Ketogenic diet

Ketogenic Diet: What You Need To Know

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KETO DIET OVERVIEW

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The ketogenic diet has exploded onto the scene in recent years. Many hail it is a cure-all and others condemn it as an extremely destructive diet. But, what is the truth? In this article, we’re going to take an objective look into the ketogenic diet and its purported benefits.

The Ketogenic or “Keto” diet: It consists of a very high-fat, moderate-protein and low (almost zero) carb diet. Most commonly it is based around animal products but can just as easily be undertaken using high-fat plant-based foods. Proponents of this diet claim it has amazing health benefits such as weight loss, immunity boost, skin rejuvenation and it also helps fight many severe diseases such as Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, cancer, and diabetes. Sound too good to be true, lets take a deeper dive.

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WHAT IS THE KETO DIET?

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This diet is very similar to the Atkins diet and many other similar low-carb diets. The diet is comprised of predominantly high-fat and low carbohydrate foods.. The carbohydrate intake is reduced and replaced with foods rich in fat.

During optimal biological function, your body utilizes glucose for energy. Glucose is formed during the breakdown of carbohydrates and when deprived of Glucose, the body will begin to use up all of the stores in the muscle cells to fuel its operations.

When these too are depleted, the body will turn to an alternative method for energy release – namely fat.  When the body burns fat for fuel it releases ketones for energy, which coined the term ketosis and later the keto diet.

This reduction makes your body get into a ketosis state. this state makes your body very efficient with respect to burning fat for the production of energy. Therefore,  when your body is in a state of ketosis your body burns the fat presently stored in the body which is why many people are so vocal in their support.

Opinions differ on the state of ketosis. Many experts claim that ketosis is an extremely inefficient method for energy consumption while others claim, it is a veritable godsend for brain fuel or energy. This diet has also been purported to reduce insulin and blood sugar levels. This, apparently improves the general health of the body.

SUMMARY: The ketogenic diet places the body in an energy gathering state known as ketosis wherby it uses the bodys fat reserves for energy.  The body will place itself into a state of ketosis when it is deprived of carbohydrates for an extended period.

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TYPES OF KETOGENIC DIETS

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Types of Keto Diets

  1. High-protein keto diet- This closely resembles the standard keto diet, but the protein intake is higher. It contains 60% of fat, 35% of protein, and 5% of carbs.
  2. The targeted keto diet (TKD)- This diet involves increasing carbohydrate intake around the workouts.
  3. The cyclical keto diet (CKD)- This diet works with specific periods where the carbohydrate intake is higher. The most common carb intake schedule is five keto days, then 2 days where the carbohydrate content is high.
  4. The standard keto diet (SKD)- This diet contains high fat, moderate protein, and very low carbohydrate intake. Most of the time it involves 75% of fat, 20% of protein, and 5% of carbohydrates in the diet.

Only two diets have been extensively analyzed by experts, namely the high-protein and standard ketogenic diets. The others are very advanced and mainly used by athletes or bodybuilders.

SUMMARY: There are a number of variations on the ketogenic diet, but fundametally each one is very similar with high fat consumption being the focus of the diet.

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FOOD IN A KETO DIET

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You need to create your meal plan with the following foodstuffs in mind.

  • Meat such as beef, chicken, bacon, pork, lamb and organ meats.
  • Avocados can be turned into freshly made guacamole or eaten as whole avocados.
  • Healthy oils such as avocado oil, coconut oil, and extra virgin olive oil.
  • Seeds and nuts such as chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seed, walnuts, and almonds.
  • Cheese, primarily that which is not processed such as mozzarella, blue, cream, goat, or cheddar.
  • Cream and butter from grass fed dairy
  • Eggs such as omega-3 or pastured whole eggs.
  • Fatty fish like mackerel, tuna, trout, and salmon.
  • Condiments such as pepper, salt, and other healthy spices and herbs.
  • Low carbohydrate vegetables such as peppers, onions, tomatoes, and most green vegetables.

This is by no means the only foodstuffs you can consume on the keto diet but it gives a good idea of the types of macros you will need to get from your food.

