The ketogenic diet has had increased popularity over the last couple of years. This is after recommendations from renowned nutrition experts, and its increased use by popular athletes. However, there is a lot of confusion regarding what it entails and how it benefits the body.
To fully understand it, we need to look at ketosis, the diet components, benefits and risks. We are also going to compare the ketogenic diet with other popular diets.
Ketosis is a metabolic state in the body, in which the liver produces tiny organic molecules referred to as ketone bodies. These molecules have to be produced at certain levels for healthy ketosis to exist.
Ketosis occurs when the body does not have enough glucose. Glucose is the primary source of energy for the body, and it is usually derived from carbohydrates i.e. sugars and starchy foods. These carbohydrates are broken down into glucose which is used by the body immediately, stored in the liver or stored in the muscles as glycogen.
If there is not enough glucose or a source of glucose available to provide energy, the body looks for alternative sources. Specifically, it burns down fat. The fatty molecules are broken down to form chemical compounds. It is these chemicals that are referred to as ketones. Therefore in the ketosis state, your body shifts from carbohydrates to fats, in its energy dependence.
This is a diet that is used to encourage ketosis. It was first used in the treatment of seizures from people suffering from epilepsy, especially children. Overtime, it was found to have other benefits by nutritionists and fitness enthusiasts. The diet basically involves consuming foods that are low in carbohydrates but very high in fats.
There are two main types of ketogenic diets; classified according to their carbohydrates, fat and proteins ratio.
– Standard ketogenic diet (SKD): 5% carbohydrates, 75% fat and 20% protein
– High-protein ketogenic diet: 5% carbohydrates, 60% fat and 35% protein
There are other versions of the diet, defined by consumption habits. The Cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD) for example, entails consuming the ketogenic diet several times, then taking a break for a few days to eat a high carbohydrate diet. This is usually five days ketogenic diet and two days high-carb diet.
The Targeted ketogenic diet (TKD) involves consuming the food for a specific purpose in the body. It is mostly used by athletes and bodybuilders when they add carbohydrates at different times during their workout. https://supplementpolice.com/ketogenic-diet/
The foods that provide the best benefits during ketosis include:
– Fatty fish
– Cream and butter
– Nuts and seeds
– Low-carb vegetables
– Healthy oils
Foods To Avoid
These are foods that should not be consumed if one wants to reach a state of ketosis
– Sugar and sugary foods and drinks
– Grains and starchy foods
– Tubers and root vegetables
– Unhealthy fats
– Low-fat products
– Unhealthy fats
Benefits Of The Ketogenic Diet
– Helps to increase athletic performance
– Reduces body weight
– Enhances muscular endurance
– Enhances aerobic capacity
– Improves the levels of the good cholesterol
The diet has also been found to lower the risk factors of several diseases, including:
– Brain Injury – aiding recovery and reducing concussions
– Heart Disease – By reducing the risk factors i.e., blood sugar, blood pressure and bad cholesterol
– Parkinson’s Disease – Improving the symptoms
– Cancer – Slowing tumor growth and treating some types
– Alzheimer’s Disease – Slow progression and reduce symptoms
– Compared to a low-fat diet, a person on a ketogenic diet loses weight 2.2 times more
– It is also more superior to a diabetes recommended diet because one lose weight three times more
– Lowers blood sugar which improves insulin sensitivity. Some studies have found that insulin sensitivity can increase by 75%
– It does not enhance anaerobic power
– It does not increase muscular strength
– Increased hunger
– Digestive issues
– Low energy
– Poor mental function
– Sleep issues
Most of these problems occur during the early periods of the diet, before the body adapts. They can be minimized by combining with a low-carb diet regularly. It is also recommended to consume some mineral salt supplements of sodium, magnesium and potassium.
These help to restore the water-mineral imbalance that is responsible for some of the above problems. Another major problem is Ketoacidosis which is caused by a high level of Ketones in the body. The acidity in the blood rises, and the condition can prove fatal. It happens mostly to people who have type 1 diabetes. If ketoacidosis occurs, the person needs to undergo emergency medical treatment.
Ketogenic Vs Low-Carb Vs Atkins Vs Low-Calorie Diets
In a low-carb diet, there is no definitive or specific number of carbs that a person is supposed to consume. Most people tend to consume less than 130 grams. A Ketogenic diet involves consuming very low carbohydrates with the aim of reaching the state of ketosis. The common amount is less than 50 or 30 grams.
In the Atkins diet, a person consumes less than 20 grams of carbs in a day. This causes a state of ketosis, and thus the Atkins diet can be said to be similar to a Ketogenic diet.
A low-calorie diet, on the other hand, focuses on reducing calorie intake. The ketogenic diet focuses on reducing carbs though in the process calories are also reduced.
It is clear that a ketogenic diet has many benefits which actually outweigh the cons. However, it is possible that it can work well for some people, while being risky on others.
This diet is mostly recommended for people who are overweight and those with diabetes (especially type 2).
It is also very beneficial for people looking to improve metabolic health. If you are looking to add a lot of muscle and weight, this may not be the right diet for you.
To reap the benefits of this diet, there is a need for one to be consistent, so that the body can get used to handling the new foods consumed. If however at one point severe diet-related symptoms start to occur, one should stop immediately. It is also always advisable to consult a doctor before trying out this diet.