The “keto” in a ketogenic diet comes from the fact that it makes the body produce small fuel molecules called “ketones”.This is an alternative fuel for the body, used when blood sugar (glucose) is in short supply.
Ketones are produced if you eat very few carbs (that are quickly broken down into blood sugar) and only moderate amounts of protein (excess protein can also be converted to blood sugar). Ketones are produced in the liver, from fat. They are then used as fuel throughout the body, including the brain. The brain is a hungry organ that consumes lots of energy every day, and it can’t run on fat directly. It can only run on glucose… or ketones.
On a ketogenic diet, your entire body switches its fuel supply to run almost entirely on fat. Insulin levels become very low and fat burning increases dramatically. It becomes easy to access your fat stores to burn them off. This is obviously great if you’re trying to lose weight, but there are also other less obvious benefits, like for example less hunger and a steady supply of energy.
Benefits Of A Keto Diet
The benefits that come from a ketogenic diet are similar to those of any strict low-carb diet. However, the effect might be even greater since protein is more restricted. This raises ketones more and lowers insulin (the fat-storing hormone) more.
Turning your body into a fat-burning machine has obvious benefits for weight loss. Fat burning is vastly increased while insulin – the fat storing hormone – levels drop greatly. This creates ideal circumstances in which fat loss can occur, without hunger.
Diabetes type 2 reversal
A ketogenic diet is excellent for reversing type 2 diabetes since it lowers blood sugar levels and the negative impact of high insulin levels.
Improved mental focus
Ketosis results in a steady flow of fuel (ketones) to the brain. And on a ketogenic diet, you avoid big swings in blood sugar. This often results in the experience of increased focus and improved concentration.
A lot of people specifically use keto diets specifically for increased mental performance.
Increased physical endurance
Ketogenic diets can vastly increase your physical endurance, by giving you constant access to all the energy of your fat stores.
The body’s supply of stored carbohydrates (glycogen) only lasts for a couple of hours of intense exercise or less. But your fat stores carry enough energy to easily last for weeks or even months e.t.c
What To Eat When On A Keto Diet
The most important thing to reach ketosis is to avoid eating most carbohydrates. You’ll probably need to keep carb intake to under 50 grams per day of net carbs ideally below 20 grams. The fewer carbs the more effective.
This means you’ll need to completely avoid sweet sugary foods, plus starchy foods like bread, pasta, rice and potatoes. Basically follow the guidelines for a strict low-carb diet, and remember it’s supposed to be high in fat, not high in protein.
Signs You Are In Ketosis
- Dry Mouth and Increased Thirst. Unless you drink enough and get enough electrolytes, like salt, you may feel a dry mouth. Try a cup of bouillon or two daily, plus as much water as you need.
- Increased Urination – another ketone body, acetoacetate, can end up in the urine. This makes it possible to test for ketosis using urine strips. It also – at least when starting out – can result in having to go to the bathroom more often. This is the main cause of the increased thirst (above).
- Keto Breath – this is due to a ketone body called acetone escaping via our breath. It can make a person’s breath smell “fruity”, or similar to nail polish remover. This smell can sometimes also be felt from sweat when working out. It’s often temporary.
Other, less specific but more positive signs include:
- Reduced hunger – many people experience a marked reduction in hunger. This may possibly be caused by an increased ability of the body to be fueled by its fat stores. Many people feel great while eating just once or twice a day, automatically ending up doing a form of intermittent fasting. This saves both time and money, while also speeding up weight loss.
- Increased energy – perhaps after a few days of feeling tired (the “keto flu“) many people experience a clear increase in energy levels. This can also be experienced as clear thinking, a lack of “brain fog” or even as a sense of euphoria.
How To Achieve Ketosis
- Restrict carbohydrates to 20 digestible grams per day or less – a strict low-carb diet. Fiber does not have to be restricted, it might even be beneficial
- Restrict protein to moderate levels. If possible stay at or below 1 gram of protein per day, per kg of body weight. So about 70 grams of protein per day if you weigh 70 kilos (154 pounds). It might be beneficial to lower protein intake even more, especially when overweight, and then aim for 1 gram of protein per kg of desired weight. The most common mistake that stops people from reaching optimal ketosis is too much protein.
- Eat enough fat to feel satisfied. This is the big difference between a ketogenic diet and starvation, that also results in ketosis. A ketogenic diet is sustainable, starvation is not.
- Avoid snacking when not hungry. Unnecessary snacking slows weight loss and reduces ketosis.
- If necessary add intermittent fasting, like 16:8. This is very effective at boosting ketone levels, as well as accelerating weight loss and type 2 diabetes reversal.
Potential Side Effects Of The Ketogenic Diet
Induction flu, Leg Cramps,Constipation, Bad Breath, Hearts Palpitations, Reduced Physical Performance, Keto Rash, Temporary Hair Loss, Reduced Tolerance To Alcohol and Elevated Cholestrol
Who Should Not Do A Keto Diet
Most people can safely do a ketogenic diet. But in these three situations you may need extra preparation or adaptation:
Do you want to eat a low-carb diet while breastfeeding? It can be an excellent way to lose excess weight, while still eating all the nutritious foods that you and your baby needs.
However, you should not eat a strict low-carb diet, as it can – in extremely rare cases – be potentially dangerous when breastfeeding. To be safe choose a more moderate low-carb diet, with at least 50 grams of carbs per day.
In a normal situation people can eat as few carbs as they want – the body can handle it. But when breastfeeding you lose sugar via the milk, possibly around 30 grams per day, sometimes more.
Not eating carbohydrates in this situation can possibly lead to a dangerous condition called ketoacidosis, in rare cases. If you’re breastfeeding you should not do a strict low-carb diet. You need to add some more carbs to be safe.
Patients With Blood Pressure-
If you’re on blood pressure medication and start a low-carb diet there’s a risk of getting low blood pressure. You may relatively quickly become too healthy for your medication.
This blood pressure lowering effect on low carb can happen within days, but it may also take months or even a year to reach full effect.
If you feel weak, tired, dizzy etc. you should check your blood pressure. If it’s low, e.g. below 120/80, you should contact your doctor to discuss lowering or stopping your medication.
A Keto dieat can start to reverse your type 2 diabetes, and dramatically increase your blood sugar control with type 1 diabetes.
However, you need to know what you are doing. Once you start eating low carb you may instantly have to lower any insulin doses, a lot.
Avoiding the carbohydrates that raise your blood sugar decreases your need for medication to lower it. Taking the same dose of insulin as you did prior to adopting a low-carb diet might result in hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
You need to test your blood sugar frequently when starting this diet and adapt (lower) your medication. This should ideally be done with the assistance of a knowledgeable physician.
Culled from doctordiet.com