Keto Diet: Does It Really Work?
Today, people are going crazy about getting fit and healthy. It is the current trend and this does not only hold true for women, men are also into this active and healthy lifestyle. Aside from involving in sports and other rigorous activities, there are lots of diets that are designed for different people. An example would be the zone diet which deals with fat, protein and carbohydrate-balance in one meal. Atkins, on the other hand, is another approach centered on the control of insulin levels in the body.
A very popular diet, which is coined, the ketogenic (keto) diet is being followed by teenagers and young adults. Why it is the most popular? Simply because there are over a million Google searches for “keto diet” each month. Not only that, it has non-stop sharing over social media about its success stories making it enticing to people who want to lose weight and look or feel good about themselves. Ideally, this is designed specifically for individuals who need a healthy fat meal with low carbohydrate levels. The purpose of such diet is basically to lose weight among different types of people. But the main question that people ask – does this diet work?
The keto diet: the “in” thing
The keto diet, as what most people know it, is actually a low carbohydrate and high-fat diet which signals the body to go less on the carbohydrates and then induce the entire body to go in a state of ketosis. Ketosis, is that metabolic state which has high levels of ketone bodies in the tissues of the entire body system. This happens when a person eats a very low carbohydrate diet. A low glycemic therapy, this state of ketosis then results into steady or unchanging glucose levels/ranges. To explain it simply, it cuts down the hunger pangs and increase satiety when eating.
For beginners, a health tracker is needed to check if they are already in the state of ketosis. Eventually, the body gets tuned to the diet and anyone who has been on it for months can easily detect if they are already in that desired state.
What are the usual components of a ketogenic meal?
A typical keto meal has the following:
- Protein: A person who chooses this diet needs protein to keep going but only in moderate quantities. Medical experts highly suggest eating organic and grass fed meat as this is healthier, as compared to processed meat. This way, you would know that there are less to zero synthetic substances incorporated to the feeds of such animals.
- Dairy products: Dairy will always be part of any healthy meal. For this particular diet, full fat dairy food is recommended. Nutritionists suggest the intake of hard cheeses as these are known to have very low carbohydrate levels. Including this type of cheese in your keto meal plan does not only make the entire diet work, but adds appetite.
- Fats and oils: Many people think that these types of food are not healthy, but if you go organic, fats and oils derived from nuts and meat are healthy. If you do not have these, alternatives such as olive oil, coconut oil or even butter can suffice to the diet’s needs.
- Seeds, nuts and legumes: Nuts are essential not only for flavor, but a source of healthy fat for the heart or entire cardiovascular system. Almonds, seeds and macadamia nuts are known to have raised fat content and essential to those who want to shed off some kilograms fast!
- Leafy green vegetables: Almost every diet needs some greens and keto sure puts this on top of the list. Green, leafy vegetables are known to have low carbohydrate content, as well as cucumbers, broccoli and zucchini. Above-ground vegetables are usually top picks when it comes to a keto meal.
- Beverages: Hydration is part of any meal and as for this diet, water is the best drink ever. It does not contain artificial flavorings, nor synthetics keeping your body void of toxins. To add some variety in your drinks, infusing water with lemon, lime or orange is okay.
A usual “keto day” looks like this:
Breakfast – two fried eggs and sautéed green, leafy vegetables
Lunch – steamed chicken breast on a bed of green vegetables sprinkled with grated parmesan cheese
Snack – almonds and trail mix
Dinner – Pork chops with cauliflower rice, red salsa and cheese
The food in every keto meal is whole and usually organic, and very appealing to those who want to make it work effectively. There are no synthetic additives and each ingredient is measured accordingly. But it does not have to be boring when it comes to food selection. Aside from the three major meals in a day, healthy snacks in between are a MUST! These are as follows:
- Hard boiled eggs
- Avocado on toast or with chocolate mousse
- Beef jerky
- Unsweetened coffee
- Smoothie (top recipes include coco milk, avocado and chocolate!)
- Kale chips
- Green salad and avocado cream or with a preferred fat dressing
- Berries and whipped cream
- Pecan nuts
- Chicken salad plus avocado
- Unsweetened green tea
What is this diet good for?
On a clinical point of view, the keto diet is perfect for diabetic patients and those who need a positive impact on weight loss management and overall metabolic health status. Aside from that, medical experts find this diet effective for the treatment of epileptic patients even before the production of anti-seizure medicines. Medical professionals have been using keto since the 1920s.
According to different studies, the keto diet has positive applications especially on immune-compromised patients such as colorectal cancer. Following a keto diet helps in averting the onset of cachexia. This delays the start of tumor formation and shows positive effects on an individual’s lipid profiles. In a certain study, it was found out that a diet restricted with carbohydrates and supplemented with omega 3 fatty acids hindered the development or growth of some glucose fermenting tumors. Though this diet is not stand alone as it must be used in conjunction with chemotherapy and radiation for effectiveness.
Dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease are the top targets for the keto diet. It helps delay brain aging, as well as improve memory functioning in old people. Nutritional ketosis is very important in preserving cognitive functioning.
For the women, keto diet works wonders with those having polycystic ovary syndrome or better known as PCOS. They are most likely to develop obesity and diabetes mellitus.
Keto diet works but not for everyone
But to reiterate the essence of the keto diet, it is clearly not for everyone. Individuals who have type 1 Diabetes Mellitus (DM) are barred from even trying this diet as it may result to coma (diabetic coma) or in worst cases, death. Though in some cases, the keto diet helped reverse and treat type 2 diabetes mellitus. A valuable medical advice that experts give is to take precautions in following this particular diet while taking prescribed medications. This is because when you lose weight and even change the regular diet, medications for diabetes need to be adjusted. So don’t self-medicate and have a doctor supervise your intake.
