What is The Ketogenic Diet?
Your diet is perhaps the most important factor controlling your health and well-being. Sure, other factors do play a role, but diet is the linchpin of the incredibly complex human biology. So, if you are trying to get rid of those love handles or get back in shape, a good diet can take your efforts to the next level.
But the question is:
What is the best diet for weight loss?
Well, as it turns out, a ketogenic diet (or keto diet) is one of the most effective nutritional strategies to lose weight and improve overall health. Multiple scientific studies have backed up this notion time and again. Consequently, it is rapidly taking over the health and fitness world and millions of people swear by it.
If you are new to the whole 'keto' thing, you may have millions of questions swirling in your head. But finding definitive, unbiased and easy to understand answers to them can be difficult.
Well, that's where we come in. In this article, we are going to answer all the questions you may have about keto diet and then some. And while we are at it, we are also going to learn some cool and exciting facts about your body as well. So, let's get going!
What is a Ketogenic Diet?
It is an obvious question that needs to be answered before anything else. In a nutshell, a ketogenic diet is a diet that is very low in carbohydrates.
You see, any food you eat contains three major nutrients that provide you the bulk of the energy (or calories) that you need. These three major nutrients (also called macronutrients) are:
Anything that you eat will contain all of these three macronutrients in varying proportions. A typical diet usually contains a higher proportion of carbohydrates and lower proportions of proteins or fats. A ketogenic diet, on the other hand, limits the number of carbohydrates to a minimum.
Traditionally, a keto diet allows you to eat 20-30 grams of carbs each day. The exact proportion of carbs, fats, and proteins will vary depending on your current health status and what you want to achieve.
That said, a standard keto diet has 70-80% of the daily calories supplied by fats, 15-20% provided by proteins and the rest by carbs; which is around 5%.
Compared to other 'low-carb' diets, a keto diet does not overload your body with proteins, and there is a good reason for that. When you limit the intake of carbs in your diet, proteins can be converted to glucose in your body via the process known as gluconeogenesis. If this happens in considerable amounts, the whole point of a low-carb diet is moot! Hence, a keto diet relies on fats to give you most of the energy you need.
What are The Benefits of a Keto Diet?
The obvious advantage of a keto diet is that your body starts burning the stored fat and you can lose weight quickly. However, a keto diet has many other long-term benefits as well. Many studies conducted with low carbohydrate diets have indicated plenty of health benefits that go beyond just weight loss.
Here are some of the most significant health benefits of a keto diet.
So, there is a ton of evidence about the benefits of the ketogenic diet, but it has its fair share of controversies as well. Many people believe that the risks associated with a strict ketogenic diet should not be overlooked for the sake of dropping a few extra pounds.
Some of the most common criticisms regarding the ketogenic diet include the following.
What are Carbohydrates and Their Role in The Body?
As we saw earlier, a ketogenic diet limits the amount of carbohydrates that you can consume. But, what are these carbohydrates and what do they do in your body?
Chemically speaking, all carbohydrates are molecules that contain three elements- carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen.
These are often called energy molecules as the body can generate energy by metabolizing them in the cells.
Carbohydrates can range from simple carbohydrates such as glucose or fructose to highly complex carbohydrates such as starch and glycogen. Carbohydrates are sometimes also referred to as 'saccharides' as most of them have a varying intensity of sweet taste. Depending on their chemical structure, carbohydrates are classified into the following categories.
Ketogenic Food List
So, you need to limit the intake of carbs in your diet. But as you just saw, almost anything and everything has carbs in it, right? Well, not really.
As it turns out, there are many healthy alternatives to carbs that will provide you with all the energy you need without spiking your insulin and blood glucose levels.
Remember, a ketogenic diet requires you to replace the calories coming from carbs with the calories coming from proteins and healthy fats. So, there are a ton of options for you, don't worry!
Here is a ketogenic food list that you can include in your keto diet. You can eat the following high fat, low carb foods freely
Alcohol on a Ketogenic Diet
One of the more common questions about a keto diet is whether alcohol and ketosis mix.
The answer to this question is not as straightforward as you may think. Your body can use alcohol as a fuel to generate energy; just like it uses glucose.
Hence, when you consume alcohol during a ketogenic diet, assuming you picked a low carb beverage, your body burns off the alcohol instead of the fat.
Now, the impact of this phenomenon on your weight loss can vary depending on the individual.
I know some people who have little effect of consuming small amounts of alcohol occasionally on their weight loss. However, I also know a few individuals who experience a complete halt in their weight loss as soon as they consume alcohol.
So, there is not a simple answer to the question.
What is Ketosis?
The ketogenic diet is an excellent way to get your weight down and get back in shape. Over the years, this approach has been refined, validated and used by millions to get rid of their body fat safely and efficiently.
But what does a keto diet do to your body?
Well, to answer these questions, we will have to dig just a little deeper into the physiology of the human body. Don't worry; I am going to keep it as easy to understand as I can!
