Controlling, maintaining and getting rid of at least some of our health problems is a very real dream that we all are faced with. While some diseases are easier to control or get rid of, some are more persistent. Diabetes is one such disease which is a particularly stubborn kind of disease; but at the end of the day , the most effective way to prevent and manage diabetes is eating a balanced diet that includes healthy carbohydrates and enough healthy proteins and fats.
Let us get to the first question, what is a keto diet? The ketogenic diet is a very low carb, high fat diet. 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 fats into ketones in the liver, which can supply energy to the brain. Ketogenic diets can cause significant reductions in blood sugar and insulin levels. There are several different versions of the ketogenic diet, like:
- Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD) : This is a very low-carb, moderate protein and high fat diet. It generally consists of 70% fat, 20% protein and only 10% 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.
Even though there exists more than one type of ketogenic diet, the Standard (SKD) is the most researched and the most recommended.
Now that we have looked into what keto diet is; let us find out the meaning of ketosis. Ketosis is a metabolic state in which our body uses fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates. It occurs when the consumption of carbohydrates is significantly reduced, this limits the body’s supply of glucose (sugar), which is the main source of energy for the cells. Modifying your diet and practicing intermittent fasting can help you enter ketosis faster. Certain lists and symptoms can also help determine whether you have ketosis.
There have been quite a few advantages of following a ketogenic diet. Let us explore these advantages. It is said that the ketogenic diet is an effective way to lose weight and lower the risk factors of various diseases. In fact, research suggests that the ketogenic diet may be as effective for weight loss as a low fat diet. One review of 13 studies found that following a very low-carb ketogenic diet was slightly more effective for long term weight loss than a low fat diet. People who followed the keto diet lost an average of 2 pounds (0.9 kg) more than the group that followed a low-fat diet.
The increased ketones was also related to lowering the blood sugar levels. One older study found that the ketogenic diet improved insulin sensitivity by a whopping 75%. A small study in women with type 2 diabetes also found that following a ketogenic diet for 90 days significantly reduced levels of hemoglobin A1C, which is a measure of long-term blood sugar management.
Studies have shown that the diet can have benefits for a wide variety of different health conditions:
- Heart Disease – The ketogenic diet can help improve risk factors like body fat, HDL (good) cholesterol levels, blood pressure and blood sugar.
- Cancer – The diet is currently being explored as an additional treatment for cancer, because it may help slow tumor growth.
- Alzheimer’s Disease – The keto diet may help reduce symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and slow it’s progression.
- Epilepsy – Research has shown that ketogenic diet can cause significant reduction in seizures in epileptic children.
- Parkinson’s Disease – Although more research is needed, one study found that the diet helped improve symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome – The ketogenic diet can help reduce insulin levels, which may play a key role in polycystic ovary syndrome.
- Brain Injuries – Some research suggests that the diet could improve outcomes of traumatic brain injury.
In a ketogenic diet many foods have to be excluded while many foods need to be included. We need to strike a balance between the two. Carb-based foods like grains, sugars, legumes, rice, potatoes, candy, juice and even most fruits are to be avoided. Basing the majority of your diet on foods such as meat, fish, eggs, butter, nuts, healthy oils, avocados, and plenty of low carb veggies.
We have been learning so many things regarding the keto diet. But like everything there are some side effects to the keto diet as well. Even though the ketogenic diet is usually safe for most healthy people, there may be some initial side effects while our body adapts.
There is some anecdotal evidence of these effects often referred to as the keto flu, based on reports, it’s usually over within a few days. Reported keto flu symptoms include diarrhea, constipation and vomiting. Other less common symptoms can be:
- Poor energy and mental function
- Increased hunger
- Sleep issues
- Digestive discomfort
- Decrease exercise performance.
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 may help. Talk to your doctor and dietician about the nutritional needs. Staying on the keto diet in the long term may have some negative effects, including risks of the following:
- Low protein in the blood
- Extra fat in the liver
- Kidney stones
- Micronutrient deficiencies.
A type of medicine called Sodium-Glucose Cotransporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors for type 2 diabetes can increase the risk of Diabetic ketoacidosis, a dangerous condition that increases blood acidity. Anyone taking this medication should avoid this diet.
Even though the keto diet has many benefits, it also has a few disadvantages associated with it. A Doctor’s consult and a Dietician consult is always recommended.
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