Ketogenic Diet for Beginners
Unlike many types of diets that may sound like a fad with limited long-term success, the ketogenic diet has been practiced since the 1920s and is based on a fairly solid understanding of human physiology and nutrition as a science.
We’ll discuss the following points in this article:
1. What is the Keto diet or ketogenic diet?
2. What is Ketosis?
3. How does the Keto diet work?
4. Different types of Ketogenic diets
5. To whom is the Keto diet recommended?
6. Are there any health benefits of the Keto diet?
7. Side effects of the Keto diet and how you can minimize them
8. Keto – an exceptional diet, but not for everyone
This diet works for a large number of people because it targets several key aspects that underlie weight gain – here we can mention hormonal imbalances such as insulin resistance, plus high blood sugar levels and the endless cycle of “starvation” / of consuming “empty calories” that only lead to the hunger that so many young people struggle with the hope of losing weight.
So, the approach is – instead of relying on counting calories, limiting portions, exercising sometimes to the extreme, and last but not least, the enormous willpower you need, you can adopt a low carb diet. completely different in terms of weight loss and improving overall health.
Why would it work? Maybe just because it changes the very “fuel source” that the body uses to energize itself. From burning glucose to fat, keto recipes, and dietary products come with the idea of low carbohydrate content.
It’s like changing a switch – your body will be placed in a “ketosis state” (or ketosis): the moment when your body becomes more of a fat burner rather than a sugar burner.
What is the Keto diet or a Ketogenic diet?
The classic ketogenic diet is a low-carbohydrate diet plan, originally designed in the 1920s for epilepsy patients by researchers at Johns Hopkins Medical Center.
They found that fasting or avoiding food for a short period of time, including those that provide carbohydrates, helped reduce the number of seizures suffered by patients. This is in addition to other positive effects on body weight, blood sugar, cholesterol, and satiety/hunger.
Unfortunately, this long-term job is not achievable – it cannot be held for more than a few days. Therefore, the keto diet was designed to mimic the beneficial effects of fasting.
In short, the keto diet works by “fooling” the body as if it were fasting, by strictly eliminating the glucose found in carbohydrate foods.
Normally, carbohydrates in food are converted to glucose, which is then transported throughout the body and is important in supporting brain function.
But if there are few carbohydrates left in the diet, the liver begins to turn fats into fatty acids and ketone compounds, the latter reaching the brain and replacing glucose as an energy source.
In some ways, the keto diet is similar to the Atkins diet, which also increases the body’s ability to burn fat by eating meals low in carbohydrates, along with eliminating sugary foods. The difference is that the keto diet is based on healthy fats, less protein, and a lack of processed meat.
In short, the keto diet is a kind of low-carb, or low-carb diet: The idea is to get as many calories from healthy protein and fat, and as few carbohydrates as possible. To do this, you will have to give up sugar, juices, pastries, and white bread.
What is Ketosis?
So, what is Ketosis? and, how do you explain the working of the Keto diet?
After you start consuming a ketogenic diet, your body gets in a state of “ketosis” – a metabolic state, which occurs when most of the body’s energy comes from ketone compounds in the blood and not from glucose in carbohydrate foods.
This condition can be achieved after several days of total fasting, but, it is not a reliable solution.
How does the Keto diet work?
When you eat less than 50 grams of carbohydrates a day, eventually your body runs out of fuel, meaning no blood sugar (this is a fuel it can use quickly). Until this happens, it usually takes 3, 4 days.
Then, you will start breaking down proteins and fats to get energy, which can make you lose weight. You are in a state of ketosis.
It is worth mentioning here that the ketogenic diet is a short-term one, which focuses more on weight loss and not on the possible health benefits.
To bring your body into that state of ketosis, you will have to
- considerably reduce glucose intake from carbohydrate foods: cereals, starchy vegetables, fruits, etc.
- you can find alternative sources of fuel such as healthy fats: avocado, coconut oil, salmon, etc.
Once the ketone levels in your blood rise to a certain point, you will enter the state of ketosis. The result is a rapid weight loss until you reach a healthy and stable body weight.
But it is quite difficult not to eat carbohydrate foods to maintain the state of ketosis.
As an example here, to give you a clearer idea, the traditional ketogenic diet created for patients with epilepsy aimed at obtaining about 75% of calories. of fats, 5% of carbohydrates, and 20% of proteins.
Different types of Ketogenic diets
Do, what to eat when you are on the Keto diet? From the classic version, several versions of the ketogenic diet have appeared today:
- Standard ketogenic diet (SKD) – is the lowest in carbohydrates, has moderate protein, and is high in fat. The ratio is traditional: 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% carbohydrates.
- Cyclic ketogenic diet (CKD) – is a variation that involves periods of high carbohydrate diet, such as, for example, 5 days of keto diet followed by 2 days of high carbohydrates.
- Targeted keto diet (TKD) – this allows you to add carbohydrates, but only around the hours of physical training.
