A ketogenic diet, in simple words, is a low-carb and high-fat diet (LCHF). A standard ketogenic diet (SKD) comprises almost 70% fat, 20% proteins, and 10% carbohydrates. In other words, you are replacing the carbs in your diet (50% of your daily food) with healthy fats (long-chain triglycerides) and a little protein. With no carbs, the body goes into a metabolic state, where it uses fats as a source of energy instead of glucose.
How does it work?
Basically, after 3 to 4 days of low carb intake (less than 50 g daily), the body cries out for glucose to make energy, which is scarce. So, the body uses fat instead, for producing ketones as an energy source, by a process called ketosis that uses a greater amount of calories (and hence results in weight loss).
Who uses a ketogenic diet and why?
Classically, a ketogenic diet is prescribed by physicians to epileptic patients, who fail to respond to seizure medicines. The ketogenic diet reduces glucose and thus the insulin requirements of the body, hence alleviating the hyperinsulinemia in diabetics and pre-diabetics.
Also, the ketogenic diet has proved to be helpful with patients with underlying heart, brain, and skin conditions.
The ketogenic diet has also proved to be productive in endurance athletes who ended up with better focus and effective performance. If you want to start a ketogenic diet, talk to your consultant, and start today.
Health benefits of a Keto Diet
1. Fat Burn
Fight fat by consuming more of it. Strange! Isn’t it? When the body is not getting glucose for energy, it will use fats.
2. Swaps the energy source
Ketones are in many ways better than glucose. They can pass from blood to the brain and provide it instant energy. Even if they are in excess, they’re just excreted out.
3. Brain disorders
It has been proved that the ketogenic diet relieves the symptoms of epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease.
4. Controls blood sugar and insulin sensitivity
Low sugar in the diet means a lesser need for insulin People with diabetes type 2 who follow keto diet have shown to partly or completely give up medications. They showed up with a low glycemic index and HbA1c levels.
A study shows that a high carb diet causes acne. Ketogenic diet checks insulin and results in reduced, inflammation, and acne breakouts.
6. Blood pressure and cholesterol
Increased blood pressure and cholesterol levels are directly related to excess weight.
Since, keto diet uses good fat (HDL) instead of bad fat (LDL), and helps in weight loss; it also lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, and hence the risk of cardiovascular complications.
It is well known that 1g of fat provides twice as much energy as the same amount of carbohydrates or proteins. Also, naturally, fatty meals are more fulfilling than others.
Effective Weight Loss Strategy
Drop-in levels of insulin and fat-storing hormones, and the use of fats as fuel would lead to weight loss.
Fat>carb, so, your meals should revolve around these foods
- Fatty fish
- Seeds and nuts
- Cheese, butter, and cream (unprocessed)
- Shirataki ramen
- MCT oils
- Low carb vegetables (peppers and green veggies)
- Berries ( they are stuffed with vitamins and antioxidants needed for keto diet)
- Keto-friendly drinks (WATER, bullet-proof coffee, coconut water, vegetable juice)
- Snacks-if you must( cheese with olives, cream with strawberries, full-fat yogurt, boiled eggs, dark chocolate)
Foods to Avoid
A big NO to high carb food.
Limit the use of:
- Sugary drinks ( fruit juices, soda, smoothies)
- High carb vegetables (potatoes, carrots)
- Unhealthy fats
- Fruits (some berries are allowed)
- Grains (rice, wheat)
- Beans (chickpeas, peas, various pulses)
- Processed foods ( processed oils, sugar-alcohol containing diet foods, mayonnaise)
Keto diet plan sample for Beginners
Limit yourself to low carb food (less than 50 g per day). Your diet should be 60-80% fat which should be healthy and unprocessed. It’s better if you stick to MCT oils. You need to plan to avoid any slip-ups. We’ll try to keep it interesting by changing the menu.
How to Plan?
- Choose fatty meat
- Choose low-carb veggies
- Swap carb with fats
Keto Food Recipes
Even restricting yourself to keto-friendly foods, you can have a variety of recipes and can enjoy a different one at every meal a year without repeating. Having said that, let’s start!
- Bun-less crispy tuna burgers
- Thai Cabbage curry
- Broccoli mash
- Kale chips
- Keto bread
- Keto wraps-
- Seafood omelet
- Grilled shrimp
- Flavored water
Side Effects & Mitigation of Ketogenic Diet
As there is a sudden cut off of carbs, therefore the body manifests withdrawal symptoms. Other side-effects include keto-flu. It is just our body trying to get acclimatized to using fat as fuel.
- Sleeping difficulties
- Lack of energy
- Lethargy and limb cramps
- Mental fog
- Electrolyte imbalance
Usually, this condition is temporary and the body soon adapts to use the new energy source, and the side effects disappear in 3 to 4 days. Therefore, spare a week from your work to deal with these disturbances.
Some individuals may experience long term issues, like:
- Kidney problems
There is an increased risk of developing kidney stones like the high ketones in the blood that might overload the organ.
- Liver Abnormalities
Fat is metabolized into ketones in the liver. Sudden flooding of the liver with fat will increase the workload.
- Nutritional insufficiencies
The absence of various fruits, grains, and vegetables in the diet leads to a deficiency of various vitamins and minerals that are essential for the functioning of the body. This may lead to hormonal disturbances.
- Gastrointestinal disturbances
The sudden change in fiber intake leads to constipation or diarrhea.
Regardless of all the provided data, nothing can substitute professional advice. So, always consult a dietician before starting any diet plan.