One of the most popular diets today is the ketogenic diet (aka the ketogenic diet). This diet has been around for a long time and used to help children with epilepsy, but it has recently become the latest weight loss trend. Here’s what you need to know before you start filling your plate with high-fat foods and drastically restricting your carbs.
A ketogenic diet is essentially a very low-carb, moderate-protein, and high-fat diet that puts the body into a metabolic state called ketosis. In a state of ketosis, the body no longer uses carbohydrates (especially glucose) for energy, but instead converts fats into what are called ketone bodies in order to provide the body with energy. Once your body uses ketones for fuel, you’re in a state called ketosis. Proponents of the program claim that ketosis can provide many health benefits, including weight loss, increased energy, and enhanced physical and mental performance.
What You’ll Be Eating
The general ratio of nutrients in a ketogenic diet is:
- Fat: 70% of calories
- Protein: 25% of calories
- Carbs: 5% of calories
On a ketogenic diet, you’ll eliminate grains (yes, even whole grains), fruits, starchy vegetables, legumes, and sugar. Instead, you’ll have lots of meat, leafy greens and other non-starchy vegetables, high-fat dairy products (think cream and butter), nuts and seeds, avocados, butter, coconut oil, and high-fat salad dressings on your plate. If you need sweeteners, you’ll have to rely on low-carb options like stevia, erythritol (a sugar alcohol), and monk fruit.
Some of the negative effects of being in ketosis include constipation, muscle loss, decreased energy, bad breath, leg cramps, and even the “keto flu,” which usually occurs in the first few weeks after a diet. Headache, nausea, difficulty concentrating, and trouble sleeping are also frequently reported.
In ketogenic diet, you are also at risk of developing ketoacidosis, a chronically acidic state of the body that can cause headaches, fatigue, irritability, and possibly even organ damage and be fatal.
It is important to remember that this diet was originally developed as a medical intervention for epilepsy under the supervision of a medically trained professional. With so much food restriction, you’re also at risk for key vitamin and mineral deficiencies, so it’s recommended that you take a multivitamin and mineral supplement while following your plan.
Another question that is often raised is the long-term impact. However, no human studies have examined the long-term effects of the keto diet, or the long-term effects of being in a state of ketosis.
While weight loss appears to be a major benefit of following this plan, when you cut out large food groups, you’re not fully meeting your body’s needs to stay healthy. In addition, severe cuts to major food groups are difficult to sustain over the long term, and when it comes to changing lifestyles, sustainability is key.
While the program encourages both good and bad fats, it encourages a high intake of saturated fat, which increases blood cholesterol and the risk of heart disease. If you’re looking for a quick fix for quick weight loss, keto will work – but take my word for it, you’ll most likely be back to your old eating patterns (weight back to where you started) pretty quickly.