The Ketogenic Diet: Is it an Effective Diet Program?
Health and wellness is one thing that every individual tries to achieve or maintain. As much as supplements and workouts are great, there is also a need for you to implement a good diet plan. One of the uncommon diet plans in the past was high-fat diets. However, they have recently made a comeback and have proved to be effective. A ketogenic diet is one of the diets that involves the consumption of high-fat and low-carb meals. This article offers a detailed overview of the ketogenic diet and what beginners need to know.
What’s a Keto Diet?
A Ketogenic diet, popularly known as the Keto Diet, involves the consumption of foods with low amounts of carbohydrates. The low-carb intake is usually replaced with a higher intake of fat as well as moderate amounts of protein. When you introduce your body to a ketogenic diet, it will end up in a metabolic state that is known as ketosis. During this phase, the body becomes extremely effective in converting fat to energy. Additionally, the brain becomes more alert thanks to the increased levels of ketones which supply it with energy.
Types of Ketogenic Diet
Keto is a general term that is used to describe diet plans which consist of low-carb foods. However, there are various versions of the keto diet and they all consist of different amounts of carbs, protein and fat.
- The targeted keto diet: It’s a low-carb diet that allows users to add carbohydrates around their workouts.
- Cyclical keto diet: It’s a diet plan that involves various cycles of low-carb and high-carb meals. For instance, users may be required to take low-carb meals for 5 days and then high-carb meals for 2 days.
- Protein-rich keto diet: It involves the consumption of foods with more protein. Your diet should contain at least 35 percent protein, 5 percent of carbs and 60 percent fat.
- The standard keto diet: It is the most popular and involves a diet that consists of 5 percent carbs, around 20 percent for protein, and the remaining fat.
The Keto Diet Meal Plan
The keto diet plan has a wide range of foods. Users have unlimited choices. However, your diet should be mainly be composed of single-ingredient whole foods.
This diet plan involves the consumption of low amounts of carbs. Users are required to minimize their daily carb intake as much as they can. Overall, you are required to less than 50g of carbs per day. Even though this looks challenging, a lot of people have done it and it has proved to be effective.
The keto diet food list comprises of:
These are incredibly nutritious and healthy fruits. A medium-sized avocado has around 9g of carbohydrates but almost 7g of it consist of fiber. These fruits are rich in minerals including potassium which facilitates the body’s transition into ketosis. Additionally, avocados have the ability to reduce high levels of triglycerides and cholesterol in the blood.
It has unique structural properties which make it effective for the keto diet. Coconut oil’s structural nature consists of MCTs which are usually absorbed by the liver directly. While they are here, there are used as sources of natural energy and also converted into ketones. Research shows that this oil has the ability to enhance the number of ketone levels in the body, especially in people who have Alzheimer’s disease. The main structural component in coconut oil which promotes ketosis is lauric acid.
Butter and Cream
This combination consists of only good fats. Each one of them consists of trace amounts of carbs for each serving. Previously, there was a popular misconception which states that cream and butter have harmful fats which significantly contributed to heart diseases. They contain high amounts of saturated fats which were thought to increase the risk of heart diseases. However, medical reports show that there is no direct relationship between heart disease and saturated fats. Cream and butter contain linoleic acid – a type of fatty acid which promotes the metabolism of fat and leads to ketosis.
Nuts and Seeds
Any healthy diet should be composed of nuts and seeds. They are low-carb types of foods which have high amounts of healthy fats. Nuts and seeds have high fiber content which promotes satiety and leads to an overall reduction of carb intake.
The keto diet menu consists of seeds and fruits such as:
- Brazil nuts
- Macadamia nuts
- Cashew nuts
- Chia seeds
- Sesame and pumpkin seeds
Meat and Poultry
These two types of food are among the staples which make the keto diet. Fresh poultry and meat cuts don’t have carbs but they are rich in minerals such as potassium which is known to be effective in promoting ketosis. They also have high amounts of protein for the preservation of lean mass during weight loss.
