Weight loss and its solutions, the internet is loaded with tons of ways and articles providing numerous tips and recipes regardless of the shortcomings associated with them and people are following them religiously until they find out the reality. Of the widely available diets, ketogenic diet or keto diet has gained the most hype because of its amazing turnover. Here is a detailed guide for you as a beginner to decide for yourself through well-proven and widely practiced scientific facts.
Ketogenic Diet: An Overview
Ketogenic diet, also known as the keto diet, is a diet rich in fats and has quite low carbohydrates when it comes to proportions. In the ketogenic diet, your body totally relies on fats as a source of energy and serves as fuel to keep you going throughout the day, but another fact is that not all diets low in carbohydrates are ketogenic. This diet helps in the release of ketones (ketone bodies) from the liver which can do wonders for our bodies in terms of good health. A ketogenic diet meal comprises of three portions if considered in calorie intake: fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. The ratio of these components of a ketogenic meal is as follows:
- Fats (healthy): 70-80% of the total calories
- Proteins: 20-30% of the total calories
- Carbohydrates: 5% or less of the total calories (equivalent to 30-50 grams per day of carbohydrates)
Medically, this diet has been revised by the physicians to 10% proteins, 90% fats and approximately zero carbohydrates for the epileptic children to get rid of the disease. Ketogenic diets are only this extreme for children with epilepsy so there is no need to be harsh on yourself. Dependence of the body entirely on the fats by consuming less carbohydrates makes your body burn more fats hence making it more favorable for losing weight.
Ketosis and Its Importance in Ketogenic Diet
Ketogenic diet turns your bodies into the production of ketones or ketone bodies and this state of the ketone production is referred to as ketosis. Ketones are produced by the liver as high energy packets when the body is on low carbohydrates intake. This process of ketones production is what makes the ketogenic diet stand out among numerous diets.
Science has proven ketones to date back to ancient times hundreds of millions of years ago as a source of energy. Ketones are a trusty way of our body to provide for enough energy when your body is on low carbohydrates intake. The energy produced through ketones helped those people survive periods of starvation, low crop or plant production or in times of extended fasts. Normally there are three primary types of ketones in our body:
- Beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB)
Adding more to it, the body also relies somewhat on the process of gluconeogenesis (conversion of glycerol, amino acids and lactate into glucose) to maintain adequate levels of blood sugar to avoid falling them down below the borderline. Ketones are much easily utilized by the brain and several other organs in comparison to carbohydrates for energy purposes. Therefore, the ketogenic diet comes out with the output of clarity of thoughts, lesser hunger and improved mood for most of the people.
Ketones have proven to be anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant in nature which serves an additional benefit for the repair of the cells which might have undergone any stressor injury pertaining to excessive intake of sugars but a diet rich in carbohydrates does not initiate ketosis. For ketosis to take place, it is necessary to switch to a ketogenic diet at any time. Even though your body has low carbohydrate levels, ketosis can provide for you enough energy regardless of the time of your next meal intake.
History Behind Ketogenic Diet
The hype of ketogenic diet dates back to 100 years when it was practiced as a remedy to cure epilepsy in children. The first prescription of ketogenic diet for the very purpose was written in 1911. There was no other use of this diet that could be the reason for putting it into practice. Cutting down of the carbohydrates from the normal diet, according to some researchers, had proven to subside epilepsy in children to a greater extent. Ketogenic diet is still into practice for treating epilepsy and can efficiently reduce it up to 85%. During this time period when many dietary alternatives such as skimmed milk, low-fat milk, and consumption of egg whites experimented for weight loss, but ketogenic diet gained more public attention silently and quietly after observing peer reviewers.
