A ketogenic diet (Keto) is a low-carb high fat diet. The objective is to keep you in a metabolic state of ketosis so that the fat in the body can be burned to form ketones which becomes the source of energy instead of glucose.
What is Ketogenic Diet?
Since you are hardly eating any carbohydrates, your blood sugar levels and insulin falls. As a result ketones are formed in the liver by burning fat.
Ketogenic diet in many respect like Atkins diet and other low-carb diets.
It shifts the metabolism towards fats and ketones as against carbs and glucose that happens in high carb diet.
In the high carb diet glucose is formed and is used as primary source of energy over all the other sources. The insulin is produced to carry the glucose to every cell of the body. Since glucose is used as energy the fat is not required so it gets deposited in the body.
When the body is starved of carbs, the body initiates a natural process called ketosis to survive by breaking down of fats in the liver. ketones are porduced which then act as the natural source of energy in the absence of glucose.
The ketogenic diet which is very low in carbohydrates forces the body to breakdown the fat to produce ketones.
What to Eat and What to Avoid in Keto Diet?
Since most of your carbs come from grains, fruits and vegetables. You will have to reduce the high carb food items.
- Stay away from refined carbs like pastas, breads and cereals
- Avoid sugar, honey and maple syrup etc.
- Give up starchy vegetables like potatoes and yams
- Don't eat fruits such as apples, bananas and oranges etc
Some fruits and vegetables with low carbs are good to fill the stomach along with high fats for the ketosis to effectively work.
You should eat the following:
- Animal fats-meats, fishes, poultry and eggs
- High Fat Dairy - Cheese, butter and cream
- Plant Based Farts- Coconut oil, Olive Oil etc
- Nuts and Seeds - Almonds, walnuts, cashews, pistachios, sunflower seeds etc
- All Berries with low glycemic Index
- Vegetables like broccoli, cauliflowers etc
If you are able to maintain the carb levels low ( 15-30 grams) and fat levels high then it will be more beneficial. Protein also should be consumed. So the keto diet is actually low-carb, medium protein and high fat diet.
Benefits of a Ketogenic Diet
There are a number of health benefits you can achieve with the ketogenic diet. Some of the important are described below
1. Weight Loss
Once of the biggest and most popular benefit of ketogenic diet is weight loss. Since fat is broken down to ketones and energy, you slowly begin to lose weight.
2. Lowers Cholesterol and Blood Pressure
Since carbs consumption is negligible, the triglyceride levels and cholesterol levels falls. Both these elements are responsible for narrowing of arteries and heart diseases. Once the LDL levels are decreased and HDL levels are increased in the serum cholesterol then blood flow improves and blood pressure falls.
3. Controls Blood Sugar
Once again low carb means low sugar in the blood. This means that if you are per-diabetes or even type 2 diabetes patient then ketogenic diet will reverse diabetes.
4. Insulin Resistance
It helps to lower insulin levels to bring it back to normal levels where there is no insulin resistance. High sugar in the blood requires higher insulin and very high sugar levels can develop insulin resistance. Since sugar levels are down in ketogenic diet, that situation doesn't arise and insulin remains in the manageable levels to effectively function.
5. Increase Energy
The fat fuel ketones are more efficient as compared to glucose as source of body energy. This normalizes the feeling of hunger and you don't crave food.
6. Improved Mental Performance
Since there are no carbs in your diet now. There are no spikes in the sugar levels. The ketones give steady supplies of energy to brain cells. This results in better mental focus and improved brain functionality.
7. Clears Acne
New studies have shown that high carb diet increases acne but low carb reduces acne.
If you are planning to change to ketogenic diet, then do it slowly and consult a nutritionist before going full fledged into it. If you are taking any medication for diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol or any other heart condition then your doctor is the best guide to help you.