Does The Keto Diet Work?
Happy Monday Holistic Fam! I wanted to touch on a subject that I’ve been researching for a while now to answer the following question: Does the keto diet work? I am personally not in favour of fad diets that promise the world of wonders to users but for some reason, the ketogenic diet has stuck in my mind for a while.
The Ketogenic diet, regarded by advocates as one of the most profound health boosting lifestyle changes for effortless weight loss, has been used for a number of different purposes since it was first discovered. The relatively carb-free diet has become popular among Western society, for its ability to produce dramatic results, not only in regards to weight loss but other lifestyle factors as well.
What is the ketogenic diet?
The Keto diet is a way of eating which emphasizes a very low carbohydrate intake and high fat intake, with a low to moderate protein intake. The ideal daily dietary ratio is made up of 5% carbohydrates, 15% protein and 80% fat.
The aim of the diet that eliminates carbohydrates almost completely is to induce a metabolic state within the body known as ketosis. It is in this state where the dramatic body composition changes occur.
Surprisingly this popular weight loss diet originated in 1921. It was at this time that the Keto diet was first used as a treatment for epilepsy. Research at the time indicated that when patients diagnosed with severe epilepsy dramatically reduced their carbohydrate intake and better controlled their blood sugar level, the number of seizures they experienced reduced. In some cases, these seizures stopped completely.
Since then, the diet has recently been adopted as a weight loss diet with the aim of achieving rapid results. The idea behind this comes from the body’s ability to switch to using stored fat as an energy source, thus burning the fat.
What to eat while on a keto diet
The recommended amount of carbohydrates to consume while on the ketogenic diet is 20g or less per day. All sources of natural fat, both saturated and unsaturated, are encouraged. All sources of protein are also allowed while on the diet as long as protein intake doesn’t exceed the daily recommended amount.
This includes meat, fish and seafood, eggs, natural fat, nuts and high-fat dairy. Berries and vegetables growing above ground, such as broccoli and cauliflower, are also allowed as a part of the diet provided that the total amount of carbs consumed is less than 20g.
The diet emphasizes the consumption of natural foods and removes processed foods from your eating plan. This level of natural foods provides a good amount of vitamins and minerals which may have previously been absent from the diet due to not following a specific plan.
What not to eat and what to avoid
Vegetables growing underground, such as potatoes and carrots, as well as any kind of fruit apart from berries, are not allowed. Any other food containing carbohydrates including pasta, oatmeal and rice cannot be eaten. The Ketogenic diet is also marketed as a healthy diet. So any junk food or foods high in sugar aren’t allowed either. While all sources of fat are encouraged on the diet, it is also recommended that you choose healthier options and ensure that your entire diet isn’t made up of saturated fats alone.
While many additional supplements are geared towards people following a Ketogenic diet to support good health and even increase weight loss results, even more, many of the diet experts suggest avoiding these additions.
How does the Keto diet work?
To break down how the keto diet works, it is important to understand the process of how energy is used in the body. The traditional energy system makes use of the energy received from carbohydrates while the energy system activated while on the Keto diet is received from fat.
When humans consume carbohydrates, these carbohydrates supply the body with glucose, which is used primarily for energy or stored in the liver as glycogen, which can be released again as glucose when the brain and other tissues require energy. The body is, however, unable to store enough glucose to last more than 1-3 days without food, meaning that it needs a backup system in order to avoid passing out and ultimately dying in the absence of food.
How the body functions without carbs
The body’s backup energy system is the same system of producing energy that is utilised when following the Keto diet. It works to eliminate the body’s natural source of glycogen – carbohydrates. In doing that, the body is able to make changes so that is no longer requires glycogen for energy.
The aim of the ketogenic diet is to leverage the body’s metabolic flexibility by extracting energy from the fat we consume as well as the fat our body has stored. After having done this for 2-3 days, the body will enter into a state of ketosis.
Ketosis is the body’s backup energy system. It occurs when the glycogen stores in the liver become depleted, resulting in the production of ketone bodies, a product of the incomplete breakdown of fat. It is once the ratio of ketone production exceeds the use that the body enters the ketosis state.
Entering into and staying in ketosis is the ultimate aim when following the diet. However, it is worth noting that ketosis is defined, in the medical field, as an undesirably high concentration of ketone bodies in the blood and urine.
Benefits of the keto diet
Weight loss: The most popular use of the diet and one of the biggest health benefits that have been witnessed is weight loss. Due to the fact that the body is using fat to fuel not only its cellular functions but the various activities you do throughout the day, rapid weight loss results are shown to accompany the ketogenic diet.
Reduced appetite: Another major benefit of the Keto diet, which also aids in the weight loss, is the reduction of appetite that accompanies it. Foods that are high in fat have a tendency to result in prolonged satiation. These high-fat foods trigger the release of chemicals which signal that you are satisfied, meaning that your appetite will be reduced and you will feel less hungry or inclined to snack for no reason.
Endurance athletes: While more research is yet to be conducted, many endurance athletes have switched from a more old-fashioned supplementary diet – “carb loading”, to the Keto diet. The Keto diet is said to improve the performance of endurance athletes as their bodies are able to better manage the energy they require to perform for an extended period of time.
Dangers of the diet
The keto diet is said to be potentially harmful to people who have suffered from heart disease. The high-fat nature of the diet shows the potential to aggravate the heart disease, especially if care over saturated and unsaturated fat isn’t given. The diet is also not recommended for those who have a history of eating disorders or those who experience obsessive behaviour towards food. At the end of the day, the Keto diet is extremely restrictive. It cuts out almost 2 entire food groups.
This pattern of eating may lead to possible deficiencies of vitamin C, vitamin A, selenium, potassium, fibre and other essential micronutrients. Removing two entire food groups screams deficiency. Especially if the dieter lacks education on the recommended dietary intake for each nutrient.
As I’ve mentioned so many times, I don’t believe in restrictive dieting. I think that the keto diet isn’t one that should really be followed for general weight loss. It may provide you with fast results but at the end of the day, you need to be able to maintain it. I just don’t believe that this restrictive way of eating can be maintained over the long term. I have seen various people using the diet. One example is using the diet to shred fat for a bikini show.
In this case, I feel like keto may have its place as generally bikini competitors know that maintaining their stage body all year round isn’t something that they can do. Therefore they’re not expecting to maintain the results they get from keto all year round and aren’t likely to continue to use it.
I personally would try the diet to experiment with what happens. I’d love to see how the keto diet work s. I want to see what all the hype is about. If I ever do I would probably record it for my YouTube channel that I’m yet to start. But it’s not something I would seriously consider as a solution to changing my body composition.
Let me know what your thoughts are on the keto diet in the comments section. I would love to read all your different views and opinions!