Slowly and steadily, the ketogenic diet managed to gain the attention of researchers in 2017 when the results of this diet were no longer avoidable or neglectable. After that various peer-reviewed articles were published highlighting the importance of ketogenic diet over fad diet (diet with dietary supplements). But keto is not even near to fad diet as it is a whole meal not only ensuring weight loss but also a treatment and cure for numerous diseases and disorders. Highly reviewed journals have published numerous articles pertaining to the benefits of keto diet and have listed diseases which are easily treatable following this diet like anxiety, autoimmune disorders, dementia associated with Alzheimer’s, ADHD, autism, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and hypertension (high blood pressure). With the advancement of science, scientists have found a way out to induce ketosis without falling for a complete keto diet by taking keto supplements like MCT (medium-chain triglycerides) oil or BHB.
Types of Ketogenic Diet
Various modifications or alterations can be done to the ketogenic diet meal because of the window availability for consumption of fats and proteins. Some of the ketogenic diets are listed below:
- Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD): A SKD plan incorporates moderate levels of protein, high ratio of fats and negligible amounts of carbohydrates and these areas 20% proteins, 75% fats, and 5% carbohydrates.
- Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD): CKD allows for the high-carb intake in the ketogenic diet but on restricted days like you can have 5 days of ketogenic diet and 2 days of high carbohydrates intake.
- Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD): TKD is quite similar to SKD but this allows for high-carb intake around the exercise period to keep up with the energy level.
- High-Protein Ketogenic Diet (HPKD): High-protein ketogenic diet has the same trend as that of SKD but in this, the ratio of protein is higher than that in SKD. The ratio in HPKD is 35% protein, 60% fats, and 5% carbohydrates.
Standard and high-protein ketogenic diets are the only diets which have been studied extensively and the remaining two types of ketogenic diets are adopted by the athletes or the bodybuilders. But out of these, only SKD is practiced worldwide.
Effects of Ketogenic Diet on Your Body
Ketogenic diet has massive impact on our body and out of all the benefits some of these are discussed in detail as below:
- Weight Loss and Reduced Hunger
Ketogenic diet is known to reduce the weight without considering the calorie intake. Hunger or appetite is another factor that is to be controlled but is of no issue when it comes to sticking to a ketogenic diet as it allows you to eat to your fullest. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2008), people who followed the ketogenic diet reduced much more weight than the people who followed other diets rich in carbohydrates. Diets other ketogenic diets do not allow you to eat to your max and satisfy your appetite hence craving remains there making you eat more. But ketogenic diet allows you to satisfy all your cravings without bringing in to notice the calorie counter.
Ketosis makes the body sensitive to insulin and initiates the oxidation of fat ensuring the availability of fats to be utilized by the body as fuel to keep up through all the activities of life. Low carbohydrate levels in the body decrease the hunger or appetite or cravings and save you from sugar crashes to avoid weight gain. Ketogenic diet keeps you full without worrying about calories and still puts the body to burn fat and continue to do so regardless of the low carbohydrate level.
- Well-Maintained Blood Glucose/ Sugar Levels and Decreased Risk of Chronic Illnesses
Consumption of SAD (Standard American Diet) brings about a sudden increase in blood sugar levels followed by numerous dips and peaks even after the meals throughout the day. Excessive intake of carbohydrates causes the blood sugar levels to increase leading to insulin resistance and damaging the cells and tissues. Ketogenic diet, on the other hand, is quite capable of reducing the blood sugar levels from the danger point and reduces the sugar cravings by suppressing the appetite. This diet hence saves you from being lethargic, crashing on junk and gaining weight by controlling your hunger. Disturbance of metabolism is one of the major side effects of high sugar levels which can now be modulated through the keto diet.
According to a trial conducted on patients with type-2 diabetes and were obese too in 2016, they were divided into random groups. One group was provided with a low-calorie keto diet and the other with just a low-calorie diet. The patients who were given keto diet, even though of low calorie, not only experienced drop in their weight but also, they had improved sensitivity to insulin bringing about the suppression of type-2 diabetes. Therefore, a ketogenic diet is not useful in reducing weight but also in helping in various chronic illnesses.
