WHAT IS THE KETO DIET?
A ketogenic diet, or keto for short, is a low-carb, high-fat diet that can provide a number of health benefits. It has effectively shown that the diet turns your body into a fat-burning machine, while simultaneously helping you lose weight and boost your energy levels.
HOW DOES THE DIET WORK?
Keto has some traits that are reminiscent of the Atkins diet and other low-carb plans. The keto diet involves dramatically reducing your carbohydrate consumption and substituting fat instead. This dietary alteration will put your body into a metabolic state known as ketosis.
Ketosis is a completely normal metabolic function. Essentially, when your body doesn’t have enough glucose for energy, it will burn stored fat instead. Glucose is created when carbohydrates are broken down inside your body. Cutting carbs from your diet means less glucose for your body to burn up.
Replacing carbs with fats will cause acids called ketones to build up in your body. The goal is to force the body to derive its fuel from fat, rather than carbs.
While your body is in ketosis, it becomes extremely efficient at burning fat. Ketogenic diets can trigger major reductions in your blood sugar and insulin levels, which has additional health benefits.
- Ketosis occurs when the body is denied access to glucose, its main fuel source.
- In ketosis, stored fat is broken down for energy, producing ketones.
- Some people use a ketogenic diet to lose weight by forcing their body to burn surplus fat stores.
- The ketogenic diet was originally developed in the 1920’s to treat epilepsy but was inadvertently discovered to offer many other health benefits.
- There are multiple variations of the ketogenic diet.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF THE DIET?
The ketogenic diet was originally created to treat neurological diseases like epilepsy. Over the last century, countless studies have been performed to examine the other health benefits of ketogenic diets. Keto has been shown to offer benefits for a myriad of health conditions:
- Heart disease: The ketogenic diet can improve cholesterol levels and reduce body fat and blood sugar—all risk factors for heart disease.
- Cancer: Keto is currently being used to treat cancers and slow the growth of tumors.
- Alzheimer’s disease: Keto may reduce the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease or slow its advancement. Research is ongoing.
- Epilepsy: Research has indicated that the ketogenic diet can cause a sizeable reduction in the number of seizures experienced by epileptic children.
- Parkinson’s disease: One study produced evidence that the diet helped improve Parkinson’s disease symptoms, though more research is needed.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome: Keto can lower insulin levels, which may play a role in treating polycystic ovary syndrome.
- Brain injuries: One study conducted on animals found that keto can aid in concussion recovery and post-brain injury recovery.
- Acne: Eating less sugar and processed foods (lower insulin levels) helps improve acne and reduce the frequency of breakouts.
- Diabetes: Keto can increase insulin sensitivity and fat loss, which are significant benefits for people with type 2 diabetes (or prediabetes).
WHAT KIND OF FOODS SHOULD YOU EAT?
You should base most of your meals on these types of foods:
- Meat: Steak, ham, chicken, sausage, bacon, turkey
- Fatty fish: Trout, tuna, mackerel, salmon
- Eggs: Pastured and omega-3 whole eggs
- Butter and cream: Products of grass-fed animals, if possible.
- Cheese: Unprocessed cheddar, cream, goat, blue or mozzarella
- Nuts and seeds: Almonds, flax seeds, walnuts, chia and pumpkin seeds
- Healthy oils: Mainly extra virgin olive oil, but coconut and avocado oil are ok, too.
- Avocados: Whole avocado or fresh guacamole
- Low-carb veggies: Greens, tomatoes, peppers, onions
- Condiments: Salt, pepper, healthy herbs
In keto and most healthy diets, it’s best to base your meals on whole, one-ingredient foods. To learn more about keto-friendly, low-carb foods, check out this list: Ketogenic diet foods – what to eat.
Always try to rotate your vegetables and meats to reduce boredom and maximize your nutritional intake. You can eat a variety of delicious and nutritious meals when following a ketogenic diet plan.
FOODS TO AVOID?
Any food that is high in carbohydrates should be limited or removed while attempting to achieve ketosis. Some of these foods include:
- Sugary foods: Cake, ice cream, candy, soda, fruit juice
- Grains or starches: Cereal, pasta, rice, wheat-based foods
- Fruit: All fruit should be eliminated, with the exception of small portions of berries.
- Beans: Peas, kidney beans, legumes, chickpeas, lentils
- Root vegetables: Potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes
- Low-fat packaged products: These “diet” products are highly processed and usually pack a lot of carbs.
- Condiments and sauces: Many condiments and sauces contain sugaror unhealthy fats. Check the labels!
- Unhealthy fats: Limit things like vegetable oil and mayonnaise.
- Alcohol: Alcoholic beverages are high in carbs, which can take your body out of ketosis.
- Sugar-free diet foods: These products can be high in sugar alcohols, which affect ketone levels. They’re highly processed, too.
WHY DOES THE KETO DIET IMPACT FACT?
Keto can help you lose weight and make some positive changes to your life. The high-fat, low-carb diet has gained a lot of popularity in recent years, creating an entire community of keto-praising eaters.
Unlike with calorie restriction, keto helps you lose weight by putting your body into ketosis. When you eat minimal carbohydrates, your body produces ketones for energy. Ketones are made in your liver from fatty acids found in food or your own body fat. Therefore, your liver actually burns fat to make ketones. Ketones are used for energy in lieu of carbs.
As your body steadily burns fat as a fuel source, you will start to lose weight. You may be wondering if keto can target specific problem areas, such as belly fat. Burning belly fat is high on the priority list for many people. The fat in your belly is visceral fat, which is a dangerous type of fat that lives deep inside the abdomen, encasing your internal organs. Visceral fat is linked to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Technically, you can’t spot-target fat areas for reduction. Your body decides where weight loss will occur. However, keto may be useful for eliminating stubborn belly fat.
Belly fat, or visceral fat, comes from a combination of genes and a diet high in refined carbs and sugar. Visceral fat can easily become inflamed, making it incredibly stubborn to lose and dangerous to surrounding blood vessels. A well-formulated keto regimen has strong anti-inflammatory effects, making it easier to drop stubborn belly fat and improve your overall health and wellbeing.
The Ketogenic diet is clearly a winner if you are looking to burn fat and improve your overall health. That being said, it is a challenge sticking to it religiously. By committing to this diet which as mentioned includes a well balanced, unprocessed diet, rich in very colourful fruits and vegetables, lean meats, fish, whole grains, nuts, seeds, olive oil and lots of water seems to have the best evidence for a long, healthier, vibrant life.