The ketogenic diet has gained considerable attention in the general public as a potential weight loss strategy. It is more popular among celebrities and patients for particular health concerns as well. But what is this keto diet? And more importantly before understanding keto diet, first let’s take another step back and understand what is ketosis?
What is Ketosis?
Ketosis is a metabolic adaptation which allows humans to survive during starvation. In general, the ketogenic diet is a diet which causes the body to release ketones into the bloodstream. Our body cells use blood sugar which comes from carbohydrate as the main source of energy. Therefore, when the body does not have sufficient carbohydrates to provide energy (that is sugar or glucose) it will break down the fats which produces ketones.
What is the Ketogenic diet?
The ketogenic diet is a diet which is low in carbohydrate and high in proteins and fats. In this diet, 70 to 80% of calories are gained from fats and the remaining calories gained from proteins. The carbohydrate intake in this diet is as low as 20gm/day and as high as 50gm/day. Actually, a ketogenic diet is useful especially for children who are suffering from epilepsy in cases where medication has proven to be ineffective.
And as this diet lacks carbohydrates, and is rich in proteins and fats it is being looked at as a potential weight loss strategy. It generally includes plenty of meat, processed meats, eggs, sausages, fish, cheeses, oils, butter, fibrous vegetables, and seeds.
As any other fad diet, even Ketogenic diet has two sides of the coin. There are some side effects of the ketogenic diet that we should know about it:
- Most of the people who follow this diet tend to eat too much protein and processed food which are usually a poor-quality protein (missing essential amino acids) with very few vegetables and proteins.
- The ketogenic diet is pretty restrictive and therefore quite difficult to follow.
- In the beginning, some people may feel tired and some people may experience some symptoms such as insomnia or sleep problems, nausea, bad breath, constipation, and vomiting.
- Patients with kidney diseases need to be careful about their condition; it can get worse because of the ketogenic diet.
- People generally follow this diet keeping weight loss as their primary objective in mind. In the beginning, people experience faster weight loss as the ketogenic diet is a very low carbohydrate diet compared to other Mediterranean diet and traditional low-fat diets. And they experience short-term weight loss benefits because this difference seems to disappear over time.
- This diet has the potential to enhance blood sugar control within patients of type 2 diabetes. But this benefit is unfortunately also just short term. There is no research which shows the long-term effects
- Possible nutrient deficiencies may occur because ketogenic diet restricts intake of carbohydrates, some fruits, vegetables, and dairy.
Food you can eat on the ketogenic diet
Ketogenic diet mostly focuses on fats in every meal. Fatty meats, plant oil, lard, oily fish and avocados are allowed. Dairy foods such as cheese and butter may be allowed. A moderate protein intake is there. Sometimes free-range poultry and grass-fed beef are recommended but not the grain fed beef. Also, bacon, eggs, pork, certain seeds, nuts and organ meats, tofu are allowed. Fruits which are low in sugar such as berries are allowed in small quantity. Nonstarchy Vegetables such as cauliflower, onions, green leafy, broccoli, summer squashes, zucchini
Food restricted while on ketogenic diet
There are many forms of ketogenic diet but all forms of diet restrict starchy and carbohydrate-rich foods such as cereals, bread, pasta, cookies, legumes and beans, rice. Beverages and foods with natural and added sugars are also restricted. Which includes fruits juices, sugar-sweetened beverages, maple syrup and starchy vegetables such as corn, peas and potatoes. Some types of ketogenic diet avocados intake of beers and
Some people are at times confused wondering what is the best diet for them to lose weight. And researches yet again prove the fact that there no such magic diet that will promote weight loss. The best diet to lose weight is one that easy to follow and sustainable. The diet which is low in carbohydrates and calories will result in weight loss. But for some people cutting carbohydrates is not sustainable and leads to various adverse symptoms such as low mood, hunger, headache, and constipation. Sometimes people ask me that IS KETOGENIC DIET HEALTHY? Well, researches show that this diet minimizes seizures in children which is as effective as medication. Therefore because of these neuroprotective effects of ketogenic diet people raised questions about possible benefits of other brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s, sleep disorder, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, brain cancer, and autism. And the truth is there no researches and studies to support ketosis to treat such conditions.
However, in regards to weight loss, the results are short-term compared to other traditional diets such as the Mediterranean and low-fat diet. Ketogenic diet is a good alternative to treat certain conditions and speed up weight loss. But it is difficult to follow and it can be heavy on fatty, salty, processed foods and red meat which are particularly unhealthy.
Keto diet is also associated with “yo-yo dieting” which usually movie actors follow for getting into a certain shape for small intervals. But keep in mind based on some researches “yo-yo dieting” which leads to speedy weight loss is strongly associated with increased mortality.
Therefore, I believe rather than engaging in different popular fad diet which would last only a few weeks or months, try to make some changes which are sustainable and give long term results. It is really necessary to include a variety of fish, meats, fruits, and vegetables in our daily meal, assure adequate intake of iron, fiber, zinc, vitamin B and magnesium. Talking about vitamin B, its primarily found in whole grains which are generally restricted in ketogenic diet. Therefore, a balanced and unprocessed diet, rich in various colorful vegetables and fruits, fish, lean meats, nuts, whole grains, olive oil, seeds and lots of water is the best evidence for heathier, vibrant and a long healthy life.
“The human body is a miraculous self-healing machine, but those self-repair systems require a nutrient-dense diet.” — Joel Fuhrman
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