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Food to Avoid in A Keto Diet

You need to limit any food that is rich in carbohydrates. The following foods should be reduced or eliminated from the diet, namely –

  • Diet foods that are sugar-free because their alcohol content is high and this will affect the production of ketones. They also tend to be highly processed foods.
  • Alcohol is rich in carbs, which greatly affects the ketosis process.
  • Unhealthy fats reduce the intake of processed foods such as mayonnaise and vegetable oils, among others.
  • Sauces or some condiments because they are rich in unhealthy fat and sugar.
  • Diet or low-fat products are rich in carbohydrates and are highly processed.
  • Tubers and root vegetables such as parsnips, carrots, sweet potatoes, and potatoes.
  • Legumes or beans such as chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, and peas.
  • All Fruits with the exception of strawberries and other small portion fruits.
  • Starches or grains such as cereal, pasta, rice, and wheat-based products.
  • Sugary foods such as soda, candy, ice cream, cake, smoothies, and even fruit juice.

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Health Benefits of a Keto Diet

This diet came about as a means of naturally treating neurological diseases like epilepsy. Once experts realized how beneficial it was, they noted down the following key health benefits and impacts that this diet has on the body.

  • Acne- Acne flare-ups can be triggered by excessive intake of processed and sugary foods. Therefore, reducing the intake of sugary and processed foodstuffs could aid in reducing the chances of acne flare-ups or even aid in controlling the existing flare-ups.
  • Injuries on the brain- This diet leads to the production of ketones. Ketones are used as brain fuel. An animal study showed that this diet helps with faster recovery from brain injuries. It also aids in reducing the effects of concussions.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome- This diet reduces insulin levels. This is a key factor when healing from polycystic ovary syndrome. It guarantees a faster and more effective healing process.
  • Parkinson’s disease- It improves the symptoms of the disease.
  • Epilepsy- It reduces the risk of developing seizures in children because of the ketones made in the liver for the benefit of the brain.
  • Alzheimer’s disease- This diet reduces the symptoms of this disease and slows down its progress. This means that your loved one can still retain his/her memory for a longer period in comparison to those who fail to use this diet.
  • Cancer- It slows down the development of tumors causing cancer.
  • Heart disease- Through the reduction of body fat, this diet reduces the risk of developing abnormal blood sugar levels, blood pressure levels, HDL cholesterol levels, and BMI.

Nevertheless, do note that the research conducted on the above was not conclusive. So, this is by no means an endorsement of this diet for the treatment of any of the above.

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KETO DIET IS CONTROVERSIAL

The ketogenic diet has become increasingly pervasive on a global scale. Popularised by fitness culture, the diet has now barrelled its way into mainstream society, carrying with it the promise of robust health, glowing skin and a better quality of life.

Now for most of this article, we have discussed the purported benefits of the ketogenic diet, but I would be remiss if I did not mention the controversies surrounding the diet.

KETO FLU

“Some people report that when they start ketosis, they just feel sick,” “There can sometimes be vomit, gastrointestinal distress, a lot of fatigue, and lethargy.” – Kristen Rizer RD – Houston Methodist Medical Center

LOSS OF MUSCLE MASS

Another consequence of keto-related weight changes can be a loss of muscle mass, —especially if you’re eating much more fat than protein. “You’ll lose weight, but it might actually be a lot of muscle and because muscle burns more calories than fat, that will affect your metabolism.” – Kristen Rizer RD – Houston Methodist Medical Center

INCREASED RISK OF HEART DISEASE

And so, we come to the elephant in the room. This has long been a heated topic of debate between keto evangelists and its antagonists. Many experts believe that the keto diet — in all its variants— contains far too much saturated fat and cholesterol, both of which have long been associated with increased risk of heart attack and diabetes.  Some people have even gone so far as to label the diet the “cardiologist’s nightmare”, a title not to be taken lightly.

That’s why many health experts are concerned about people on the keto diet, especially those who try it without the guidance of a doctor or nutritionist. Doctors say that high-fat diets like this one may raise cholesterol levels, and some studies suggest that they increase the risk of diabetes. Some have even called it a “cardiologist’s nightmare.”

KETOACIDOSIS

The Keto diet has often been hailed as the perfect diet for those with diabetes. Thanks to the low-carbohydrate content, it’s an excellent method for controlling blood sugar — great, right? Not so much,  Ketosis can trigger an extremely dangerous condition called ketoacidosis. This occurs when the body builds up too many ketones and causes the blood to become extremely acidic. This can results in multiple organ damage, including the liver and brain. Should it go untreated, it can be fatal.

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