So, to figure out what is the effect of the keto diet on your body, let's see what the term 'keto' means. It is a short form of the word 'ketosis.' It is a healthy state of your body when most of the energy is not coming through burning glucose, but through burning what are called 'ketone bodies.'
What are Ketones?
Ketones or Ketone bodies are fuel molecules just like glucose that the cells of your body can use to generate energy. But the most interesting thing about them is that they are produced by burning the stored fat in your body.
You see, when you are fasting, there is no supply of glucose from the diet to use. But your body, especially your brain, needs a lot of energy to function. So, there is a mechanism in place to convert the stored fat in the body to ketone bodies that can be used to generate energy. It is the reason why your body stores fat in the first place!
When you consume a diet that is very low in carbohydrates and moderate in proteins a.k.a a ketogenic diet, the body assumes that you are fasting and initiates the ketosis process. It is called metabolic ketosis as your body is burning off fat due to the lack of glucose in your blood.
However, metabolic ketosis should not be confused with diabetic ketosis. In the case of a diabetic ketosis, there is a lot of glucose in the blood, but due to insulin resistance, the body can't use the glucose and relies on burning ketone bodies instead. This type of ketosis is horrible for your body. It can create a ton of problems and is one of the worst nightmares in managing diabetes.
How do You Enter The State of Ketosis?
Your body enters a state of ketosis if you fast for about 3-4 days. It forces the body to rely on ketone bodies for energy, and it makes them by burning the stored fat.
Many so-called tips and tricks promise a faster way to enter the state of ketosis. However, the best way to achieve ketosis is through proper diet. There is no short cut or a gimmick that can take you there.
You can enter ketosis if you follow the following guidelines:
How do You Know If You are in Ketosis?
So, you are doing everything right. You have limited your carb intake as well. But how do you tell whether you have entered the coveted ketosis phase?
Well, it is not that difficult to tell if you are in ketosis. The best and most definitive way to answering this question is using blood or a urine test strip. You can use these strips at home, and they can tell you whether you have entered ketosis or not.
While the urine strips are less accurate compared to the blood strips, they are less costly as well.
Breath testing is another option. It is more accurate than urine testing but less accurate than blood testing. You can read our Ketonix Breath tester review here.
If you are not interested in testing your urine, breath or blood, there is an alternative way as well. Many signs can indicate that your body is in a state of ketosis. These signs will tell you whether you are on the right track or not.
What to Expect on a Keto Diet?
A ketogenic diet is one of the best ways to lose weight, but it can be a bit overwhelming in the beginning. However, if you know what to expect when you are on a ketogenic diet, managing the temporary side effects can be easier.
When your body enters ketosis, it is undergoing a significant change in the most fundamental way possible. It is only natural for the body to reach to this change that you are imposing on it before it gets used to it.
There are certain ways in which your body is going to respond to your ketogenic diet. Some of these ways can have quite an unpleasant effect as well.
However, there is good news:
These effects are only transitional. Once your body adapts the "keto way" you will see these effects fade away and you will have more energy than ever before.
In the meanwhile, you can see some so-called side effects of a ketogenic diet. Let's see what they are.
Famous People Who Like Keto
The effectiveness of a keto diet has turned many famous people into die hard keto fans. From movie stars to professional athletes, everyone seems to sing high praise of this amazing diet.
Some of the most beautiful women in the entertainment industry swear by the keto diet. Megan Fox, Adriana Lima, and even Kim Kardashian follow a ketogenic diet to stay in shape and keep up the energy for their busy schedule.
Some of the most successful professional athletes also follow a keto diet. LeBron James and Kobe Bryant are among the many pro basketball players who found that low-carb, high-fat diet helped them add that extra oomph to their game.
The point of mentioning all these celebrities is this:
The keto diet works! Just imagine, all these famous people have all the resources at their disposal. They have the best experts advising them. If they think that something works, theremust be some truth to it, wouldn't you think?
Again, I am not saying that you should start a keto diet just because LeBron James is on it or Megan Fox is on it, but the fact that they are is kind of a big deal! Don't you agree?
Besides, there is a ton of scientific evidence that supports the keto diet. So, it does not need any celebrity endorsements in the first place!
Something to Take Home
People who are trying to lose weight and get back in shape often don't realize the impact a good diet has on their efforts. While they are ready to immerse themselves into all kinds of exercise routines, they pay little attention to their diet. As several research papers have pointed out, exercise or health supplements alone just don't work if they are not complemented with a good diet. And a keto diet has the potential to transform your body like never before.
So, there you have it, this is everything, well almost everything, that you need to know about the ketogenic diet! It is quite a smart strategy if you think about it, isn't it? Once your body transforms from a 'fat-conserving mode' to a 'fat burning mode,' dropping those pounds is not that difficult!
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Stay healthy and keep at it! Till the next time!