Many have switched to the ketogenic diet. It does not come as a surprise. Apart from it being an effective excess weight buster, it also has multiple benefits to enjoy. Here is what a keto diet is all about and why ketosis is truly worth the time and the effort.
What Ketogenic Diet Is
In a nutshell, the ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet. This definition is pretty straightforward. On one hand, you increase your intake of fat. On the other, there is a drastic reduction of carbohydrates in your day-to-day meals. One might say that having a high-fat diet is counterintuitive. However, by limiting carbohydrates and loading up on fat, a person catalyzes ketosis which is a process truly beneficial for people who want to perpetually keep unwanted weight at bay.
Let us look into keto diet a little bit more. In the previous paragraph, the word ketosis was mentioned. What exactly is ketosis? Ketosis is just like any natural metabolic process. The only difference is that since there is a lack of carbohydrates, the body burns up fat as an alternative source of energy. When this happens, the by-product is called ketones hence the name of the process, ketosis.
There are many reasons why achieving ketosis is the new holy grail among diets. It burns fat faster. It helps a person feel satiated which means fewer cravings. It also offers other benefits such as preventing certain diseases and maintaining muscle. All these make the ketogenic diet really effective as a means for healthy weight loss.
Different Strokes for Different Folks
There are different approaches when it comes to maintaining a keto lifestyle. People tend to create their own program with certain health and dietary concerns to consider. However, there are four main types of the keto diet that research proves to be most effective:
- Regular Keto Diet. This is the most common type of ketogenic diet. The ratio here is 75% Fat; 20% Protein; and 5% Carbohydrates. You maintain this ratio in all your daily meals.
- High Pro. This just means higher protein as compared to the regular ketogenic diet. The ratio here is 60% Fat; 35% Protein; and 5% Carbohydrates. Again, you maintain this ratio in all your daily meals.
- Cyclical. To achieve ketosis, you follow the regular ketogenic diet for five straight days. For the two remaining days, you increase your carbohydrate intake.
- Targeted. If you are doing strenuous training or a heavy cardio workout, this type accommodates an increase in carbohydrate intake but only during the time of training. This can get a lot tricky because unlike the first three which are relatively standard, here you have to adjust your keto meals menu from time to time to accommodate your need for carbs. This is the main reason why most people who follow the keto lifestyle stick to low energy workout like yoga so they do not have to spend too much time calibrating their carb intake to complete their fitness training. For athletes, however, this might not be a choice. This is the reason why some hire nutritionists who can help them keep track of their carb intake during heavy training days.
Benefits of a Ketogenic Diet
The best thing about a ketogenic diet is that it has been a topic of research for a significant period of time. From those studies, the following benefits have been proven to be a result of a ketogenic diet:
- It is very effective at achieving weight loss.
- It gives a feeling of satiation which means fewer cravings.
- It helps regulate cholesterol.
- It also helps regulate blood sugar level.
- It improves insulin sensitivity.
- It helps treat Type 2 diabetes.
- It lowers the risk for heart disease.
- It inhibits tumor growth and can help treat cancer.
- It helps treat brain injuries.
- It helps treat acne.
- It improves symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and Epilepsy.
- It helps treat Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.
Keep in mind that a ketogenic diet is just one variable in the whole equation. You have to do it in conjunction with regular exercise. Supplements can help as well. Make sure you consult a nutritionist or a doctor who specializes in ketogenic diet so you can create a meal program designed according to your needs and other health considerations.
As your body adjusts to a new way of eating, it is understandable that you might feel the following side effects:
- Difficulty focusing
- Sugar cravings
- Muscle cramps
- Lack of motivation
The good thing is that symptoms usually peter out as the body fully adjusts to your new diet. There are ways that you can help remedy these symptoms.
- Drink more water (at least three liters per day). You mix a pinch of salt in there.
- Slow down the transition. Give your body time to adjust. Shift gradually.
- The lesser the strenuous activity, the better. Do not stress yourself too much. Take it easy.
- Eat enough. The best thing here is to consult a ketogenic diet specialist to help you create a healthy keto meal program that will not restrict you from having the right amount of nutrients to get by the day.
As mentioned earlier, it would be good to consult a keto expert especially when you are new at this type of diet. You see, there is such a thing as too much ketones. You call this condition ketoacidosis. This happens when there is too much ketone build up. This is a life-threatening situation since it can lead to coma or even death. To counter this, you have to have a good meal program and you have to learn to keep track of of your ketones. Here are some signs of ketoacidosis:
- Dry skin
- Pain in the belly
- Fruit-smelling breath
- Dry mouth
- Increase in urinaation
- Body malaise
- Trouble breathing
- Upset stomach
If you experience any of these symptoms in the middle of a ketogenic diet, see the doctor immediately.
A ketogenic diet is a great ally when it comes to healthy weight loss. But, you have to clearly draw the line between a healthy meal program and starvation. The ideal way is to see a keto expert to help you create a program and adjust to a new lifestyle. This way you can enjoy all the benefits that a ketogenic diet can offer when done the right way.