What Is The Keto Diet All About?
The Ketogenic Diet (also called the Ketosis Diet or Keto diet for short) is based on the principle of allowing the body to achieve the biochemical process of Ketogenesis in order to promote weight loss. This may sound very complicated but basically means that it allows the body to get to a stage where it is burning stored fat for energy resulting in weight loss.
There are two ways to achieve a ketogenic state or ketosis. The first is to starve the body in order to allow it to produce ketones that are necessary to turn stored fat into energy. The second is to eliminate the main source of energy that the body uses for fuel to encourage ketosis – carbohydrates.
While this is a very effective means of losing weight, there is some debate as to whether the Keto Diet is safe and whether it can cause long-term harm or damage to the body. So what is the truth behind the Ketogenic Diet and what facts and fiction should you be aware of?
1. Starvation Vs. Dieting
The Keto Diet does not rely on starvation in order to encourage the production of ketones to break down fatty acids and amino acids. Rather, it starves the body of it’s main source of energy which is carbohydrates. The fact is that the modern way of eating results in the consumption of way to many carbs resulting in energy being stored as fat when it is not used. However, other food sources can also fuel the body although not to sufficient levels for fat storage to occur or to prevent ketosis from being achieved.
2. A Constant State Of Ketosis
The Ketogenic diet does not rely on a constant or consistent state of ketosis in order to achieve weight loss. Remaining in this constant state could be dangerous resulting in the overproduction of ketones. The diet allows for a state of ketosis to be achieved in cycles rather than on a continuous basis. However, a cycle does not mean eating carbs one day and abstaining the next. This will not allow the body to successfully achieve ketosis and start burning stored fat. Excessive ketones can result in ketoacidosis which is a complication of diabetes and results in high levels of sugar in the blood stream or hyperglycemia. This can have major health consequences.
3. Ketosis Vs. Ketoacidosis
Ketosis and ketoacidosis are not the same. Ketosis encourages the release of ketones in the body whereas ketoacidosis is a metabolic condition that results in extremely high levels of ketones in the blood stream. These excessive levels result in increased breakdown of sugar and fat reserves into energy and therefore increased blood sugar levels. Ketosis resulting from the Keto Diet does not result in sufficient ketone production in order to achieve a state of ketoacidosis. The condition is commonly associated to other metabolic health condition such as Diabetes.
4. The Side Effects
When the body does not get the energy that is used to from a diet high in carbohydrates, it is going to result in some side effects. Most commonly, these side effects can include:
– Tiredness, lethargy or fatigue
– Insomnia or difficulty sleeping
– Dizziness or faintness
– Difficulty focusing, concentrating or remembering
– Moodiness or irritability
– Stomach Cramps
– Muscles aches and pains
– Bad breath
– Craving for sweet foods or sugar
These symptoms often appear a few days after starting the Keto Diet but should disappear on their own just as quickly. Not everybody will experience all the same effects to the same degree. However, if the side effects persist or are extreme, it is recommended to stop the diet and make an appointment with a doctor as soon as possible.
5. High Cholesterol And Fat
The Keto diet has been linked to increased cholesterol and this is thought to be due to the increased intake of fat and protein in the diet to replace carbohydrates. However, various studies have shown that the opposite is in fact true and that in most cases participants should a significant reduction in carbohydrates. On the other hand, this does depend on the type of fat that is being consumed and it is highly recommended to avoid saturated fats to get the cholesterol lowering benefits of the Keto Diet.
Just because the amount of carbohydrates being consumed is reduced on the Keto Diet, does not mean that any amount of fat and protein can be eaten to replace those carbs. It is best to increase the consumption of healthy or unsaturated fats that are found in foods like avocados, seeds, nuts and oils.
6. Fruit And Vegetables
Fruit and vegetables are high in carbohydrates and therefore not the ideal choice for the Keto Diet, especially some types of fruits. On the other hand, these food sources are an important source of fiber, vitamins and minerals and are essential to maintaining healthy digestion. The main reason that people suffer from constipation on the Keto Diet is due to a lack of fiber in their diet. Some fruits and vegetables are therefore not only recommended but essential.
7. High Protein
It is a common misconception that the Keto Diet is a high protein diet. Although a higher amount of protein may be consumed to replace the lack of carbohydrates, protein should still be eaten in moderation. Ketones are released when protein is broken down in the body. These ketones, in addition to those that are produced due to ketosis, can become excessive. It is therefore important to limit the amount of protein that is consumed on the diet.
The Keto Diet Is Not For Everyone
Every person metabolizes food differently and while the Keto diet may be very successful for weight loss in one individual, it may not show the same results in another. It is advisable to consult with a qualified nutritionist or dietician in order to achieve the best weight loss results on a low carbohydrate diet that is aimed at achieving ketosis.
Be aware that there are some serious health risks and other problems that can result from extreme fad dieting such as muscle loss, kidney problems, low blood sugar, electrolyte imbalance, vitamin and mineral deficiency, etc.