A keto diet is famous for being a low carb diet where the ketones are produced in the liver to be converted and used as energy. It is also called by many experts as a low carbohydrate diet or low carb high fat, (LCHF) etc. When we consume food which is high in carbohydrates, the body produces glucose and insulin. Glucose is the molecule of the body which is easiest to convert into energy so that it will be selected over any other energy resource in the body. Insulin is produced in the body in order to process the glucose in the bloodstream by taking it around the body. Since glucose is being utilized as primary source of energy, the fats present in the body are no more required and therefore gets stored in the body. When eating high carbohydrates diet, the body uses glucose as main form of energy. When the carbohydrates intake is lower, the body is induced into a state of ketosis.
Ketosis is a natural process that the body activates to help us carry on when food intake is low. During this state, ketones are produced in the body from the breakdown of fats in the liver. The purpose of a properly managed keto diet is to bring the body into this metabolic state. It is not just carried through starvation of calories only but more importantly through starvation of carbohydrates. Our bodies tend to adapt to what we put in it. When it is full with fats and empty on carbohydrates, it will soon initiate the burning of ketones as the primary source of energy. Ideal ketones amount offer many health benefits including weight loss and other physical and mental performance benefits.
Benefits of Keto Diet
There are various benefits that come from being on ketogenic diet: from weight reduction to increase in energy levels to various medical applications. Here is a list of the benefits that one may receive from using keto diet:
- Weight Loss
Ketogenic diet makes use of the body fat as a source of energy that results in weight loss benefits. When on keto, the insulin levels lower down greatly and turn the body into a fat burning machine. Scientifically, the keto diet has shown better outcome as compared to low fat and high carb diets, even on long term basis.
- Control Blood Sugar
Keto diet lowers the blood sugar levels naturally because of the type of food being taken in. Research shows that keto diet offers a more effective way to control and prevent diabetes in contrast to low calories diet. If a person is pre-diabetic or have Type II diabetes, then they should consider getting on a ketogenic diet.
- Mental Focus
A lot of people use the ketogenic diet specifically to increase mental performance. Ketones deliver as a great source of energy for the brain. When the carbohydrate intake is lower in the body, the fluctuation in blood sugar can be avoided. Together, this may result in enhanced focus and concentration. Research clearly shows that an increased intake of fatty acids may provide benefits to the function of the brain.
- Increased Energy & Controlled Hunger
By making the body dependent on more reliable source of energy, one may also feel more active and energetic during the day. Fats are shown to be the most effective molecules to burn as energy. Fats are also naturally more fulfilling and end up leaving the person satiated for longer.
The keto diet methods have been applied since early 1900s in order to treat epilepsy successfully. It is also one of the most broadly used treatments for children with uncontrolled epilepsy nowadays. One of the main benefits of keto diet when it comes to epilepsy is that it requires fewer medicines to be used while offering tremendous control.
- Cholesterol & Blood Pressure
A ketogenic diet is known to improve cholesterol levels and triglyceride levels most linked to arterial buildup. The low carb, high fat diet shows a spectacular increase in HDL or reduction in LDL content concentration compared to low fat diets. The research on low carb diets shows much improvement in blood pressure compared with other diets. Some blood pressure problems may be associated with overweight, which is a plus since keto diets tend to lead to weight loss.
- Insulin Resistance
Insulin resistance may cause Type II Diabetes if left untreated. Different studies show that a low carb keto diet may help in lowering insulin levels to ideal range. Even if a person is healthy and athletic, he or she can take benefit from insulin optimization on keto via consuming foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids.
One of the common effects to experience when on ketogenic diet is the improvement in the condition of the skin. One study shows a significant reduction in lesions and skin inflammation when toggling to a low carb diet. Another study proves the link between high carb consumption and increased acne, so it is likely that ketogenic diet may be helpful.
Foods to Eat on a Keto Diet
One needs to plan ahead when getting started on a keto diet. This means having a feasible diet plan ready and awaiting. What we consume is directly related to how fast our bodies get into a ketogenic state. The least amount of carbohydrates one consumes – less than 15g per day – the faster the body enters ketosis. So the amount of carbohydrates needs to be limited and should come mostly from vegetables, dry fruits and dairy. Any refined carbohydrates such as wheat, starch or fruit should be avoided. A few exceptions to the rules are avocados, berries and star fruit which can be consumed in controlled quantity.
- Meats – beef, poultry, eggs, fish, lamb etc.
- Leafy Greens – kale, spinach etc.
- Vegetables above ground – cauliflower, broccoli etc.
- High fat dairy – hard cheese, butter, high fat cream etc.
- Nuts & seeds – walnuts, macadamias, sunflower seeds etc.
- Avocados & berries – blackberries, raspberries. Low glycemic berries etc.
- Sweeteners – monk fruit, erythritol, stevia and low carb sweeteners.
- Other fats – high fat salad dressing, coconut oil, saturated fats etc.
Do Not Eat
- Grains – corn, wheat, cereal, rice etc.
- Sugar – agave, honey, maple syrup etc.
- Fruit – oranges, bananas, apples etc.
- Tubers – yams, potatoes etc.
Can the production of ketones in the body get too high? Indeed it can and it is called ketoacidosis. But it doesn’t occur in normal situations. For most people, just getting into the optimal ranges of ketosis might prove to be a challenge. So getting into the area where it requires medical intervention is highly unlikely. It may be noted here that an exception to ketoacidosis is type II diabetes as it can occur when insulin levels are seriously low, which is usually rare in someone with a normal and functioning pancreas. When the ketone levels are dangerously high, it may result in insulin secretion.
There are many misconceptions about low carb diet that has caused an infamous look into keto mechanism. People sometimes confuse keto with high fat, high carb diets which are bad for the body. Of course one may get into trouble when they eat a lot of fatty foods that are high in sugar. When we eat foods that are rich in fats and carbohydrates, our body starts to produce glucose. Carbohydrates are much easier for the body to process and therefore used as energy first resulting in the extra fats stored in the body. This may result in weight gain and other health issues which is not associated with ketogenic diets. It is always advised to check with the doctor first for any concerns about starting a keto diet.