The ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet with a bunch of health benefits. The short form of ketogenic diet is the keto diet.
A number of studies have shown that a keto diet can help you lose weight and also improve your health tremendously. Moreso, this diet is likely to help you against epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and cancer.
Here is everything you need to know about the keto diet.
What is a Ketogenic Diet?
The Ketogenic Diet is significantly low-carb, high-fat diet. It is similar to low-carb diets and Atkins in many ways. It drastically reduces the rate of carbohydrate intake and replaces it with fat. Reduction in the number of carbs consumed sets your body into a state of metabolism known as ketosis.
This offers your body the efficiency to burn fat for energy. Furthermore, it transforms fat into ketones in the liver which supplies energy for the brain.
The ketogenic diet can result in massive reductions in insulin levels and blood sugar. Together with the increased ketones, you will have many health benefits.
Different Types of Ketogenic Diet
• Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD): This is a diet that is low in carb, moderate in protein and high in fat. Typically, it contains only 5% carbs, 20% protein, and 75% fat.
• Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD): A diet that involves a period of higher-carb refeeds which can be five ketogenic days followed by two high-carb days.
• Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD): A diets that allow you to include carbs around workouts.
• High-protein Ketogenic Diet: This is the same as standard keto diet but has a higher percentage of protein. Most of the time, the ratio appear as 5% carbs, 35% protein, and 60% fat.
However, an extensive study was only done on the standard and high-protein ketogenic diets. The cyclical and targeted keto diets are advanced methods and are primarily used by athletes or bodybuilders.
The information in this article centers on the standard ketogenic diet (SKD), though most of the SKD principles apply to other keto versions.
Losing Weight with Ketogenic Diets
Keto diet can help you lose weight and reduce risk factors for disease. According to research, ketogenic diets are superior to the most-recommended low-fat diets.
The diet fills you to an extent that you begin to lose weight countless of calories or without tracking your food intake.
A study shows that you can lose 2.2 times more weight when on the ketogenic diet compared to when you’re on a calorie-restricted low-fat diet. There’s also an improvement in the cholesterol levels of triglyceride and HDL.
Another study shows that people on the keto diet lost weight 3 more times than people on the diet prescribed by the Diabetes UK.
The increased protein intake is one of the many reasons why ketogenic diets are far better than low-fat diets because it provides numerous benefits. The lowered blood sugar levels, improved insulin sensitivity, and increased ketones may play a major role too.
Ketogenic Diets for Diabetes & Prediabetes
Characteristics of diabetes include changes in metabolism, impaired insulin function, and high blood sugar.
You can lose excess fat with the ketogenic diet. Excess fat is closely linked to type II diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and prediabetes.
According to one study, a ketogenic diet can improve insulin sensitivity by a whopping 75%. Another study carried out on people with type II diabetes shows that seven of the twenty-one people were able to stop using diabetes medications completely.
Also, another study reports that a group of people on the ketogenic diet lost 11.1kg (24.4 pounds) compared to another group of higher-carb that lost 6.9kg (15.2 pounds) – a great benefit when you consider the link between type II diabetes and weight.
In addition, about 95% of the ketogenic group were able to reduce/stop diabetes medication compared to 62% in the higher-carb group.
Other Health Benefits of Ketogenic Diets
The ketogenic diet begins as a tool for the treatment of neurological diseases which include epilepsy. Different studies have shown that the keto diet have many benefits for diverse health conditions. These include:
• Cancer: Presently, the keto diet can treat different types of cancer and slow down tumor growth.
• Alzheimer’s disease: The symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease can be reduced by the diet, it also slow tumor growth.
• Heart disease: Risk factors like HDL cholesterol levels, body fat, blood sugar, and blood pressure can also be improved.
• Epilepsy: According to research, the keto diet can cause massive reductions in seizures in epileptic children.
• Parkinson’s disease: A study shows that the ketogenic diet can help improve symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
• Polycystic ovary syndrome: The diet can reduce insulin levels which can play a vital role in polycystic ovary syndrome.
• Acne: Eating processed foods or less sugar and lower insulin levels can help improve acne.
• Brain injuries: A particular study on animal shows that the diet can help reduce concussions and recovery after brain injury.
Foods to Avoid
You should limit any food high in carbs. Below is a list of foods that you should reduce or eliminate on a keto diet:
• Fruit: All types of fruit except a small number of berries (e.g. strawberries).
• Sugary foods: Smoothies, fruit juice, candy, ice cream, cake, soda, etc.
• Beans or legumes: Kidney beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils, etc.
