The ketogenic diet, commonly known as the keto diet, is a nutritional regimen that focuses on foods with a high fat, low carbohydrate content.
The efficiency standard of this diet is high. More than 20 studies have shown that keto is not only effective for losing weight but can also boost your immune system and improve your overall health. It has also proved useful in treating illnesses like diabetes, epilepsy, Alzheimer's disease, and cancer.
Many people who follow the keto diet augment it with appropriate multivitamin supplements. Here is a thorough guide to the keto diet.
What is a keto diet?
The keto diet is a nutritional regimen that is low in carbohydrates and high in fat. It’s like a combination of low-carb and Atkins diets.
It generally involves substituting a high intake of fat for carbohydrates in your diet. The restriction of carbohydrates forces the body into a metabolic state known as ketosis.
The keto diet can reduce insulin resistance and help control blood sugar levels. This is how it’s different from other diet plans.
Some benefits of the keto diet are:
Can lower triglyceride levels by up to 44%
Can lower the frequency of seizures in 75.8% of epileptic children
Athletes can burn 2.3 times more body fat when following a keto diet, making it highly effective for weight loss
What makes the keto diet a good nutritional regimen?
Researchers have stated that the keto diet is a great choice for regulating metabolic syndrome since it generates energy from fats and not carbohydrates.
The balance of macronutrients is different in the keto diet: over 50% fat and around 10% carbohydrates. In a normal diet, the ratios are reversed.
A keto diet consists of 20% protein, which is higher than the amount in a regular diet.
Calorie counting is not as important in the keto diet, compared to this being the basis of a regular weight-loss diet. The keto diet is best suited to people who are prone to certain diseases or who want to shed a few pounds.
A normal diet is considered the easiest to follow. It doesn’t eliminate carbohydrates from the menu, but it keeps the fat content low and increases protein intake. The keto diet, on the other hand, requires you to consume foods that are rich in fats.
For better results, you can complement a keto diet with physical training sessions, as well as multivitamin supplements. Exercise helps break down excess fat and stimulates the digestive system. Studies on the keto diet broadly state that people who engage in any type of physical activity have a lower risk of developing metabolic syndrome.
Consuming low-carb foods helps accelerate weight loss. People who suffer from obesity or other bodyweight problems may benefit from following the keto diet. It is known as a heart-healthy diet because it can reduce the amount of fat stored in the body and lower the risk of stroke or heart failure.
Types of keto diets
The keto diet has been modified to provide a wide range of benefits that meet different people’s requirements.
The keto diet is widely accepted because it forces the body into a state of ketosis. In this state, the body stops using carbohydrates as its main source of energy and starts burning excess body fat, instead.
Therapeutic keto diet
The original version of the keto diet was developed in 1920 to treat convulsions.
According to a study based on current treatment options in neurology, the therapeutic keto diet was mainly used to treat people suffering from epilepsy who had a low response to medication. The study shows that strictly adhering to the keto diet can lower the risk of seizures and lead to massive improvements in the symptoms of metabolic syndrome.
This diet features the lowest carbohydrate intake: 6% protein, 4% carbs, and 90% fats.
This strictest interpretation of the keto diet is very tough to follow.
Standard keto diet
This is the most commonly practiced version of the keto diet. It derives 75% of its calories from fat, 5% from carbohydrates, and 20% from protein. The daily intake of carbohydrates is limited to between 20 and 30 grams.
Compared to a regular diet, the standard keto diet is pretty low in carbohydrates and protein.
Targeted keto diet for athletes
This keto diet combines physical training with supplements and a low-carb intake ‒ a mere 25 grams of carbohydrates can be eaten after 30 to 45 minutes of vigorous exercise. The aim of this practice is to fuel your training session and let your body easily return to the ketosis state.
On a keto diet, you consume carbohydrates that are easy for the body to break down, such as white rice, bread, avocado, kale, asparagus, and macadamia nuts. Your intake of carbohydrates should not add to your existing body fat.
Strictly following the keto diet for 28 days is said to improve performance in endurance athletes.
This generally suits people who do muscle-building workouts, including swimming, playing tennis, and running.
High-protein keto diet
In the high-protein keto diet, 30% of calories are from protein, 65% from fat, and 5% from carbohydrates.
This diet is generally suitable for bodybuilders and elderly people who need to maintain muscle to prevent deterioration. It also works for people who suffer from protein deficiency and excessive hair loss.
A high-protein keto diet is not ideal for people who want high ketone levels. Excessive protein intake will dramatically lower ketone production, as the body uses protein as a fuel source.
Cyclical keto diet
In a cyclical keto diet, you alternate between days that are keto and days that are higher in carbohydrates. You have to follow the standard keto diet for five days, then boost your carb intake for the following two days; this can actually help you stick to the keto regimen.
