Our fat-obsessed culture has made fat an enemy to be conquered. But when it comes down to it, at its base level, fat is your body’s friend.
Your body requires a certain amount of fat to function correctly. So before we get to the attack on fat, let’s clear the air and talk about the positive side of fat.
What fat does for your body:
As you can see, when things are working properly, fat is an essential component of a healthy body. The problems come if we have an imbalance in our metabolism, dietary intake, exercise habits, or hormones.
The human body does not usually generate new fat cells after puberty. When your body stores additional fat, the number of fat cells remains the same; they just get bigger!
A majority of Americans don’t have weight problems that would affect their health. But if you are one of the 75% of Americans that are obese, then you need to take action. People who are obese have an excess of adipose tissue (fat).
Doctors generally proclaim that a person is obese when their body weight is 20% higher than it should be.
Being obese severely impacts your health, so taking measures to avoid obesity is paramount. The good news is that there is a remedy for this.
The ketogenic diet (or keto diet, for short) is a low-carb, high-fat diet that offers many health benefits. In fact, over 20 studies show that this type of diet can help you lose weight and improve your health. Ketogenic diets may even have benefits against diabetes, cancer, epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease.
Here is a detailed beginner’s guide to the keto diet.
The ketogenic diet is a very low-carb, high-fat diet that shares many similarities with the Atkins and low-carb diets. It involves drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat. This reduction in carbs puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis.
When this happens, your body becomes incredibly efficient at burning fat for energy. It also turns fat into ketones in the liver, which can supply energy for the brain.
Ketogenic diets can cause massive reductions in blood sugar and insulin levels. This, along with the increased ketones, has numerous health benefits
There are several versions of the ketogenic diet, including:
Standard ketogenic diet (SKD): This is a very low-carb, moderate-protein and high-fat diet. It typically contains 75% fat, 20% protein and only 5% carbs
Cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD): This diet involves periods of higher-carb refeeds, such as 5 ketogenic days followed by 2 high-carb days.
Targeted ketogenic diet (TKD): This diet allows you to add carbs around workouts.
High-protein ketogenic diet: This is similar to a standard ketogenic diet, but includes more protein. The ratio is often 60% fat, 35% protein and 5% carbs.
However, only the standard and high-protein ketogenic diets have been studied extensively. Cyclical or targeted ketogenic diets are more advanced methods and primarily used by bodybuilders or athletes.
The information in this article mostly applies to the standard ketogenic diet (SKD), although many of the same principles also apply to the other versions.
A ketogenic diet is an effective way to lose weight and lower risk factors for disease. In fact, research shows that the ketogenic diet is far superior to the often recommended low-fat diet.
What’s more, the diet is so filling that you can lose weight without counting calories or tracking your food intake.
One study found that people on a ketogenic diet lost 2.2 times more weight than those on a calorie-restricted low-fat diet. Triglyceride and HDL cholesterol levels also improved.
Another study found that people on the ketogenic diet lost 3 times more weight than those on the diet recommended by Diabetes UK.
There are several reasons why a ketogenic diet is superior to a low-fat diet, including the increased protein intake, which provides numerous benefits.
The increased ketones, lower blood sugar levels and improved insulin sensitivity may also play a key role.
Diabetes is characterized by changes in metabolism, high blood sugar and impaired insulin function.
The ketogenic diet can help you lose excess fat, which is closely linked to type 2 diabetes, prediabetes and metabolic syndrome
One study found that the ketogenic diet improved insulin sensitivity by a whopping 75%
Another study in people with type 2 diabetes found that 7 of the 21 participants were able to stop using all diabetes medications
In yet another study, the ketogenic group lost 24.4 pounds (11.1 kg), compared to 15.2 pounds (6.9 kg) in the higher-carb group. This is an important benefit when considering the link between weight and type 2 diabetes
Additionally, 95.2% of the ketogenic group were also able to stop or reduce diabetes medication, compared to 62% in the higher-carb group
The ketogenic diet actually originated as a tool for treating neurological diseases such as epilepsy.
Studies have now shown that the diet can have benefits for a wide variety of different health conditions:
However, keep in mind that research into many of these areas is far from conclusive.
