What is a Keto Diet?
This particular diet has gained significant popularity in recent years, touted for its potential benefits, such as weight loss and increased energy levels.
The keto diet is essentially a low-carb, high-fat diet. It involves dramatically reducing your intake of carbohydrates and replacing it with fat. The reduction in carbs puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis, hence the name ‘keto’.
Let’s delve into this concept of ketosis a bit more. It’s a natural metabolic state in which the body, due to the lack of glucose from carbohydrates, starts to burn fat for energy. This process produces molecules called ketones, which are used as a source of energy. The liver produces ketones from fat, which serve as an energy source for the body, particularly the brain which consumes a lot of energy and cannot run on fat directly.
What Can You Eat?
Now, you may wonder what exactly you can eat on a keto diet. The mainstay of your meals should be high in fats. This includes foods like meats, fish, eggs, avocados, oils, nuts, and seeds. Green and leafy vegetables that grow above ground, like kale, spinach, and broccoli, are also recommended as they are low in carbs.
Foods rich in carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, rice, and sugary foods are to be significantly reduced or even eliminated from your diet. The same applies to most fruits, as they tend to be high in sugars, which are carbohydrates. An exception is berries which you can enjoy in moderation.
A standard ketogenic diet typically limits carbs to 5–10% of daily calories, with proteins making up 20–25% and fats providing the remaining 70–75%. However, it’s essential to note that there are several versions of the keto diet, and the macronutrient composition can vary.
Moving on to the potential benefits of the keto diet. Many people adopt this eating approach to lose weight and it’s been studied for its potential benefits in managing other health conditions, like epilepsy, diabetes, and even certain cancers.
In terms of weight loss, the keto diet may help by promoting feelings of fullness, reducing calorie intake, and boosting metabolism. Several studies suggest that keto diets lead to more weight loss, at least in the short term, compared to other diets.
It’s also been studied in the realm of neurological disorders. The keto diet was originally used to treat seizures in people with epilepsy and has shown potential benefits for other neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.
It’s important, however, to note that while the keto diet has potential health benefits, it may also have side effects, particularly when starting the diet. These may include headache, fatigue, and mental fog, often referred to as the ‘keto flu’. These symptoms usually subside after your body adjusts to being in ketosis.
Furthermore, a long-term, high-fat diet might raise the risk of heart disease, kidney stones, liver disease, and deficiencies in certain nutrients. Therefore, it’s highly advisable to consult with a healthcare provider or a dietitian before starting a keto diet, especially for those with existing health conditions.
In conclusion, the ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet that can potentially aid in weight loss and may offer other health benefits. However, it’s not suitable for everyone, and a certain level of caution is recommended when embarking on this diet. As with any dietary changes, individual needs and circumstances should always be taken into account, ideally under the guidance of a healthcare professional.