This diet is usually preferred by people who find it tough to deal with keto on a daily basis. Cardio workouts help provide the motivation to stay in the cycle.
Ensure your body is strong enough to deal with a cyclical keto diet. It’s easy to become dehydrated, which can make you dizzy due to electrolyte imbalance.
Keto diet for diabetes and other conditions
According to a few research studies, a keto diet helps lower the risk of diabetes, promotes glycemic control, and helps burn off extra body fat.
This diet has proved to be effective for people suffering from Type 2 diabetes. It enables the body to maintain regular glucose levels and stay healthy.
The minimal intake of carbs leads to lower sugar levels and reduces the need for insulin shots. It reduces the amount of glucose in the hemoglobin.
Before starting a keto diet, ask your doctor if you should stop or lower your blood sugar medication because the combination may lead to hypoglycemia, a state where blood sugar drops to a dangerous level.
To control blood sugar levels, reduce your intake of carbohydrates while adding a few extra grams of protein. The diabetic keto diet should consist of 10% carbohydrates, 20% protein, and 70% fat.
The keto diet not only benefits people with diabetes but also helps treat other diseases and conditions, such as:
The hallmarks of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are underdeveloped communication skills, impaired social interaction, and repetitive behavior.
Some studies have suggested that the keto diet can benefit people with autism because the condition has similarities with epilepsy. It may help improve behaviors associated with ASD.
Parkinson’s is a nervous system condition that’s characterized by low levels of the signaling molecule dopamine. The scarcity of dopamine produces symptoms like stiffness, partial mobility, unstable posture, and tremors.
The ketones produced by burning stored fat have a neuroprotective effect on the nervous system and brain. A few studies have shown that generating ketones is effective in treating Parkinson's disease.
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
NAFLD is one of the most common liver diseases in the world. This disease is strongly connected to diabetes, obesity, and metabolic syndrome. There is evidence that the keto diet is beneficial in treating NAFLD.
Keto diet for weight loss
These days, many people, irrespective of age, suffer from obesity and other body weight-related diseases. About 2.8 million adults die each year because of obesity.
Many diet plans are said to be effective for weight loss, but there is scientific evidence that the keto diet curbs obesity.
The keto diet is known to reduce body fat and promote muscle mass. How does the keto diet stimulate weight loss to treat obesity?
A keto diet calls for higher protein intake, which increases the rate of fat burning and provides enough energy to carry out bodily functions.
Limiting carbohydrates in the diet helps reduce food intake. Most foods that contain carbohydrates will be off your diet menu.
The body will burn existing fat and glucose for energy.
Increasing the ketone level in the blood suppresses the appetite. The food you eat will make you feel full and will change the level of ghrelin and leptin hormones.
The keto diet reduces lipogenesis, the process of remaking sugar into fat.
The keto diet causes your body to burn fat and substantially elevates the amount of fat burned during your daily activities.
Following this diet strictly increases the amount of fat you burn and reduces the amount of sugar that’s turned into fat.
Various health benefits of the keto diet
The keto diet is helpful in treating many underlying diseases and is considered effective for maintaining a healthy body and sound mind.
Here are a few of the additional health benefits the keto diet offers:
Supports weight loss
The keto diet accelerates weight loss by boosting the metabolism and suppressing the appetite.
The keto diet uses a low intake of carbs and protein to stimulate ketosis. In ketosis, the body breaks down stored body fat for energy.
Reduces the risk of specific cancers
According to a study, a keto diet is ideal for people undergoing cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation therapy. It causes oxidative stress in cancer cells and helps in the elimination process.
As we know, the keto diet reduces the need for insulin, which is related to some cancerous factors.
Improves heart health
While following the keto diet, make sure you take in healthy carbohydrates, such as avocado and asparagus. Higher consumption of healthy carbohydrates lowers your cholesterol and promotes a healthy heart.
High cholesterol advances the risk of cardiovascular disease, strokes, and heart failure.
A study shows that a keto diet lowers low-density lipoprotein and triglyceride levels, and boosts high-density lipoprotein.
Protect brain function
Some studies show that ketones, which are produced during the breakdown of stored fat, provide neuroprotective benefits. They help bolster brain and nerve cells and prevent further damage.
The keto diet is also beneficial for treating Alzheimer's disease.
Potentially reduces convulsions
The ketones produced during ketosis have proved beneficial for people suffering from epilepsy.
The Epilepsy Foundation stated that a high level of ketones is useful in reducing convulsions or seizures. As mentioned previously, the keto diet is prescribed as a treatment for patients who have stopped responding to medications.
Improves polycystic ovary syndrome
PCOS is a hormonal disorder that may involve excessive levels of male hormones, fluid in the ovaries, and ovulatory dysfunction. Women who suffer from this disease should restrict their intake of refined carbohydrates because they can cause obesity and various skin problems.
