What is Keto Diet?
Some background information: the ketogenic diet’s origin dates back to the 1920s when doctors used it to control seizures among epileptic patients. It actually began with a nutritional plan which consisted of carbohydrates (carbs), fat, and protein, making the body use fat instead of carbohydrates for energy. The diet process creates two acids in the blood: ketones and decanoic acid, used by the brain and body as fuel.
The aforementioned acids reduce the prevalence of seizures when the process is followed by the supervision of a dietician and an epilepsy specialist.
This diet also combats:
- Infantile spasms
- Tuberous sclerosis
- Myoclonic-astatic epilepsy
- Dravet syndrome
A keto or ketogenic diet is a low-carb diet, one which can enhance the burning of fat. It’s also been tested and trusted for weight loss, better health, and performance. The idea of “keto” stems from the fact that it enables the body produce some amount of fuel molecules called “ketones”. This serves as an alternative fuel source for the body one used when blood sugar (glucose) is in short supply.
Ketones are produced if one eats few carbs, that is, carbs that are quickly broken down into blood sugar, and only moderate amounts of protein, as excess protein can also be converted to blood sugar.
The liver produces ketones from fat. These ketones serve as a fuel source throughout the body, the brain in particular. You may be wondering why. Well, it’s simply because the brain consumes so much energy, hence it can’t run on fat directly. Why then can it run in? Glucose or ketones.
Sounds interesting? Let’s go on…
On a ketogenic diet, the entire body switches its fuel supply to run mostly on fat, burning fat all through. A reduction in insulin levels leads to drastic burning of fat, then it gets easier to burn them the fat stores. All of this is great for weight loss, a steady energy supply, and alertness.
When the body produces ketones, it switches to a metabolic state called “ketosis”. Thus state is best reached by fasting, but hey, for how long can one fast? However, a keto diet can be maintained forever, and it results in ketosis. An guess what, It has most of the benefits of fasting.
You would agree with me that this article is tilting towards what you desire, and of course, you will get much more than you desire. Before we talk more in what a keto diet is, we will discuss what a keto diet is not. I mean, let’s debunk some myths already!
Debunking Keto Diet Myths!
Keto Is Only For Weight Loss
Of course, the ketogenic diet is effective for weight loss and fat burning, however, if weight loss is not one of your goals, you may follow the diet and maintain your weight or even gain more. Sounds funny that you can gain weight on a keto diet? Yes, if you aren’t in ketosis, or you don’t follow the diet correctly.
So what else is the keto diet for, asides weight loss?
- Improving digestive health
- Regulating hormone production
- Reducing the risk of having certain diseases and disorders such as heart disease or diabetes.
- Normalizing blood sugar
- Improving cognitive functioning
Keto is a High-Fat, High-Protein Diet
Protein intake must be moderate while on the keto diet because it aids the transition into ketosis and helps one remain there. Excess protein in a diet results in the conversion of some of the protein to glucose (or sugar) once consumed, and of course, this is entirely against the idea of a keto diet.
So you may be wondering, “How much protein is required in a keto diet?” Here’s a recommendation for nutrient intake: 75% of daily calories from sources of fat such as oils and fatty parts of meats, 5% from carbohydrates, and 20% from protein.
No Exercises When on Keto
Absolutely no one is left out on the benefits of exercising. It is just normal to feel less energized during workouts in the initial stage of being in keto, however be sure that your body will adjust.
Consuming adequate levels of calories and lots of fat can be helpful for workouts while on a keto diet.
Intermittent Fasting is a Must on Keto
Intermittent fasting (IMF), undoubtedly, is beneficial during the keto diet as it may help accelerate detoxification and weight loss, however, it’s not a requirement to achieve or maintain ketosis.
You Can’t Drink Any Alcohol on Keto
A focus in keto is to keep alcohol intake low or moderate. Drinks such as sweetened mix drinks and most beers that are high in sugar and carbs are not good choices while on a keto diet.
It’s safe to study how alcohol affects you, checking its effect on your blood sugar levels. If your blood sugar rises too much, staying in ketosis becomes difficult.
The Keto Flu is Terrible
There are various individual reactions to the ketogenic diet, hence it is uneasy to categorically state the sides effects anyone would experience, how severe such side effects would be, or how long they would last. People react differently, really. Fatigue, digestive issues, sleep-related problems, brain fog, or some other reactions may be experienced. This reaction stage is generally referred to as “the keto flu”. A regular consumption of water, fiber, salt, potassium and magnesium from vegetables can be helpful to find some comfort during this phase.
You Will Always Have Low Energy on Keto
A number of people get to realize that when they adjust to being in ketosis, their energy and concentration actually increases. So yes, initially, energy might be lower than normal initially, but it changes. Ketones are fantastic at providing the brain with a steady fuel source, so it’s not strange to experience heightened focus, more mental clarity, and better moods once you’re on the keto diet.
Stay on Keto Only For Short Periods of Time
At your first attempt on a keto diet, it’s recommended that you follow the diet for about 2–3 months, then take a break. Yes, you need the break. And that’s the short period people try to refer to. This period gives your body some weeks to adjust. After the break, yoummaybthen get back into the diet. You may do this at intervals, and watch your body react.
Keto is The Same For Men And Women
Women are generally more sensitive to effects of dietary changes, as compared to men. Women can consistently follow the keto diet without complications, however they need to be more careful. It is recommended that they consume an alkaline diet in addition to a keto diet, which means they should include lots of non-starchy vegetables to ensure they obtain adequate electrolytes and nutrients. The diet should be taken in steps: the alkaline diet coming first, then the keto.