Any food that is high in carbs should be limited.
Here is a list of foods that need to be reduced or eliminated on a ketogenic diet:
You should base the majority of your meals around these foods:
It is best to base your diet mostly on whole, single-ingredient foods.
Eating fewer carbs can have impressive health benefits and doesn’t have to be complicated.
Most low-carbs foods are healthy, nutritious and incredibly delicious.
What’s more, they’re highly diverse, covering many major food categories, including meats, fish, vegetables, fruits, dairy products and many more.
A healthy, low-carb diet based on real foods can help you lose weight and improve your health.
In case you get hungry between meals, here are some healthy, keto-approved snacks:
Many restaurant meals can be made keto-friendly.
Most restaurants offer some kind of meat or fish-based dish. Order this, and replace any high-carb food with extra vegetables.
Egg-based meals are also a great option, such as an omelette or eggs and bacon.
Another favourite is bun-less burgers. You could also swap the fries for vegetables instead. Add extra avocado, cheese, bacon or eggs.
At Mexican restaurants, you can enjoy any type of meat with extra cheese, guacamole, salsa and sour cream.
For dessert, ask for a mixed cheese board or berries with cream.
Although the ketogenic diet is safe for healthy people, there may be some initial side effects while your body adapts.
This is often referred to as the keto flu and is usually over within a few days.
Keto flu includes poor energy and mental function, increased hunger, sleep issues, nausea, digestive discomfort and decreased exercise performance.
To minimize this, you can try a regular low-carb diet for the first few weeks. This may teach your body to burn more fat before you completely eliminate carbs.
A ketogenic diet can also change the water and mineral balance of your body, so adding extra salt to your meals or taking mineral supplements can help.
For minerals, try taking 1000 mg of potassium and 300 mg of magnesium per day to minimize side effects.
At least in the beginning, it is important to eat until you’re full and avoid restricting calories too much. Usually, a ketogenic diet causes weight loss without intentional calorie restriction.
Although no supplements are required, some can be useful.
Here are answers to some of the most common questions about the ketogenic diet.
1. Can I ever eat carbs again?
Yes. However, it is important to significantly reduce your carb intake initially. After the first 2–3 months, you can eat carbs on special occasions — just return to the diet immediately after.
2. Will I lose muscle?
There is a risk of losing some muscle on any diet. However, the high protein intake and high ketone levels may help minimize muscle loss, especially if you lift weights.
3. Can I build muscle on a ketogenic diet?
Yes, but it may not work as well as on a moderate-carb diet.
4. Do I need to refeed or carb load?
No. However, a few higher-calorie days may be beneficial every now and then.
5. How much protein can I eat?
Protein should be moderate, as a very high intake can spike insulin levels and lower ketones. Around 35% of the total calorie intake is probably the upper limit.
6. What if I am constantly tired, weak or fatigued?
You may not be in full ketosis or be utilizing fats and ketones efficiently. To counter this, lower your carb intake and re-visit the points above. A supplement like MCT oil or ketones may also help.
7. My urine smells fruity. Why is this?
Don’t be alarmed. This is simply due to the excretion of by-products created during ketosis.
8. My breath smells. What can I do?
This is a common side effect. Try drinking naturally flavoured water or chewing sugar-free gum.
9. I heard ketosis was extremely dangerous. Is this true?
People often confuse ketosis with ketoacidosis. The former is natural, while the latter only occurs in uncontrolled diabetes.
Ketoacidosis is dangerous, but the ketosis on a ketogenic diet is perfectly normal and healthy.
10. I have digestion issues and diarrhoea. What can I do?
This common side effect usually passes after 3–4 weeks. If it persists, try eating more high-fibre veggies. Magnesium supplements can also help with constipation.
A ketogenic diet can be great for people who are overweight, diabetic or looking to improve their metabolic health.
It may be less suitable for elite athletes or those wishing to add large amounts of muscle or weight.
Today you can put an end to the frustrations you have experienced in the past. Keto works. The evidence and testimonies are all over the internet. This diet speaks for its self.No matter how mainstream medicine tries to cover the truth about keto, more and more results are produced each day.
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