- Improvement in Focus, Mental Clarity and Mood
Low carbohydrate levels in the blood serum allow producing ketones from the liver which serve as energy packets to keep you going. In comparison to normal glucose, ketones are easily absorbed by the brain and other organs and secondly, they do not produce any toxic by-products as those produced by the glucose. This makes ketones a good source of energy for the brain to work, free from any toxic metabolites, thereby ensuring clear and healthy working of the organ. Ketones facilitate healthy cognitive performance, mental stability in terms of thinking and mood.
With the progression of age, elderly people face insulin resistance along with other illnesses which can alter their cognitive performance because of the intake of unhealthy or processed sugary food items during their life. According to studies, this makes difficult for the brain to utilize carbs in its own benefit but still, ketones can serve the purpose regardless of age. Easy penetration and clear energy provision by the ketones in the brain make them be equally appropriate for the elder people to ensure their cognitive improvement.
- Reduction in Inflammation
Inflammation is basically the response of your body when it is undergoing any kind of stress at the cellular level. This results in swelling, genetic expression changes and damage of the tissues. Having fever or swollen joint are two major examples of inflammation. Inflammation is not harmful as it prepares your body to fight infections and heal the damage that has been done. But this is not true when it comes to chronic inflammation which involves damage to the internal organs of the body along with homeostasis as it is linked to allergies, chronic pain, and autoimmune disorders. There are two ways through which chronic inflammation can be dealt with by a ketogenic diet:
- Less consumption of sugar can lead to reduced inflammatory response by the body.
- Either the production of ketones or the intake of exogenous ketones can bring about the activation of the natural anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory pathways for the body.
These two points if taken together prove that the ketogenic diet is quite suitable to fight against chronic inflammation by reducing chronic pain, swelling and also helping in healing of the body.
Foods to be Included and Avoided in Ketogenic Diet
- Foods to INCLUDE in Ketogenic Diet:
A wide window of calories or fats intake makes it quite flexible to adjust the daily meals as per your desire. Some of the meals that follow under ketogenic diet are:
Meat (chicken, beef, turkey, bacon, sausages, ham etc.), Low-carb veggies(onions, peppers, tomatoes, green leafy vegetables), Fatty fish(salmon, tuna, trout), Eggs (omega-3 eggs, pastured eggs), Cheese, Butter and Cream (grass-fed cream and butter, unprocessed cheese like cream, cheddar, blue, mozzarella and goat), Oils (coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil), Seeds and Nuts (chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, almonds), Avocados (either fresh guacamole or whole avocados), and Condiments (pepper, salt and herbs).
- Foods to AVOID in Ketogenic Diet:
There are certain food items that don’t fall under the shade of a ketogenic diet. Some of these food items which must be avoided during this diet are:
Sugary foods (ice cream, cakes, smoothies, fruit juices, soda), Fruits (all fruits contain sugar except strawberries), Grains or starches (pasta, rice, cereal and other wheat-based products), Beans or legumes (chickpeas, lentils, beans), Low-fat or diet products (highly processed, rich in carbohydrates), Unhealthy fats (mayonnaise, processed vegetable oils), Root vegetables and tubers (parsnips, potatoes, sweet potatoes), Condiments or sauces (containing sugar along with unhealthy fats), Sugar-free diet foods (highly processed items or alcohols rich in sugar alter ketone levels) and Alcohol (carbohydrate content of alcohol can put a stop to ketosis).
Do’s and Don’ts of Ketogenic Diet
There are certain Do and Don’ts associated with any particular diet to get the most out of that diet. For the ketogenic diet, these to do and to avoid stuff include:
Do’s of Ketogenic Diet:
- Check the levels of ketones in your blood to ensure the initiation of ketosis.
- Keep yourself hydrated as you might face some mineral, salt, and water imbalance at the start of the diet. Secondly, drinking water is another way to give you a feeling of the fuller stomach thereby reducing appetite. Once the fat burning is initiated, every gram of burnt fat provides you with 1.1 g of water, metabolic water, to nourish the cells and then dehydration won’t be of any concern.
- Make this diet your habit by planning your life with special reference to the ketogenic diet. Normally, 21 days are considered quite adequate in forming a habit.
- Get ready by making up your mind for keto flu and other side effects that might accompany the ketogenic diet.