It is also advised that women reduce stress in as many ways as possible because stress can cause hormonal changes which may make ketosis uneasy to withstand. The impact of exercise on energy and moods should also be studied. What else? Sleep, sunlight exposure, environmental toxicity, alcohol and caffeine intake should all be given attention, as regards their effects on the health. Necessary adjustments should be made to ensure the keto diet is favourable.
7 Great Foods to Eat When on a Keto Diet
Note that the carbs in different types of shellfish vary. Shrimps for instance contain no carbs, while some other types of shellfish do.
Let’s see the carb counts for 3.5-ounce (100-gram) servings of some types of shellfish.
- Squid: 3 grams
- Octopus: 4 grams
- Oysters: 4 grams
- Clams: 5 grams
- Mussels: 7 grams
Salmon, sardines, mackerel and other fatty fish are high in omega-3 fats, and these contain lower insulin levels and increase insulin sensitivity in overweight and obese people.
What’s more? A consistent intake of fish intake results in decreased risk of disease and improves mental health.
Are you planning to embark on a keto diet? Try to consume at least two servings of seafood weekly.
Cheese comes in hundreds of varieties. And guess what, all the varieties are low in carbs and high in fat. What else do you need for a ketogenic diet?
An ounce (28 grams) of cheddar cheese provides 1 gram of carbs, 7 grams of protein and 20% of the RDI for calcium.
Did you know that cheese contains conjugated linoleic acid? This is a fat that has been linked to fat loss and improvements in body composition.
A regular consumption of cheese also reduces the loss of muscle mass and strength that occurs with aging.
Avocados are bursting with loads of health benefits. A medium avocado contains 9 grams of carbs. They’ve also got several vitamins and minerals.
They also improve cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Meat and Poultry
These are staple foods on a ketogenic diet.
Fresh meat and poultry are rich in B vitamins and several minerals such as selenium, potassium, and zinc. They are also carb-free.
What’s more? They’re a great source of protein, hence they preserve muscle mass during a low-carb diet.
If you can, choose grass-fed meat. This is because animals that eat grass produce meat with higher amounts of conjugated linoleic acid, omega-3 fats, and antioxidants than meat from grain-fed animals.
Non-starchy vegetables are low in calories and carbs, and high in a number of nutrients such as vitamin C and various minerals.
Vegetables and other plants contain fiber which the body doesn’t absorb like other carbs.
So you may need to consider their digestible (or net) carb count, which is total carbs minus fiber.
Note, however, that consuming a serving of starchy vegetables like potatoes, yams or beets could get you to exceed your daily limit of carb intake.
Eating the entire egg is key, as most of an egg’s nutrients are found in the yolk.
Coconut oil contains properties that make it ideal for a ketogenic diet. One of these is the medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). Unlike long-chain fats, MCTs are taken up directly by the liver and converted into ketones or used as a rapid source of energy.
Coconut oil has, for a long time, been used to increase ketone levels in people with Alzheimer’s disease and other disorders of the brain and nervous system.
Lauric acid, a component of coconut oil, together with MCTs, help ensure a sustained level of ketosis
Coconut oil may also help obese adults lose weight and belly fat.
8 Signs That Show You’re in Ketosis
While on a ketogenic diet, the body undergoes some biological adaptations, including a reduction in insulin levels and increased fat breakdown. As a result, the liver produces high number of ketones to supply energy to the brain.
But knowing you’re in ketosis may be uneasy. So let’s discuss the signs.
People often experience bad breath once they reach full ketosis. It’s a common side effect, and it is caused by elevated ketone levels. Acetone, a ketone that exits the body through urine and breath is particularly responsible for this.
Brushing often and chewing sugar-free gum may be found helpful. Be careful to avoid carbs in gums.
A rapid weight loss may occur during the first week, as a result of stored carbs and water being used up. After the initial rapid drop in water weight, a continued loss of body fat would be noticed, as long as the diet is followed consistently.
Increased Ketones in the Blood
One of the signs of a ketogenic diet is a reduction in blood sugar levels and an increase in ketones. Some levels of consistency into the ketogenic diet gets you to burn some fat, and ketones get to be the main fuel source.
A specialized meter can be used to measure blood ketone levels. This is done by calculating the amount of beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) in the blood. BHB is one of the primary ketones present in the bloodstream.
Decreased hunger is a sign of entering ketosis. This may be due to increased protein and vegetable intake. The keto diet actually alters hunger hormones.
Loss of minerals at the entry phase of the keto diet can cause muscle cramps, especially leg cramps. Regular consumption of water may be helpful here.
During the early days of a keto diet, the “ketosis flu” or “induction flu” may be unavoidable due to changes in the body system. So be ready for headaches, tiredness, brain fog, or irritability.
In the first few weeks of eating low carb, a slight increase in heart rate may be noticed. This is more common in those who have low blood pressure.
Why does it happen? It’s due to inadequate salt and water, causing a reduction in the fluid circulating in the blood. This then causes the heart to pump slightly faster or harder. So drink more water and salt your foods!
Low serotonin and insulin levels could cause sleep issues while on a keto diet. If you experience this, try having a snack shortly before bedtime. You may also consume some carbs to increase insulin and give your brain a good dose of tryptophan.
Another possible reason for disturbances with sleep could be increased intake of foods rich in histamines, and these foods can cause anxiety and sleeplessness in some people. You may try consuming less avocado, bacon, cheeses, and eggs, which contain a lot of histamines and replace them with more vegetables.
Now that you Know…
Are you ready to begin your keto diet? Or are you on it already and you’ve got some clarification? Whichever the situation is, we believe you’ve got all the information you need for a smooth ride through this diet. Do share your experience.