- Protein-rich ketogenic diet (HPKD) – which is similar to the classic version, but includes more protein, where the ratio is 60% fat, 35% protein and 5% carbohydrates.
- Restrictive keto diet (RKD) – is specially designed to treat cancer and aims to restrict both carbohydrates and calories.
- Vegan and vegetarian ketogenic diet – instead of animal products, plant-based nutritious foods, vegetables, and fruits low in carbohydrates are included.
However, only standard and high-protein ketogenic diets have been extensively studied.
Cyclic or targeted ketogenic diets are more advanced methods and are used primarily by bodybuilders or athletes.
Who is recommended the Keto diet?
People most often use a ketogenic diet to lose weight, but it can help manage certain medical conditions, such as epilepsy.
It can also help people with heart disease, certain brain diseases, and even acne, but there needs to be more research in these areas.
Talk to your doctor first to find out if it is safe to try a ketogenic diet, especially if you have type 1 diabetes.
Are there any health benefits of the Keto diet?
And if we talked about the situations in which the keto diet can help, let’s develop a little:
#1. Weight loss
From what has been presented, it is quite clear that this diet is an effective way to lose weight without starvation and, therefore, to reduce the risk of diseases related to this aspect.
In fact, research shows that the ketogenic diet is clearly superior to the low-fat diet. Moreover, the diet is so ok that you can lose weight without counting calories and reducing food intake (portions).
A recent study found that those who were on a keto diet lost two times more weight than those on a low-fat, calorie-restricted diet. At the same time, their HDL levels and cholesterol triglyceride were improved.
A different study was carried on a group of people who were on a ketogenic diet showed that they lost three times more weight than those on the Diabetes Diet.
There are several reasons why the ketogenic diet is better than a low-fat diet, including high protein intake, which offers many benefits. It lowers blood sugar, increases ketones, and improves insulin sensitivity.
#2. Ketogenic diet for diabetes and pre-diabetes
The main symptoms of Diabetes are high blood sugar levels, changes in metabolism, and impaired insulin function.
The keto diet can help diabetic patients in many ways. It can help you to lose excess fat, which has a close link with metabolic syndrome, prediabetes, and type-2 diabetes.
A survey showed that the keto diet can improve insulin sensitivity by as much as 75%. In a different study, it was found that 33% of participants with type-2 diabetes were able to discontinue their prescribed diabetes medications.
In another research, the ketogenic group lost 11 kg, whereas the group consuming more carbohydrates lost about 7 kg. This link between the Keto diet and weight loss is beneficial for type-2 diabetes patients.
Additionally, 95% of the ketogenic group participants were able to discontinue or reduce their diabetes medication compared to about 60%. in the group consuming more carbohydrates.
#3. Other benefits of the ketogenic diet
Let’s not forget that the ketogenic diet has actually appeared as a tool to treat neurological diseases such as epilepsy.
However, studies have shown that this diet can have benefits for other health problems
- Polycystic ovary syndrome – the keto diet can help in reducing insulin levels, that play a key role in this syndrome.
- Heart disease – The keto diet can reduce risk factors such as blood sugar, body fat, blood pressure, and HDL cholesterol.
- Parkinson’s disease – a study showed that the use of Keto diet improved Parkinson’s symptoms.
- Alzheimer’s disease – a ketogenic diet can slow the progression of this disease and reduce its symptoms.
- Cancer – this diet is can be used for treating several types of cancer, as well as for slowing tumor growth.
- Brain Injury – A study on animanls found that diet can reduce contusions and help recover from brain damage.
However, keep in mind that much of this research is far from complete.
Dietary side effects and how you can minimize them
Although the keto diet is generally safe for healthy people, there may be some side effects as your body adapts.
This early period is called the “keto flu” and usually lasts a few days. It includes:
- low energy level
- low attention
- feeling hungry
- sleep problems
- nausea and digestive discomfort
- poor performance in exercise
To minimize these effects, you can try a classic low-carb diet for the first few weeks. This allows the body to learn to burn more fat without completely eliminating carbohydrates.
A keto diet can change the balance of water and minerals in the body – you may add more salt to the preparations or need mineral supplements. In the latter case, you can take 1000mg of potassium and 300mg of magnesium a day to minimize side effects.
At least, in the beginning, it is essential to eat until you are full and to avoid calorie restriction.
Food supplements that can help you during the Keto diet
Besides supplements with potassium and magnesium minerals, you can also try
- MCT oil – which, added to beverages or yogurts, provides energy and helps increase ketone levels.
- Green tea – can be beneficial for energy, weight loss, and mental performance.
- Vegan protein – a teaspoon added to shakes or yogurt can increase the daily intake.
Keto – an exceptional diet, but not for everyone
The keto diet can be great for overweight people, diabetics, or those who want to improve their metabolism.
But it may be less suitable for performance athletes or those who want to increase muscle mass or weight.