What Is A Ketogenic Diet?
The ketogenic diet is a low carb, high-fat diet. Many studies have proven that this diet helps with weight loss and overall improved health. It may also help with diabetes, cancer, epilepsy, ADHD, Alzheimer’s disease and more.
The ketogenic diet involves significantly reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat. This helps to put the body into a metabolic state called ketosis. When the body goes into ketosis, it’s very efficient at burning fat to be used as energy. The fat is also changed into ketones that supply the brain with energy. A ketogenic diet can also cause great reductions in blood sugar and insulin levels.
Types of Ketogenic Diets
There are many types of ketogenic diets, including:
The standard ketogenic diet allows a very low-carbohydrate, moderate protein and high fat diet. It generally comprises of a ratio of 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% carbs.
The cyclical ketogenic diet involves periods of higher-carbohydrate refeeds. An example would be 5 ketogenic days, followed by 2 high carbohydrate days.
The high-protein ketogenic diet is similar to a standard ketogenic diet, however, it includes more protein. It generally comprises of a ratio of 60% fat, 35% protein, and 5% carbohydrates.
Only the standard and high-protein ketogenic diets have been extensively studied. It should also be noted that the cyclical and targeted ketogenic diets are generally used by bodybuilders or athletes.
Benefits of Ketogenic Diet
The benefits of the standard keto diet are:
Ketogenic diets help with weight loss and to lower the risks associated with some diseases. A study showed that people on ketogenic diets lose about 2.2 times more weight than people on a calorie-restricted low-fat diet. It also helps to improve triglyceride and HDL cholesterol levels.
Helps with diabetes and prediabetes:
Ketogenic diet helps with losing excess fat. Excess fat plays a role in Type 2 diabetes, prediabetes and metabolic syndrome. Ketogenic diets help to improve insulin sensitivity by about 75%.
Other benefits of ketogenic diets include:
The ketogenic diet can improve risk factors associated with heart disease like body fat, HDL cholesterol levels, blood pressure and blood sugar.
The ketogenic diet is being used to treat many forms of cancer and slow tumour growth.
The ketogenic diet may help to reduce symptoms associated with Alzheimers disease and also help to slow its progression.
Research has shown that the ketogenic diet can cause huge reductions in the number of seizures experienced by epileptic children.
The ketogenic diet can also help to improve the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. It can help reduce insulin levels. And it plays an important role in polycystic ovary syndrome.
The Disadvantages of Ketogenic Diet
Ketogenic Flu (Keto flu):
Many people have reported feeling sick when they start ketosis. They experience symptoms such as vomitting, gastrointestinal distress, a lot of fatigue, and lethargy. This illness is referred to as the keto flu. And realistically, it would be expected as your body is cleaning out all of the excess toxins and garbage so it can become healthy.
Approximately 25% of people who try keto diets experience keto flu. Fatigue is the most common symptom. This happens because the body has run out of sugar to use for energy and starts to use fat. The transition from sugar to fat is what causes the body to feel burned out for a few days. The effects of keto flu can be minimized by consuming lots of water and sleeping.
Diarrhea is commonly experienced by people on the ketogenic diet. This is caused when the gall bladder starts to feel overwhelmed. The gall bladder is what makes bile in order to assist in the breakdown of fat in a person’s diet. Diarrhea can also be caused by a lack of fibre in the diet and an intolerance to dairy or artificial sweeteners.
While ketosis can be helpful to a person with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, a diabetic person would need to follow the diet under close supervision of their doctor. It requires a diabetic to check their blood sugar levels very often. Additionally, ketosis can trigger a dangerous condition called ketoacidosis.
Ketoacidosis happens when too many ketones are stored in the body and causes the blood to become too acidic. Ketones are acids which are created as a by-product of burning fat. Ketoacidosis can cause damage to the liver, kidney, and brain. If it’s left untreated, it can lead to death.
Dry mouth, frequent urination, nausea, bad breath, and breathing difficulties are all symptoms of ketoacidosis.
Foods To Eat on Ketogenic Diet
A person who follows a ketogenic diet should include the following foods in their meals:
- Red meat, steak, ham, sausage, bacon, chicken, and turkey
- Fatty fish
- Pastured or Omega 3 whole eggs
- Grass-fed butter and cream
- Unprocessed cheese
- Almonds, walnuts, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, etc.
- Primarily extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, and avocado oil.
- Whole avocados or freshly made guacamole.
- Most green veggies, tomatoes, onions, peppers, etc.
- Salt, pepper, and various healthy herbs and spices
Foods To Avoid
High carbohydrate foods should be avoided. The following foods should be reduced or eliminated altogether:
- Fizzy drinks, fruit juice, smoothies, cake, ice cream, sweets, etc.
- Wheat-based products, rice, pasta, cereal, etc.
- All fruits except for small portions of berries
- Peas, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, etc
- Potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, etc
- Low fat or diet products as they’re highly processed and usually high in carbohydrates
- Some condiments or sauces as they contain sugar and unhealthy fat.
- Alcohol can throw the body out of ketosis due to their carb content
- Sugar-free diet foods affect ketone levels in some cases. They’re also highly processed.