You may have heard the term keto diet quite often recently. Like a gluten free diet or veganism, keto diet seems to be the latest health-conscious trend.
A ketogenic diet is a low-carb diet as well as a high-fat diet. It helps burn body fat, help in weight loss and is also great for reducing blood sugar levels. It can be incredibly potent if followed with discipline.
Various studies have shown a keto diet can also increase energy levels and improve physical performance.
What exactly is a ketogenic diet?
The word keto is derived from the word "ketones". Ketones or ketone bodies are small fuel molecules produced by the brain.
Our body primarily uses glucose or blood sugar to give us energy. When glucose is in short supply, our body uses ketones as an energy source. Ketone bodies are produced from body fat.
Carbohydrates and proteins are mainly responsible for producing blood sugar in the body. Reducing carb intake and protein intake will leave the body no option but to burn body fat and produce ketone bodies.
This is the best way to increase ketone levels. It helps massively in keeping your body weight in check. Saturated fats are limited and healthy fats are increased.
Benefits of a keto diet?
The biggest benefits of a keto diet are weight loss and lower insulin levels. While following the fat-high diet you will notice your lack of hunger through the day.
Increased energy levels, as well as lower insulin levels, will lead to reduced hunger through the day. This helps in intermittent fasting as well. Lower cholesterol levels are another benefit of the ketogenic diet.
Since your body relies highly on fat as an energy source, a lot of body fat is burned. A decrease in body fat percentage has many health benefits. It is important for lower risk of heart disease. Lower blood pressure is another benefit of a low-carb diet.
A ketogenic diet fights type 2 diabetes very aggressively. Lower insulin levels, body weight and lower blood sugar are all major contributing factors to type 2 diabetes. It has also been found to help with epilepsy and polycystic ovary syndrome.
Foods that assist your keto diet
These are some of the best foods if you are looking for a complete ketogenic diet!
- Meat: Chicken, bacon, red meat, fatty fish (baked salmon, tuna, trout) and other meat that is fat heavy. These meats contain very healthy fats and won't increase the total carbs you consume a lot.
- Dairy products: Unprocessed cheese is high in fat content and low in carbs. Mozzarella and cheddar cheese or cottage cheese are great for a high fat-diet. Sour cream, heavy cream and high-fat yogurt is great as well. Dairy products, in general, have a lot of healthy fats.
- Olives and avocados: Olives are rich in omega 3 and avocados are very rich in fatty acids.
- Nuts and seeds: Nuts like almonds and walnuts should be an important part of your meal plan. Flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds etc are rich in fatty acid and won't increase your carb intake.
- Oils: Oils like extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil and coconut oil are very rich in healthy fats. Coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil are perfect for low-carb diets.
- Low- carb vegetables: Look to incorporate veggies like tomatoes, onions, brussels sprouts and other veggies that don't increase your protein intake or your carb intake. Leafy greens are that contain healthy fats are great as well. Leafy greens contain important vitamins like vitamin A and vitamin K as well that have many health benefits.
Food that you should avoid:
- Grains: Try to avoid grains like wheat, rice, cereal, whole grains etc as they will increase your carb intake and your calorie intake.
- Sugary foods: Honey, maple syrups, soda, ice cream and other sugars. Added sugar will adversely affect your insulin levels. Artificial sweeteners can help your sugary cravings if you have a sweet tooth.
- Fruit: Apples, bananas, mangoes, bananas, dried fruits, etc
- Root vegetables: Potatoes, carrots, parsnips and other high carb vegetables. Saturated fats should not be part of your meal plan.
- Processed foods: Look to avoid processed foods as much as possible. They contain added sugar which is bad for your blood sugar levels. They usually tend to increase cholesterol levels as well.
Possible side effects
With a drastic change in your diet, there may be some side effects in the beginning. While your body is adjusting to it's new metabolic state and electrolyte changes, you will encounter some difficulties.
Poor energy levels are common. Sleep issues, nausea, brain fog and decreased physical activity are common side effects as well. Keto breath is a very common side effect. Your breath may start to smell like nail polish or nail polish remover. This will pass in a few days. Try to make sure you are drinking plenty of water.
While you're on a keto diet, water weight makes up a lot of your body weight. Look at mineral supplements and multivitamin supplements if necessary. A lack of mineral intake can be a major factor as well. Low-carb diets usually take a significant period of time for your body to get used to, so don't be too alarmed. Muscle loss is also a short term side effect because of carb withdrawal.
Carbs in a small amount at the beginning may be a good solution until you start seeing better results.