Those having thyroid disorders may benefit well with a low carbohydrate diet, but putting them on a very low carbohydrate diet such as the keto diet may worsen the symptoms they are already having. These individuals may have trouble sleeping, as well as brain fog and mood change.
Having kidney disease is an unfortunate life already so don’t go keto anymore to complicate things. Some doctors may put you in a low carbohydrate diet but they make sure to check on your creatinine and urine calcium ratio. If your family has a long history of kidney problems, its best to choose another diet as prescribed by your doctor.
Two serious contraindications to keto diet are called porphyria and pyruvate carboxylase deficiency. If you happen to have any of these, just don’t risk it. Why? A deficiency of particular enzymes will make it hard in metabolizing lots of free fatty acids before passing it to the mitochondria (to make energy). Complications will occur such as mental problems, irregular heartbeats and a progressive decline on the entire nervous system.
Aside from individuals having certain conditions, competitive athletes may respond differently with the keto diet. For some athletes, it improves their performance only after enough fat-adaptation period has passed. Joining a big race on the following week is not a good time to go on a keto diet. But for those who really want to follow this diet, there are specific types such as the cyclical keto diet which needs to be discussed thoroughly by health experts.
Pregnant and nursing women should also not try to go keto because of the side effects such as anemia, dehydration, constipation and hormonal imbalance. These women also need high fiber and protein intake to support the growth and development of the fetus. So a keto diet will only put their lives at risk.
Individuals who are already underweight should not follow this keto trend just to be part of the “cool group”. Those who have vitamin and mineral deficiencies must never partake in the keto diet as this will only make the body weak and unhealthy. Following a moderate diet with complex carbohydrates plus lots of healthy proteins and fats may work best with individuals who lose weight easily.
How to assess if going keto is effective for a certain individual
Since the keto diet is not a fit-for-all type of diet, you need to ask yourself WHY you need it. That way, you will have no regrets once on the diet. Setting goals ahead of time, helps in making this diet work effectively. Aside from that, you may have a family history of cardiovascular disease which you want to reduce the risk of acquiring. Once the goals are set, implementing such diet can begin.
- Weight Loss
Keto diet is currently being used as an aid in losing weight due to the effects on fat loss. According to research, women who are fit and healthy shed off weight more on this low carbohydrate diet than a low fat diet. This basically works when the keto lowers the insulin and blood sugar levels. This then promotes fat loss and eventually, lowers food cravings by a great deal.
- Minimal to zero Inflammation
As studies show, ketosis tends to lower inflammation in the body. This diet helps lower blood sugar, as well as the reactive oxygen species or ROS. Aside from that, it increases adenosine, which is the natural anti-inflammatory chemical in the body. The beta-hydroxybutyrate or BHB in the body (main energy ketone) also signals the inflammasome to relax. So technically, following a keto diet helps in even blocking inflammation in the body system.
- Healthy Brain
If you want to improve your cognition, having a desirable amount of ketones in the body helps in fueling it. Ketones are better than sugar or glucose. These boost the powerhouse of the cell (mitochondria) and often a therapy used for Alzheimer’s disease.
- Optimum Physical Activity
Endurance athletes are proven to perform well when trained in a state of ketosis. This has been tested since the 1980s. So if you fall under this category, following a keto diet will be beneficial to you. Fat will be burned instead of your glucose levels. The process thereby helps in keeping muscle glycogen preserved to the time when you need it the most.
- Medical Conditions
Sometimes, being in a keto diet does not function for a person’s fit and healthy lifestyle. It can be used to treat or alleviate certain illnesses that different individuals face each day. The keto diet has helped lower seizures of epileptic kids and adults. It also lowered anxiety levels and protect the brain from serious injuries. Ongoing research show that the keto diet may have a major role in treating Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
If your healthcare professional gives you a go signal to follow the keto diet, make sure you make space for at least four full weeks of fat adaptation period. Avoiding processed food is a must and taking electrolytes help keep keto flu symptoms at bay. To prevent nutrient deficiencies, it is best to have a large intake of spinach, broccoli, kale and all other non-starchy vegetables. Indulge in healthy fats such as almonds, fatty fish, avocados and grass-fed butter. Approximately 30% of calories is needed so stock up on more protein.
The ketogenic diet is a complex type and needs a total or even drastic change of eating habits. That is why if you are really sold out in trying it to lose weight, prepare ahead of time. This diet does not work overnight (as with the other types of diets). See a certified dietician or get your medical doctor’s advice first. Be on the safe side and do a lot of research before following this particular diet.
People have unique genetic makeup
If following the keto nutritional approach leads to no effect on your health, then maybe it is not the diet for you. Remember, each person is unique. The lifestyle that you have may not sync in well with the keto diet. Aside from that, each person has a different preference or taste so there must be another diet that will suit your body best.
Regardless of the differences, people must still stick to eating healthy and most importantly, organic food. Avoiding junk is key to have a healthy and longer life span in this world. Fast and processed foods should not be made first priority and it is better to cook your own food. Keto diet has tremendous benefits but it is not the only diet in the world! What works for others may not necessarily work out for you so choose a diet wisely. Try something different and who knows? Another nutritional approach may make your body strong and healthy.
As always, with the fast development of science and technology, seek advice and assessment from medical professionals if you wish to partake in any sensitive diet. Don’t put your life on the line as a misaligned diet may only make things worse. Pack your meals everyday with whole and real food rich in protein, healthy fats, fiber and vitamins and minerals. Hydrate as well so that the body will not be dehydrated even from the diet itself.
Live a healthy and balanced life not just by making sure you are eating the right types of food, but also involve yourself in physical exercises. As what experts always say, no diet works if you don’t do physical activities. Do away with the sedentary lifestyle and sweat those calories away! We only have one life to live and it should definitely be lived to the fullest J