Don’ts of Ketogenic Diet:
- Don’t stick for dirty keto hyped product as ketogenic diet won’t be easy in the beginning but it should not make you switch to a dirty shortcut.
- Don’t count your calorie intake rather you should be looking forward to the number of carbohydrates ingested.
- Don’t weigh yourself after the first day of your diet which is a common beginner mistake.
- Don’t overlook your protein and fat portions.
Side Effects of Ketogenic Diet and How to Cope Up with Them
Even though the ketogenic diet is quite beneficial not only in reducing weight but also in getting rid of or subsiding various diseases, it has some shortcomings linked to its adaption by increasing one food type and reducing the other. The Major problem associated with the ketogenic diet is keto flu, but it goes off within a few days. Keto flu makes you feel drained out of energy and mental stability, creates abdominal discomfort, increases hunger or appetite, makes you nauseous, disturbs sleeps and reduces the performance in exercise. For this, it is advised to have a low carbohydrate diet initially to let the body recognize fats and burns them more before the body is kept completely devoid of carbohydrates.
Ketogenic diet is known to cause mineral and water imbalance at the very start of the diet, so it is advised to incorporate adequate salts, minerals, and water in your daily diet. According to the physicians, you should consume 3000-4000 mg of sodium, 300 mg of magnesium and 1000 mg of potassium in daily diet to avoid the occurrence of side effects linked with mineral imbalance.
Supplements for Ketogenic Diet
Numerous supplements are available in the market facilitating the people who can’t keep up with the keto meals all the time and end up consuming everyday carbohydrates, thereby delaying the initiation of ketosis. Of all the available supplements, some widely used ones are:
- MCT Oil: MCT Oil is mainly added to the yogurt and drinks for the provision of instant energy and for increasing the level of ketones in the body. Its numerous varieties are available online.
- Caffeine: Caffeine, as already known, gives you an energy boost with fat loss properties and improved performance throughout the day.
- Minerals: Addition of salts and other important minerals in your diet are necessary to counteract the abrupt imbalance of these following the ketogenic diet.
- Creatine: Creatine is of much higher use for the body in terms of health and maintenance, but it is most effective when the ketogenic diet is accompanied by exercise.
- Exogenous Ketones: These are used to increase the levels of ketones in the body.
- Whey: a Half scoop of this whey protein is consumed either by adding to drinks or yogurt to provide for the daily consumption of protein in a ketogenic diet.
In actual, there is no need for any of these available supplements, but certain conditions can make you jump to them instead of avoiding the ketogenic diet completely.
A Ketogenic Diet Plan for a Week
A ketogenic schedule that could be followed throughout the week and can be repeated is listed down but it can be subjected to changes as per your body type. You can rotate veggies and type of meat for every meal.
Breakfast: eggs, tomatoes, bacon
Lunch: feta cheese and olive oil containing chicken salad
Dinner: asparagus and salmon in butter
Breakfast: omelet containing egg, goat cheese, basil and tomato
Lunch: milkshake (almond milk, cocoa powder, peanut butter, and stevia)
Dinner: vegetables, cheddar cheese, meatballs
Breakfast: Ketogenic milkshake with any ingredients
Lunch: shrimp salad along with avocado tossed in olive oil
Dinner: parmesan cheese pork chops, salad, broccoli
Breakfast: omelet having spices, onions, avocados, peppers, and salsa
Lunch: salsa and guacamole with a handful of celery sticks and nuts
Dinner: pesto and cheese stuffed chicken with vegetables
Breakfast: cocoa powder, peanut butter and stevia in sugar-free yogurt
Lunch: veggies and beef fried in coconut oil
Dinner: burger without bun having bacon, cheese and egg
Breakfast: omelet of cheese, ham, and veggies
Lunch: cheese slices, ham, nuts
Dinner: egg, white fish, spinach made in coconut oil
Breakfast: eggs fried with mushrooms, bacon
Lunch: cheese, salsa, guacamole burger
Dinner: eggs and steak with vegies