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10 Reasons to Try a Ketogenic Diet
By Tommy Williams, The Huffington Post
The ketogenic diet, also known as keto diet, is a very low-carb and high-fat diet that have many similarities with the low-carb and Atkins diet.
The Ketogenic Diet involves drastically decreasing carbohydrate intake and substituting it with fat. The reduction in carbs can put our bodies into a metabolic state known as ketosis.
When this occurs, the body becomes exceptionally efficient at burning fat for energy. Moreover, it turns fat into ketones in your liver that can supply energy for the brain. This diet can cause immense reductions in insulin and blood sugar levels. All of these processes have numerous health benefits.
TYPES OF KETOGENIC DIET
There are many forms of the Ketogenic diet, including:
- Standard Ketogenic Diet – it is a very low-carb, high-fat, and moderate-protein diet. It generally contains 5% carbs, 75% fat, and 20% protein.
- Targeted Ketogenic Diet – it allows you to add more carbs around exercise.
- Cyclical Ketogenic Diet – it involves some periods of higher-carb refeeds, like five ketogenic days followed by two high-carb days.
- High-protein Ketogenic Diet – it includes more protein. The ratio is usually 35% protein, 5% carbs, and 60% fat. This version is similar to a standard Ketogenic diet.
Though, just the standard and high-protein keto diets have been researched widely. Targeted or cyclical ketogenic diets are more radical approaches and primarily used by athletes and bodybuilders.
The information in this article generally applies to the standard ketogenic diet, even though many of the same principles apply to the other keto-versions as well.
Health Benefits of Ketogenic Diet
The Keto diet essentially originated as a tool for treating many neurological diseases, as epilepsy. However, studies have now proven that this diet has benefits for various health conditions, including:
- Lose Weight: A ketogenic diet is a proven way to lose weight and reduce risk factors for disease. Actually, the research found that this diet is far superior to the recommended low-fat diets.
- Diabetes: This disease is characterized by high blood sugar levels, impaired insulin function, and great changes in metabolism. The keto diet could help you lose excess fat that is closely related to prediabetes, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.
- Epilepsy:Studies has shown that the keto diet can cause great reductions in seizures in children with epilepsy.
- Cancer:The Ketogenic diet is presently being used to slow tumor growth and treat many types of cancer.
- Heart disease:This diet can improve risk factors like HDL levels, blood sugar, blood pressure, and body fat.
- Parkinson’s disease:A research found that this diet helped improve symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
- Alzheimer’s disease:It may decrease symptoms of Alzheimer’s and slow down the progression of the disease.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome:The keto diet can help lower insulin levels that play a main role in polycystic ovary syndrome.
- Acne: eating less processed foods or sugar and lower insulin levels can help improve acne.
- Brain injuries:An animal study showed that this diet can reduce concussions and assist recovery after brain injury.
Nevertheless, keep in mind that studies into many of these areas are far from definite.
Foods to Avoid
In brief, any food which is high in carbs needs to be limited. Here is a list of foods that should be reduced or removed on a Ketogenic diet:
- Fruit:All fruits, apart from small portions of strawberries and berries.
- Sugary foods: Smoothies, soda, ice cream, cake, candy, fruit juice, etc.
- Grains or starches: Rice, cereal, pasta, wheat-based products, etc.
- Diet or low-fat products:These are often high in carbs and are highly processed.
- Beans or legumes:Chickpeas, peas, lentils, kidney beans, etc.
- Root vegetables and tubers: Parsnips, sweet potatoes, potatoes, carrots, etc.
- Unhealthy fat:Avoid mayonnaise, processed vegetable oils, etc.
- Some sauces or condiments:These often contain unhealthy fat and sugar.
- Sugar-free diet food:These are usually high in sugar alcohols that may affect ketone levels in certain cases. These foods also have a tendency to be highly pr
- Alcohol:Because of its carb content, several alcoholic drinks can throw you out of ketosis.
Foods to Eat
You should base the most of your meals around the following foods:
- Fatty fish:Such as trout, mackerel, tuna, and salmon.
- Meat: Ham, turkey, red meat, sausage, chicken, red meat, bacon, and steak.
- Eggs:Aim for organic eggs rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.
- Cheese:Unprocessed cheese (goat, blue, mozzarella, cheddar, or cream).
- Cream and butter:Aim for grass-fed when possible.
- Seeds and nuts: Walnuts, pumpkin seeds, almonds, chia seeds, flaxseeds, etc.
- Healthy oils:Primarily coconut oil, avocado oil, and extra virgin olive oil.
- Low-carb veggies:Tomatoes, peppers, onions, and most green veggies, etc.
- Avocados:Freshly prepared guacamole or whole avocados.
- Condiments:You can use pepper, salt, and many other healthy spices and herbs.
It’s best to base your keto diet mostly on whole, single ingredient nutrients.
Healthy Ketogenic Snacks
Here are some healthy, ketogenic snacks that you can consume if you get hungry between the meals:
- A handful of seeds and nuts;
- Fatty fish or meat;
- 90% dark chocolate;
- 1-2 hardboiled eggs;
- Cheese with olives;
- Celery with guacamole and salsa;
- Strawberries and cream;
- Small portions of leftover meals;
- Full-fat yogurt mixed with nut butter and cocoa powder, or
- A low-carb milkshake with nut butter, cocoa powder, and almond milk.
Supplements for a Ketogenic Diet
Even though no supplement is needed, some could be useful:
- Minerals:Added salt and some other minerals can be significant when starting out, because of mineral balance and shifts in water.
- MCT oil:Added to yogurt or drinks, this oil helps increase ketone levels and provides energy.
- Creatine: It provides many benefits for performance and health. This can be especially helpful if you are combining a keto diet with the workout.
- Caffeine:Caffeine may have benefits for performance, fat loss, and energy.
- Whey:You can use half a scoop of whey protein in yogurt or shakes in order to increase the daily protein intake.
- Exogenous ketones:Can help raise the ketone levels in your body.
Even though the Ketogenic diet is SAFE for healthy people, there might be some early side effects while your body adapts. This is usually called “keto flu” – and is over within a few days. Keto flu includes poor mental function and energy, decreased exercise performance, nausea, increased hunger, digestive discomfort, and sleep issues.
In order to reduce this, you could try a standard low-carb diet for the first 1-2 weeks, in order to teach your body to burn more fat before you totally remove carbs.
This diet can also change the mineral and water balance in the body, thus, adding some extra salt in the meals or taking mineral supplement can be helpful. For minerals, try consuming 300 mg magnesium, 1000 mg potassium, and 3000–4000 mg sodium daily to reduce side effects.
At least in the beginning, it’s crucial to avoid restricting calories too much and to eat until fullness. Typically, this diet causes weight loss without deliberate calorie restriction.
A Ketogenic diet is good – but not for everyone
A ketogenic diet can be ideal for people who are diabetic, overweight, diabetic or want to improve their metabolic health. It might be less suitable for those wishing to add large amounts of weight or muscle, or elite athletes. And, as with most diets, it will only work if you are consistent and of course, if you stick with it in the long-term.
That being said, certain stuff is as well proven in nutrition as the weight loss benefits and powerful health of a Ketogenic diet.