Ketosis and Keto Diet are two words we constantly hear in the weight loss world everyday. There are many diet programs and supplements available promising to induce fast weight loss. But does Keto diet really help you in achieving that slim waist that you have always dreamed of? Or is it just another fad being pushed by the health and fitness industry.
That’s what we are going to discuss for this article and see if Keto Diet and Ketosis, really do have the potential for losing those extra pounds of weight that we put up during winter months. Let’s start by explaining what really is Ketosis and what type of foods or diet would you call as Keto or Ketogenic.
What is Ketosis?
To state simply, this is our body’s natural metabolic process using which our body uses it’s stored fat deposits and through this process converts it into tiny molecules called Ketones. These Ketones are then used by our body as fuel for performing various internal and external bodily functions.
Normally our body, uses both carbohydrates and fats for energy but what Ketosis does is it forces our body to utilise it’s stored fats instead of carbohydrates for our energy requirements. So now that you can see, when our body starts using our fat deposits for energy we automatically start losing the weight stored in the form of those fats all over our body.
Ketosis, in part can be achieved by changing our eating habits and also the food itself that we intake everday. That specific diet, that people follow to induce Ketosis has come to be called as Ketogenic or simply Keto diet.
What is a Keto Diet?
Quite simply, a diet that forces our body to utilize our fat deposits instead of the carbs and fat intakes from our daily food. Usually our bodies break down the food we eat into glucose, which it uses as a direct form of energy of our internal and external bodily functions.
But as in case of a Keto diet which lacks in carbohydrates and is more focused on intake of healthy fats, which are then broken down into Ketones by our body for energy.
What are the many benefits of a Keto Diet?
One of the most common and most useful benefit of following a Keto diet regimen is that because of how it works, as explained above, it helps our body in losing excess weight which can sometimes be fast depending on how strict of a diet plan you follow.
But from research studies, Keto diet has been found to have many other benefits for us which enhance our body’s overall well-being and keeps it functioning in a highly effective way. Let’s see the various other benefits of Keto diet.
1) Keep our appetite in check: When following a Keto diet, our bodies produces Ketones which in-turn helps in suppressing hunger to an extent by increasing levels of cholecystokinin, which is basically a hormone produced by our gastro-intestinal system. This hormone induces a natural mechanism and helps in keeping our hunger in check and prevents us from over-eating or binge eating.
2) Avoids lethargy by keeping our energy levels up: When we start a Keto diet, our glucose levels fall and as a results in the beginning we tend to feel some weakness. But if we keep following the Keto diet regimen, our bodies adapt to the low glucose levels and starts to produce Ketones, which are then used for the energy requirements of our body. The energy derived from Ketones is much more helpful in preventing the unsteady level of energy ups and downs which come from a high carb and high sugary diets, as Ketones are produced constantly from our stored body fat and also from the fat intake from a Keto diet.
3) Improves our brains functions and mental focus: As a result of high energy derived from Ketones, our brain can perform at it’s full capacity when required to complete complex tasks of solving math problems, developing a complex programming algorithm or any other creative work that requires us to maintain high level of mental clarity and focus.
4) Helps in reducing inflammation: Carb-based diets are known to cause inflammation in our body when taken in excess. Inflammation as we all know is our body’s natural process of healing itself from health adverse bodily functions such as consuming too much salty or sugary foods and also preventing our body from harm caused by various pathogens. Keto diets are mostly fat based, which help in lowering inflammation and it’s ill effects.
5) Increases our body’s stamina/endurance: Another positive outcome, which is often a result of a low carb diet. Carbohydrates, when are known to be a source of quick energy for performing our bodily functions. So our body experiences high and low energy levels after a high card diet, which in-turn reduces our body’s ability to keep performing at optimal levels after that energy derived from carbs is exhausted. While fats are know to be a longer source of energy and keeps our body supplied with constant fuel which helps in preventing energy highs and lows and builds our bodily endurance and stamina.
6) Reduces our insulin level: High blood sugar and insulin, often results in diabetes which causes many ill-effects to our bodily functions. Keto Diets help keep the insulin levels in check and also brings down high insulin levels for people suffering from high blood sugar. However, people suffering with Diabetes should consult their doctor before pursuing Keto diet regimen.
Some side effects of Ketosis:
When we start following a Keto diet regimen, our body faces some withdrawal symptoms from lack of carbs. It’s also called as “keto flu” by some people, but it’s not much to worry about. As we continue to follow the a keto diet regimen our bodies adapt to the change of low carbs intake and adjust it’s systems to draw energy through Ketosis and Ketones. Nevertheless, if the following side effects last longer than a 4-5 days, then you should take it slow and remember to always consult a doctor or certified dietician before pursuing a strict regimen.
- Brain Fog
- Sore muscles
- Bad breath
As we mentioned, these are mostly withdrawal symptoms but still you should take care and consult with a specialist before taking up any diet programs.
What foods can you include on the keto diet?
The following foods can be included in your Keto diet regimen. Remember to have a balanced diet full of nutritious and healthy fats, while also maintaining high protein and fiber foods in your diet.
1) Seafood/Fish: Fish, especially Salmon is very healthy source of healthy fats and fatty acids. Apart from salmon, you can always include other fish such as herring, mackerel or sardines in your diet.
2) Vegetables which are low in carbs: It’s always recommended to include leafy vegetables as part of Keto diet. Such items include spinach, avocado, broccoli, cauliflower and kale. Apart from high fiber content, these are also an excellent source of many vitamins and minerals required by our body .
3) Most cheese: Cheese when taken in moderation is always helpful to maintain body and muscle mass. Though there are various types of cheese available to us to consume. Almost all of them are low in carbohydrates and filled with healthy fats.
4) Eggs: Any healthy diet remains incomplete without inclusion of eggs, which some experts also call a superfood. As they are an excellent source of lean protein, healthy cholesterol and also some vitamins & minerals required by our body. They are pretty low in carbs so including them in your keto regimen is always a nice idea.
5) Berries: While we cannot include all fruits when pursuing a Keto diet, you can always include berries if you’re fond of them. Apart from being low in carbs, they are a good source of dietary fiber. Also they are an unbeatable source of anti-oxidants, which prevent inflammation and boosts our body’s immunity against diseases.
6) Meats: Meats, be it obtained from poultry or dairy animals complete a Keto diet regimen. While you must avoid processed meats, unprocessed and organic grass-fed meats are a very healthy source of high quality proteins, healthy fats, B vitamins and some minerals. While Keto diets are mostly high in healthy fats, including protein rich foods is always advisable to balance out the keto diet.
7) Cooking Oils such as Olive oil, coconut oil and ghee or clarified butter: Always use these cooking oils, which have been proven to be very healthy for cooking meals, because of their well balanced nutrients. These are especially quite low in carbohydrates and high in healthy fats which make them an indispensable component for preparing keto foods. They also have many other health benefits such as lowering the risk of heart diseases and keeping blood pressure levels in check.
What foods to avoid when following keto diet regimen?
Foods which are usually considered healthy, may not be considered part of keto diets. One basic rule to follow when you’re trying to maintain your strict keto diet regimen, is to avoid foods high is sugar and starch.
You should avoid most fruits, potatoes, pasta, beans, soda, canned fruits juices, rice, donuts, bread, chocolate (except maybe dark chocolates with low or no sugar).
As with prescribed most diet regimen, keto diets hold great potential if followed with caution and moderation. As we know, our bodies react differently to different diets and the range of positive effects can vary widely depending on many factors starting from our individual genes to various other dietary and environmental factors. We should always consult a certified dietician or a doctor specializing in prescribing diets.