A study has proved that a keto diet can help improve PCOS symptoms. The keto diet promotes weight loss, helps regulate the ratios of follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone, and regulates insulin levels.
For those who don’t know what to eat on the keto diet, here are a few food suggestions:
Fish is a great source of vitamin B, selenium, and potassium. It’s also high in protein and low in carbohydrates. Sardines, albacore tuna, salmon, mackerel, and other seafood boasts a high level of omega-3 fatty acids, which help lower blood sugar levels and reduce the need for insulin.
Cheese is a carb-free product that is rich in fat, and is one of the most common foods on a keto diet menu. It’s a great source of calcium and protein.
Greek yogurt and cottage cheese
These are great sources of protein and calcium. Greek yogurt has 5 grams of carbs and 12 grams of protein. Cottage cheese offers 5 grams of carbs and 18 grams of protein.
Avocados are rich in potassium and monounsaturated fats. They are known as heart-healthy fruit and provide many other minerals.
Eggs are known to be a great source of vitamin B, protein, and different minerals. They are affordable and should be consumed on a daily basis while following a keto diet.
Healthy oils, seeds, and nuts
Seeds and nuts provide protein, fiber, and fats, including monounsaturated fat and healthy polyunsaturated fat; they also have a low carb content. Coconut and olive oil are recommended as part of a keto diet.
It’s important to follow the keto regimen strictly in order to achieve the best results. Discontinuing it can cause adverse physical effects and lower your immunity.
The keto diet not only combats obesity and diseases but is recommended for the proper maintenance of a healthy body. There are various versions of the keto diet; choose the one that meets your body’s requirements. Don’t start a keto regimen without learning its benefits or risk factors.
Adjust your diet plan according to your body’s needs. If you don’t engage in regular workouts or athletic activity, try to avoid a high-protein keto diet and follow the standard keto diet instead.
While you are on this kind of diet; however, it’s important that you take the minerals and multivitamin supplements your body needs to function properly.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs):
Q1 - What do you eat on a ketogenic diet?
- Meat – Unprocessed meat is low in carbs, keto-friendly, and organic; and grass-fed meat can be an even better option.
- Fish and seafood – Fatty fish like salmon can make great ketogenic meals. If you are concerned about mercury or other toxins, try consuming more small fish such as sardines, mackerel, and herring.
- Eggs – Eat them any way you want, e.g. boiled, fried in butter, scrambled, or as omelets.
- Natural fat, high-fat sauces – Most of the calories in a keto diet can come from fat. You're likely to get a lot of it from natural sources like meat, fish, eggs, and more.
Q2 - What fruits can I eat on keto?
A2 - The keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet, mostly limited to less than 20–50 grams of carbs per day. As such, many high-carb foods are considered off-limits in this diet, including many types of grains, starchy vegetables, legumes, and berries. These are the types of fruits you can eat. Avocados, Watermelon, Strawberries, Lemon, Tomatoes, Raspberries, Peaches, Cantaloupe.
Q3 - Is keto healthy?
- The keto diet can cause low blood pressure, kidney stones, constipation, nutritional deficiencies, and an increased risk of heart disease. Strict diets like keto can also induce social isolation or eating disorders. Keto is not suitable for people with any problems affecting their pancreas, liver, thyroid, or gallbladder.
- However, many researchers claim that ketosis itself is not inherently harmful. In fact, some studies indicate that a ketogenic diet is healthy for people who are severely overweight or obese. However, other clinical reviews indicate that patients on low-carbohydrate diets gain some of their weight loss within a year.
Q4 - What foods do I avoid on a ketogenic diet?
A4 - List of foods to avoid on a keto diet-
- Grains- Pumpernickel, Oatmeal, Wheat, Rye, Sourdough, Oats, Corn, Buckwheat, Barley, Rice
- Fruits- Tangerines, Oranges, Pineapples, Bananas, Apples, Pears, Grapes, Fruit Juices, Mangos, Nectarines, Peaches
- Vegetables- Potatoes, Sweet potatoes, Baked potatoes, Yams, Peas, Corn, Artichoke, Parsnips
- Dairy- Most kinds of milk, Condensed milk, Creamed cottage cheese, Fat-free or low-fat yogurt
- Beverages- Colas, Hot Chocolate, Ginger Ale, Grape Soda, Root Beer, Tonic Water (Not sugar-free), Energy Drinks (Not sugar-free), Sports Drinks, Vitamin Water, Fruit juices, Lemonade, Sweetened iced tea, Frappuccino, Mocha, Non-light beers, Cocktails such as margaritas, screwdrivers, and piña coladas.
Q5 - Can you drink coffee on keto?
A5 - The amount of coffee you can have on keto varies between individuals as it does for people who eat any kind of food. You can have plain coffee, or coffee with unsweetened heavy cream, while on a keto diet. Like with tea, what you add to your brew matters the most.