The term "ketogenic", often referred to as "keto" for short, is used to describe a low-carb, high-fat diet. It has nothing to do with the number of carbs you eat.
Not long ago, eating a ketogenic diet was the last thing you’d want to do if you wanted to live a healthy lifestyle. It was seen as something of a fad diet, associated with failure, starvation, and weakness. It’s certainly come a long way from its origins—but does it still deserve this reputation? Is it an effective way to lose weight and improve your health?
What is Ketogenic Diet?
A keto diet is one that aims to burn fat for fuel. Ketosis is a metabolic state in which the liver converts fat into small energy molecules called ketones, which your brain and other organs can use for energy.
When you eat a keto diet, your insulin levels drop, which can help you access your body fat stores for energy. Many studies have shown significant weight loss on keto, without having to count calories.
What Is the Main Purpose of the Ketogenic Diet?
The main purpose of a ketogenic diet is to help your body enter a state of ketosis during which it burns fat rather than carbs for fuel. This typically requires limiting carb consumption to around 20–50 grams per day, filling up on fats like meat, fish, eggs, nuts, and healthy oils, and moderating protein consumption (the latter because protein can be converted into glucose if consumed in high amounts).
By fasting intermittently, you can help yourself get into ketosis faster. Intermittent fasting means eating your calories in a pattern that alternates between periods of eating and abstaining from food.
The trick to this diet is that dietary fat doesn't stimulate insulin production the same way carbohydrates do. When the body is burning more fat for energy, it becomes more sensitive to insulin and can continue accessing fat stores for energy.
What Are the Benefits of Keto Diet?
If you enjoy the foods that you eat during a ketogenic diet, you’re more likely to stick with it long term.
1) Lose weight without feeling hungry
Studies have shown that keto and low-carb diets can help you lose weight, especially when compared to other diets. This is because these types of diets tend to lower insulin levels, which means your body is able to access its fat stores more easily.
One reason for this is that keto diets help people to feel more satiated, which can reduce their food intake.
2) Can reverse or control type 2 diabetes
Research shows that the keto diet can help improve blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes. That's because reducing carb intake lowers blood sugar levels.
3) Enhances metabolic health & blood pressure
By consuming a diet rich in healthy fats, your body can lower blood pressure, improve blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and reduce the risk of heart disease.
4) Controls type-1 diabetes
Low carb diets have been shown to improve blood sugar control and reduce the risk of hypoglycemia (dangerously low blood sugar). Keto diets may play a strong role in improving several markers of metabolic health, including blood pressure, blood sugar, HDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels.
What Are the Risks of Keto Diet?
Research suggests that keto diets provide adequate nutrition and are unlikely to cause harm. It is true that some people following keto diets have experienced side effects, including kidney stones, vitamins, and mineral deficiencies, but these side effects are rare.
Side effects are rare, but it's still important to talk with a doctor before starting the diet. In some cases, elevated LDL levels have occurred in people who eat keto or low-carb diets with less fat and more protein than the classic ketogenic diet. But in people with diabetes or insulin resistance, low-carb eating often improves lipid markers overall.
What Foods Do You Eat on Keto Diet?
Here’s a list of foods to include in a ketogenic diet:
- eggs and dairy products like cheese and cream
- seeds and nuts: pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, walnuts etc.
- low-carb vegetables: spinach, lettuce, asparagus, cucumber, green beans etc.
- fats: avocado oil, coconut oil
What Foods Should You Avoid While on Keto?
Avoid chips, crackers, and other processed snack foods that are high in carbohydrates and low in fiber. Avoid sugars as well. Sugar is high in carbohydrates and low in nutrients. Gluten-free doesn't equal carb-free; many gluten-free breads and muffins are just as high in carbs as traditional baked goods. They usually lack fiber, too.
Who Should Not Do Keto Diet?
As long as you speak with your doctor about adjusting your medications, a keto diet is safe for most people. However, if you're breastfeeding or have rare metabolic conditions that are typically diagnosed in childhood, you should avoid being in ketosis.