two daily, plus as much water as you need.
A ketone body, acetoacetate, may end up in the urine. This makes it possible to test for ketosis using urine strips. It also – at least when starting out – can result in having to go to the bathroom more often. This may be the main cause of the increased thirst.
1. Urine stripsketostix:
Urine strips are the simplest and cheapest way to measure ketosis. It is the first option for most beginners on a keto diet.
Dip the strip in your urine, and 15 seconds later the coloUr change will show you the presence of ketones.38 If you get a high reading (a dark purple coloUr), you’ll know that you’re in ketosis.
2. Breath-ketone analyzers:
KetonixBreath-ketone analyzers are a simple way to measure ketones. They are more expensive than urine strips. But they are cheaper than blood-ketone meters in the long run, as they are reusable any number of times.
3. Blood ketone meters:
Blood-ketone meters show an exact and current level of ketones in your blood. They are the gold standard and the most exact way to measure your ketosis level on a ketogenic diet. They used to be quite expensive, but now it’s possible to get cheaper test strips.
This is due to a ketone body called acetone escaping via our breath. It can make a person’s breath smell “fruity,” or similar to nail polish remover. This smell can sometimes also come from sweat, when working out. It’s often temporary.
F A Qs
Here are answers to some of the most common questions about the ketogenic diet.
1. Can I ever eat carbs again?
Yes. However, it is important to significantly reduce your carb intake initially. After the first 2–3 months, you can eat carbs on special occasions — just return to the diet immediately after.
2. Will I lose muscle?
There is a risk of losing some muscle on any diet. However, the high protein intake and high ketone levels may help minimize muscle loss, especially if you lift weights.
3. Can I build muscle on a ketogenic diet?
Yes, but it may not work as well as on a moderate-carb diet.
4. Do I need to refeed or carb load?
No. However, a few higher-calorie days may be beneficial every now and then.
5. How much protein can I eat?
Protein should be moderate, as a very high intake can spike insulin levels and lower ketones. Around 35% of total calorie intake is probably the upper limit.
6. What if I am constantly tired, weak or fatigued?
You may not be in full ketosis or be utilizing fats and ketones efficiently. To counter this, lower your carb intake and re-visit the points above. A supplement like MCT oil or ketones may also help.
7. My urine smells fruity. Why is this?
Don't be alarmed. This is simply due to the excretion of by-products created during ketosis.
8. My breath smells. What can I do?
This is a common side effect. Try drinking naturally flavored water or chewing sugar-free gum.
9. I heard ketosis was extremely dangerous. Is this true?
People often confuse ketosis with ketoacidosis. The former is natural, while the latter only occurs in uncontrolled diabetes.
Ketoacidosis is dangerous, but the ketosis on a ketogenic diet is perfectly normal and healthy.
10. I have digestion issues and diarrhea. What can I do?
This common side effect usually passes after 3–4 weeks. If it persists, try eating more high-fiber veggies. Magnesium supplements can also help with constipation.