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What is Keto

What is Keto

The ketogenic diet (keto) is a low-carb, high-fat diet that relies heavily on the most significant reduction in the intake of carbohydrates, less than 50 grams per day, and replacing it with fat. Specialists believe that reducing carbohydrates puts the body in a metabolic state called ‘ketosis,’ so the body becomes effective in burning fats for energy. It also turns fats into ketones in the liver, which provide power to the brain. 

Ketogenic diets can drastically lower blood sugar and insulin levels, along with couple numbers of other health benefits.

How does the keto diet work?

The ketogenic diet violates most general healthy nutrition recommendations. Most nutrient-rich foods are important sources of carbohydrates, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, milk, and yogurt, since carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for the body. When there are not enough carbohydrates available to get power, the body breaks down fats and turns them into ketones. Ketones become the body’s primary source of energy. It provides energy for the heart, kidneys, and other muscles. The body also uses ketones as an alternative source of life in the brain, hence the name (ketogenic) diet.

Keto diet pyramid

Keto diet pyramid

Types of Keto Diets

The traditional, or standard, ketogenic diet (SKD)

This type is based on very low carbohydrates, moderate protein content, and high-fat content. The proportions of the daily requirement are usually divided into 70% fat, 20% protein, and 10% carbohydrates.

The cyclic ketogenic diet (CKD)

This type includes increasing the percentage of carbohydrate intake for specific periods, such as following the ketogenic diet for five days, then following a diet with a high carbohydrate content for two days only.

The targeted ketogenic diet (TKD)

This diet allows for additional carbohydrates to be increased only during periods of intense physical activity.

High-protein ketogenic diet 

The diet includes a higher proportion of protein, which is often 35% protein, 60% fat, and 5% carbohydrates.

So what are you going to benefit from these types of diets? Let’s have a look at the pros and cons!

The Pros

The Keto diet came into light for its followers in 1924; For treating epilepsy, but other benefits were discovered later, which include:

  • Rapid weight loss.
  • Control of type 2 diabetes.
  • It reduced glycated hemoglobin.
  • Reduced doses of blood-sugar controlling drugs.
  • Significant reduction in blood triglycerides.

According to the American Diabetes Association, studies have been conducted to compare the percentage of glycated hemoglobin of individuals who follow a low-carbohydrate diet, such as keto, and another diet that increases carbohydrates. The result was a decrease in the percentage of glycated hemoglobin in the low-carbohydrate diet, compared to the high-carbohydrate diet for a period of between three and six months only. Still, the rates were equal when the study was conducted for a year or more.

Another study was also conducted to compare the percentage of glycated hemoglobin of individuals who follow a low-carbohydrate diet, such as keto, and another low-fat diet for six months. The result was a decrease in the percentage of glycated hemoglobin in the low-carbohydrate diet compared to the low-fat diet.

The Cons

The ketogenic diet is mostly contraindicated or not recommended for people with the following conditions:

  • Pancreatic disease.
  • Liver diseases.
  • Thyroid problems.
  • Eating disorders, or a history of an eating disorder.
  • Gallbladder infections.
  • Chronic kidney disease.
  • Pregnant women.

Also, there are short-term and long-term health risks for all people following the ketogenic diet. Some of its short-term health risks include flu-like symptoms, like upset stomach, headache, fatigue, and dizzy spells; this is called ‘keto flu.’ Keto also causes sleep disruption with some individuals. 

Limiting the intake of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains rich in fiber, can increase the risk of constipation. Often, people on the keto diet should take fiber and vitamin supplements, but this should be discussed with a physician or healthcare provider beforehand. The keto diet can also increase diuresis and quickly reduce blood glucose levels. Therefore, consulting a dietician before the start of the diet is necessary; to prevent dehydration, reduction in the dose of insulin, and drugs for diabetes, thus decreasing the blood glucose level to its familiar grounds.

On the other hand, the long-term health risks of the keto diet include kidney stones, liver disease, and some vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

To sum up

All nutrients must be balanced, in appropriate amounts for the body, and without reducing each food component to the point of harm; so that all nutrients are consumed to achieve health and benefit for the body. 

Research supports following the keto diet for epilepsy with medical team follow-up. It is a very complex treatment. As for its treatment for obesity, weight loss, and other health benefits, it is still under research and study.

Moderation is the key to following any long-term diet. As for the keto diet, studies have shown immediate benefits, such as short-term weight loss. But the keto diet can increase disease rate and mortality in the long term.

To follow a beneficial, healthy diet, you should consult a dietician. To prepare a program that helps in losing weight based on needs and health goals.

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