What is Keto?
Have you heard about the newest craze in the healthy industry? It’s called the Ketogenic Diet. It seems like every other person I talk to these days is trying this diet, mainly for weight loss reasons.
So, what exactly is the keto diet? What makes it so great and is it healthy for our bodies?
A keto diet is basically an extremely low/no carb diet, where the body produces ketones in the liver to be used as energy. The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet that in medicine is used primarily to treat difficult-to-control (refractory) epilepsy in children. The diet forces the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates.
The ketogenic diet became popular as a therapy for epilepsy in the 1920s and 30s. It was developed to provide an alternative to non-mainstream fasting, which had demonstrated success as an epilepsy therapy. However, the diet was eventually largely abandoned due to the introduction of new anticonvulsant therapies. Although it emerged that most cases of epilepsy could be effectively controlled using these medications, they still failed to achieve epileptic control in around 20% to 30% of epileptics. For these individuals, and particularly children with epilepsy, the diet was re-introduced as a technique for managing the condition.
The average American should be getting 50–65% of their calories from carbohydrates. When you eat something high in carbs, your body will produce glucose and insulin.
Glucose is the easiest molecule for your body to convert and use as energy so that will be chosen over any other energy source. Insulin is produced to process the glucose in your bloodstream by taking it around the body.
Since the glucose is being used as a primary energy, your fats are not needed and are therefore stored. Typically on a normal, higher carbohydrate diet, the body will use glucose as the main form of energy. By lowering the intake of carbs, the body is induced into a state known as ketosis.
Ketosis is a natural process the body initiates to help us survive when food intake is low. During this state, we produce ketones, which are produced from the breakdown of fats in the liver. The end goal of a properly maintained keto diet is to force your body into this metabolic state. We don’t do this through starvation of calories, but starvation of carbohydrates.
So, the questions that need to be addressed are is the Keto diet safe and does it really work?
Sure, it sounds great and you might lose some weight, but what about the side effects? There are studies shown that keto is safe for obese and excessively overweight individuals. However, there are also multiple clinical reviews pointing out that patients on restricted low-carb diets will regain most of their weight within a year. Individuals on a keto diet may also experience: dizziness, drowsiness, reduced strength and physical performance, sleep problems, heart palpations, mineral deficiencies, flu-like symptoms, irritability, diarrhea and fatigue just to name a few.
Have you heard of the Keto Flu? Many individuals who start a low carb diet will also experience a “keto flu” within the first few days for starting the diet. Basically, this is your body’s way of adapting to burning ketones instead of glucose. Some of the basic symptoms include: headaches, nausea, upset stomach, lack of mental clarity, sleepiness and fatigue. Although these symptoms should only last a few days, it’s important to be aware that this could potentially happen to you.
Overall, the ketogenic diet is a very restrictive plan that most people can’t stick with and isn’t a long-term solution for weight loss. If we can learn anything from the keto diet it’s that reducing carbs and incorporating more healthy fats, like nuts and avocados, are a good idea for most of us. Small steps toward your health can make a huge difference. Do your research and figure out what diet will work best for your lifestyle and individual needs. Remember it’s never to late to start working on a healthier you!
**Before starting any diet it’s important to consult with your physician to make sure it’s a good choice for you.