• Starches (or grains): Rice, pasta, wheat-based products, cereal, etc.
• Root vegetables & tubers: Carrots, sweet potatoes, parsnips, potatoes, etc.
• Sugar-free diet foods: These are sometimes high in polyhydric alcohols (also called sugar alcohols) which can affect the levels of ketone in some cases. Also, these foods tend to be highly processed.
• Unhealthy fats: Reduce your intake of mayonnaise, processed vegetable oils, etc.
• Low-fat (or diet) products: These products are extremely processed and most times high in carbs.
• Alcohol: Most alcoholic beverages can throw you out of ketosis due to their carb content.
• Some condiments or sauces: In most cases, these condiments or sauces contain sugar and unhealthy fat.
Foods to Eat
Majority of your meals should base around these foods:
• Eggs: Consume pastured or omega-3 whole eggs.
• Cheese: Look for unprocessed cheese like cream, goat, cheddar, mozzarella or blue.
• Meat: Turkey, chicken, steak, red meat, bacon, sausage, and ham.
• Butter and cream: Stay on grass-fed when possible.
• Fatty fish: Like trout, salmon, mackerel, and tuna.
• Healthy oils: Coconut oil, avocado oil, and extra virgin olive oil.
• Condiments: Good to use pepper, salt and other forms of spices and healthy herbs.
• Seeds and nuts: Walnuts, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, almonds, chia seeds, etc.
• Avocados: Whole avocados (or freshly made guacamole).
• Low-carb veggies: Green veggies, onions, tomatoes, peppers, etc.
Healthy Ketogenic Snacks
Here is a list of healthy, keto-approved snacks that you can take in case you are hungry between meals:
• 90% dark chocolate
• Fatty meat or fish
• A handful of nuts or seeds
• 1-2 hard-boiled eggs
• Cheese with olives
• Milkshake low in carb with nut butter, cocoa powder, and almond milk.
• Celery with guacamole and salsa
• Cream and strawberries
• Smaller portions of leftover meals
• Full-fat yogurt mixed with cocoa powder and nut butter
Tips to Eat Out on a Keto Diet
You can conveniently make most restaurant meals keto-friendly when eating out. At restaurants, order meat or fish-based dish and replace high-carb foods with extra vegetables.
Egg-based meals (such as eggs or omelet and bacon) are also a great option. Burn-less burgers is another favorite. You can as well swap the fries for vegetables, add extra avocado, bacon, eggs, or cheese.
You can visit a Mexican restaurant to enjoy any type of meat with extra sour cream, cheese, salsa, and guacamole. For dessert, request berries with cream or a mixed cheese board.
Side Effects and How to Minimize Them
Normally, the keto diet is safe to use for people who are healthy but side effects may come up as your body adapts. This is called the keto flu and is usually over in a few days.
[Also read: The Side Effects of Ketogenic Diet]
Keto flu includes increased hunger, decreased exercise performance, poor energy and mental function, nausea, sleep issues, and digestive discomfort.
To reduce this, consider trying a regular low-carb diet in the first few weeks. This may help your body burn additionally fat before you finally eliminate carbs.
Also, the keto diet may also change the mineral and water balance of your body. So, consider taking mineral supplements or try to add more salt to your meal to help.
For minerals, try to take 1,000mg of potassium. 300mg of magnesium and 3,000-4,000mg of sodium per day to reduce side effects.
Initially, it’s important to eat until you are full while you avoid restricting calories too much. Normally, keto diet aid weight loss without intentional calorie restriction.
Ketogenic Diet Supplements
While there are no required supplements, some can be useful though.
• Minerals: Because of shifts in water and mineral balance, added salt and other minerals may be essential when starting out.
• Creatine: Has a bunch of health and fitness benefits. It can be helpful when combining keto with exercise.
• MCT oil: When added to yogurt or other drinks, provides energy and increases ketone levels.
• Exogenous ketones: A supplement that can increase the ketone levels in your body.
• Whey protein: Use half a scoop in shakes or yogurt to raise your daily protein intake.
• Caffeine: Can help supply energy, performance, and fat loss.
The ketogenic diet is definitely great, but not for everyone. It is a great choice for people who are diabetic, overweight or wants to improve their body’s metabolic health. Consider it less suitable if you’re an elite athlete or wants to add a large amount of weight or muscle.
Just like any other diet, you’ll only see a visible result if you’re consistent with it in the long term. Having said it all, the powerful weight loss and health benefits of the ketogenic diet can never be overemphasized.