Note: when you are choosing meat for a ketogenic diet, ensure that it’s grass-fed. This is because it normally contains high levels of omega-3s, antioxidants, as well as conjugated linoleic acid.
Vegetables which lack starch contain low amounts of carbs and calories. However, they have a higher nutrition value in addition to vitamins and minerals. Additionally, they are rich in fiber which is essential for the digestion process.
Some of the vegetables that are suitable for keto diet recipes include:
- Brussel sprouts
Note: you can add vegetables which have low amounts of starch in your diet e.g. beets, yams, or potatoes.
Cottage Cheese and Plain Greek Yogurt
Using the keto diet doesn’t mean that your life should be devoid of snacks. Cottage cheese or plain Greek yogurt are protein-rich foods which are healthy and suitable for the keto lifestyle. They have the ability to reduce food cravings, thereby minimizing your intake of carbs. You can take either as a snack or consume it in combination with cinnamon or chopped nuts.
Unsweetened Tea or Coffee
While you are in the keto diet, your life needs to be as normal as it was before. The only thing that should change is the amount of carb intake. All your regular meals need to remain the same. So, if you want to take coffee or tea, ensure that it is unsweetened. Avoid all the lattes but you can add heavy cream.
Seafoods are also examples of keto-friendly foods. Seafood such as shellfish and salmon are all rich in vitamins as well as selenium and potassium minerals. Although they lack carbs, some of them have healthy fats which promote ketosis.
Some of the seafood that are suitable for a keto diet include:
Mackerel, sardines plus salmons have high amounts of omega-3s which are vital for increasing insulin sensitivity and dropping high amounts of blood insulin.
Beginners Guide on Keto Diet
For beginners, a ketogenic diet isn’t easy to start. Taking the radical step to leave your normal diet especially processed foods which have high carbs requires preparation. But how can you effectively prepare yourself mentally and stock your fridge?
Know the Food that You Should Stock
Your fridge should have almost 90 percent of the above-mentioned types of food. This will allow you to come up with a recipe that contains your favorite meals. Not all vegetables and fruits are appropriate and most of them contain carbs. Understands that meats and pure fats don’t have carbs.
Understand Your Body’s Relationship with Fat
This diet plan involves the consumption of lots of fat. Most people avoid diet programs which have lots of fat because there are afraid high blood cholesterol. Note that a high-fat diet can be uncomfortable initially. However, you can start by making little adjustments each passing day. For instance, instead of eating rice or potatoes, try a non-starchy vegetable. Additionally, try to use more oil when cooking. As time goes by, eliminate as much carb as you can and replace it with more fat.
Can You Drink “Bulletproof Coffee?”
Starting a keto diet doesn’t mean that you should skip meals. However, you need to keenly analyze what you are eating and drinking. A “bulletproof” coffee consists of butter and coconut oil. This drink has a satiating effect and it helps to reduce food cravings.
Perfect Your Cooking Skills
There are numerous keto diet websites which you can use to improve your cooking skills. There are also ketogenic cookbooks which contain numerous keto-friendly recipes. Find around ten recipes that you like and then make it your mission to try them out.
Inform Your Family Members and Friends
Once you have decided to take this wellness path, it’s important that you inform your family members and close friends. This is because you may not be in a position to consume whatever they are eating during normal meal times. Prepare them in advance so that they can embrace your new eating habits. Don’t forget to tell them that this is only temporary. This is because a diet plan program usually lasts for 3-6 months.
Be Aware of the Possible Side Effects
Introducing the body to a state of ketosis usually leads to weight loss. However, one significant side effect that you should be prepared to face is the Keto Flu. This condition usually happens when the body is adjusting from using glucose to fat as its main source of energy. It normally occurs during the first week but may extend up to 10 days. You may feel extremely fatigued and walking around, especially upstairs may be challenging. Additionally, some people may end up with mental fog. If you have crazy deadlines or you have so many obligations, pick a later date to start because you will need more time to rest.
Increase your Electrolytes to Reduce Chances of Side Effects
Because the keto diet has unpleasant side effects, you need to increase your electrolyte intake to mitigate them. During ketosis, the kidneys tend to excrete electrolytes. Take salted broths, consume more non-starchy veggies, and ensure your food has enough salt so that you can replenish the lost potassium and sodium minerals.
