You have decided to make a lifestyle change and are now keen to adopt a healthier way of life. You have heard about the ketogenic diet and its many health benefits and are keen to try it. So what is keto and will it help you lose weight? Let’s find out!
What Is Ketogenic Dieting?
Ketogenic dieting (alternatively known as keto dieting or low carb dieting) is a diet that was developed in the 1920s to treat medical conditions. The diet consists of very low levels of carbohydrates and high levels of fats. This results in ketones being formed in the body. Ketones are an alternative source of energy to glucose, which is the usual energy source for the human body. Glucose is usually derived from carbohydrate foods such as fruit, starch, and grain products. When you consume these foods, blood sugar levels rise, meaning your body needs more energy. When this happens, glucagon is secreted by the pancreas, which results in glycogen being stored in the liver as fuel to meet this increased energy demand. This condition is known as “carbohydrate storage syndrome” and can be very dangerous if not treated properly. It is because of this that ketotic diets were initially developed to treat medical conditions. However, it is now being touted as a way of life that can benefit everyone.
The keto diet effectively mimics starvation. When you are in nutritional ketosis, your body does not require as much energy, causing you to lose weight. Thus, the keto diet is effective at helping people with obesity and diabetes to lose weight. Additionally, research has shown that the ketogenic diet can also be useful for children with epilepsy – a condition that affects more than 50 million people worldwide and is notoriously difficult to treat with medications. Further research is needed to determine if the keto diet can be a viable treatment option for this condition, but for now it is definitely worth a try.
Why Do You Need To Know The Difference Between Fat And Carbs?
You have undoubtedly heard of the fat/carb myth, but you might not be aware of how much damage this belief can do. Let’s examine the harm that the “fat = bad” mentality can cause:
- People avoid eating carbs because they think that they are bad for them. However, this is far from true. The main problem is that when you eat carbs, they are turned into sugar, which can eventually lead to obesity. Thus, people on a keto diet, which is largely carbohydrate-free, are less likely to gain weight as a result of consuming these foods.
- People with type 2 diabetes avoid eating carbs because they think that these foods will cause their blood sugar to rise. However, this is also incorrect. Many carbohydrates are digested in a relatively harmless way and eventually result in glucose being formed. However, there are some carbohydrates that are poorly digested and can stimulate insulin secretion directly. This can lead to type 2 diabetes.
- One of the main reasons that people avoid carbs is because they think that they are bad for their health. However, this is also incorrect. Many foods contain complex carbohydrates, which provide our bodies with energy. Many people with diabetes, obesity, and heart disease have found that they are able to considerably reduce their risk of developing these diseases by adopting a lifestyle that is low in carbohydrates.
- The truth is that you do not need to fear carbs. They are not all bad. Rather, it is a matter of making the right choices about what you eat and how you eat it. You should not be afraid of consuming carbohydrates directly, but rather try and limit your daily carb intake.
Keto Vs. Conventional Dieting
Now that you know what is ketogenic dieting and how it works, you might be wondering about its advantages and disadvantages compared to other types of diets. Here are the main points:
- It is very low in carbohydrates – typically less than 20g of carbohydrates per day.
- It is very high in fats – typically between 60% and 80% of your daily energy intake.
- It produces ketones as a byproduct – these are a more potent source of energy than glucose.
- It can be very effective for people with obesity and diabetes – two conditions that affect more than 600 million people worldwide. It has also been shown to be useful in treating children with epilepsy.
- The ketogenic diet can reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some forms of cancer.
- It takes some time to get used to – especially for those who have been accustomed to eating a certain way their entire lives. Changing your eating habits is never easy, but it is worth it in the end.
- It is very low in nutrients – most notably, vitamins and minerals. You need to make sure that you are getting adequate nutrition in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This includes eating the right food and taking your supplements.
- It is very restrictive – meaning that you have to be extremely mindful about what you eat. This can make it difficult to follow for those who are not used to such restriction.
- It is very high in calories – typically around 70% more than what you would need to maintain your current weight. You have to make sure that you are consuming enough calories each day to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Remember, too, that the ketogenic diet tends to be high in fats, so it is important that you are eating plenty of food sources of vitamins and minerals.
When Should You Adopt The Keto Diet?
You might be wondering when it is the best time to adopt the keto diet. After all, it is not a diet that can be easily implemented overnight. Changes in lifestyle and food availability have to be considered before you can successfully begin a ketogenic diet. Here are some tips on when to start:
- If you are looking to adopt a diet that can help you lose weight then the keto diet is definitely one of the best options available. It allows you to tap into sources of energy that are highly beneficial to your body. The low levels of carbohydrate intake can also enhance mental focus and clarity, as well as improve athletic performance.
- On the other hand, if you are looking to improve your health and reduce the risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, and some forms of cancer, then you should seriously consider the keto diet.
- The ketogenic diet is not recommended for women who are or will become pregnant. Additionally, the diet should not be used if you have a history of epilepsy or are taking anticonvulsant medication. The risks of not adhering to the diet may result in worsening of your condition or development of another disease.
How Do You Adopt The Keto Diet?
So you have decided to try the keto diet and now you are wondering how to make the change. The first thing to do is to assess your current lifestyle. Are you already active? Do you eat a healthy diet already? What types of food do you enjoy and what kinds of food do you dislike? Now is the best time to take a good look at how you eat and how you live. The next step is to make a list of all the foods that you love and all the foods that you dislike. This is important because the keto diet does not allow for a lot of variety. You can have foods that are high in fat and low in carbohydrates, but you will still have to stay away from certain other foods, such as desserts and starchy vegetables, for example.
Once you have made the list, it is time to tackle your diet. You should start small and monitor how you feel before adding more food sources. You should only add one new food group to your diet at a time. Begin with carbohydrates and eventually, you can add fats and proteins, but it would be best to do so one at a time, so that your body does not become reliant on any one source of nutrition.
You should try to form a habit of eating healthy foods and avoid foods with lots of added sugar and carbs. The latter are easier to avoid, as most packaged foods contain high amounts of carbohydrates. You will soon form new habits and ways of eating that are more suitable for your body’s nutritional needs. Make sure to eat lots of fiber-rich fruits and vegetables to help move things along efficiently. This way, you will not experience constipation as frequently, as it often is the case when people try to lose weight too quickly.