Create an After Plan
You are not going to be on keto diet forever so it’s only sensible that you create an after-plan. This is a short-term diet plan program which can help to attain your weight loss goals. Its main aim should be to help you to change your feeding patterns. So, create an after-plan that you will use once you are done with the keto diet.
Keto Diet Results
Most people who use this diet plan, usually end up losing weight and develop other health benefits. However, it is still very possible to boost the results. You can effectively ramp up the results so that you can burn fat faster, lose more weight, and even feel so much better. You can accelerate keto’s effectiveness by:
This helps to enhance the weight loss process. Intermittent fasting is one of the powerful ways which you can assist your body to produce more ketones. You can do it by eating your food between 6-8 hours and avoiding meals for the remaining hours.
Cyclical Keto Diet
This is a process that involves cycling of carbs. The standard keto diet plan requires you to eat fewer carbs. However, this may not be effective for some people and they may end up experiencing fatigue, insomnia, mental fog, thyroid issues among others. A cyclical keto diet will help you to attain better results because you are allowed to eat more carbs once or twice weekly. These days are known as the re-feed days.
Health Benefits of Keto Diet
Keto diet offers the same benefits which other low-carb diet plans offer. However, results show that it’s actually more powerful compared to the liberal diets which advocate for the consumption of foods with low carbohydrates.
Some of its outstanding benefits include:
This is a great appetite controller that also helps the body to burn more fat. The high amount of protein that the dieter is supposed to consume help to reduce constant hunger pangs. This will force you to eat less.
Reduced Digestive Issues
A keto diet can significantly reduce digestive problems. It calms the stomach and reduces the possibility of gassing. People who have irritable bowel syndrome have reported improvements after going keto.
This is actually one of the main reasons why people go keto. This diet plan has the ability to accelerate weight loss by increasing the metabolism of fat. Besides that, keto reduces food cravings, leading to minimal calorie intake.
The main symptoms of diabetes include metabolism changes, impaired function of insulin, and high blood sugar. By aiding weight loss, it helps to reduce the side effects of diabetes type 2 and the metabolic syndrome. It’s also known to be effective in treating prediabetes. Studies have shown that a keto diet can increase the body’s level of insulin sensitivity by almost 75 percent.
Note: if you are diabetic, do not use a keto diet if you haven’t consulted with your doctor first.
Other benefits of the ketogenic diet:
Generally, this diet helps to improve health and wellness. It is used to treat a wide range of diseases which include:
- Alzheimer’s disease: Keto diet reduces the progress of Alzheimer’s and helps to improve memory.
- Heart disease: By reducing the amount of body fat, blood sugar, blood pressure, and bad cholesterol, this diet can easily minimize the risk of heart diseases.
- Parkinson’s disease: Studies have shown that low-carb diets such as the ketogenic diet have the ability to reduce the symptoms of heart disease.
- Cancer: Some research reports indicate the keto diet has the ability to slow down the spread of cancer cells. However, there is still ongoing research about this.
Side Effects of Keto Diet
This diet is considered safe for healthy people. However, it causes drastic changes in the body which can result in serious side effects. Keto diet usually results in keto flu, a condition whereby you might experience nausea, insomnia, increased hunger pangs, fatigue, or digestive problems. However, you can effectively minimize these side effects by slowing introducing your body to the low-carb diet. This way, your body will gradually learn how to burn fat and thereafter you can eliminate a huge percentage of carbs. Take lots of water as well as mineral supplements so as to balance the electrolytes in your body. Besides that, ensure that your meals have adequate amounts of salt.
The keto diet is great but not suitable for everyone. It is ideal for those people who want to improve their general metabolic health i.e. diabetics, obese persons, etc. Additionally, it can be used by elite athletes who want to lose weight and gain lean muscles instead. But just like any other diet, the effectiveness of a keto diet heavily depends on the user’s consistency. You need to use it alongside a good workout plan if you want to lose weight.