High-fat foods have a bad rap in society. They are often described as non-healthy because they will increase your cholesterol levels, which in turn can contribute to heart attacks and other diseases. The ketogenic diet suggests otherwise.
Low-carb eating styles, on the other hand, are nothing new when it comes to weight management. And on the top of that, the ketogenic diet, is a kind of low-carb eating style, with a twist that focuses on eating mainly fats.
What is keto
The keto diet was developed during the 1920s for epilepsy treatment. Research has shown many positive effects on human body, in addition to helping with epilepsy. The research also clearly shows that the keto diet is one of the most effective dietary approaches for encouraging fat loss.
The keto diet by its nature is super simple: it’s a very low carb, adequate protein and high-fat way of eating. Why low carb? Because removing carbs from your daily menu will force your body find new sources of energy—fat sources. Most of your daily menu will be based on fats. The ketogenic diet macronutrients ratio is 80% fat, 15% protein and up to 5% carbohydrates.
This metabolic state where the magic starts to happen is called ketosis. Ketosis is a state where the body’s main energy supply comes from ketone bodies in the blood. Ketosis is the very state you want to be if your dream is to get rid of those excess pounds that have been bugging you. In order to transition your body into ketosis, you need to go very low carb. The amount of carbs depends whether you are just starting out or already fat-adapted. If you are just starting out, we would suggest to cut down your carbs as low as a maximum of 20 grams per day.
Filling your menu with keto friendly foods is the foundation of the effective journey. Good fats are the most important part of the keto diet. They include meat and fatty fish, coconut oil, ghee, butter, avocado, cheese and so on. Then other parts of your diet regimen are leafy and crunchy veggies like kale, broccoli, celery.
Weight management—This is the biggest benefit: a sustainable way of eating and losing fat at the same time. As a bonus, you have very low levels of cravings, if any at all. Low carb diets seem to be particularly effective up to 6 months, because after that people tend to give up and start eating the same old things. This is why the keto diet is more as a lifestyle choice, not a crash diet. By consuming more fat and fewer carbs during your diet, your body will start using the stored body fat as an alternative energy source.
Appetite control—Following the keto diet, has been proven to be linked to a reduction in appetite. This leads to fewer calorie intake and better weight management (also helps with binge eating).
Mental performance—The second big reason why many people love the keto diet, is its ability to improve brain function, cognitive skills and clarity of thought. The main problem with carbs is that they cause your blood sugar levels to rise and fall. Carbs as an energy source aren’t consistent, it makes it harder for your brain to stay focused for long periods of time, it also often can be the reason for mood swings. There are many scientific studies which confirm the positive effect of being in ketosis to your cognition abilities.
Increased levels of good cholesterol —HDL is the good type of cholesterol which carries cholesterol away from the body to the liver where it will be reused or excreted. It is also a well-known fact, that the higher levels of HDL, the lower your risk of heart diseases will be.
Stable energy levels—Anyone coming from standard western diet to a ketogenic diet will experience a drastic difference in energy levels. This is because you don’t have blood sugar spikes, that you had previously thanks to cheap carbs. Typically, by day 3-5 on a keto diet, most people report an increase in energy levels and lack of nasty cravings, if any at all. Fat is a way more stable source of energy, that’s why once fat adapted, you can easily go half a day without food and you would not feel drastic energy level swings.
Consistency—The ketogenic eating style is a highly effective way to manage weight and improve overall health (cognitive abilities, illness treatment, etc.), as long as you can stick to it. Like with any other diet, all of them work if you can fit them into your life and consistently follow them. There are no cheat-days in ketogenic eating style. You cannot hit pause, eat pizza and continue with keto. You either are in ketosis or not, otherwise, you are forcing a low-carb diet on yourself, which probably are not providing results you are looking for. There are definitely many ways to enter ketosis again if you fall off the wagon, but the key point here is that you should be consistent if you want to rock keto.
Keto flu—Like with many other big eating changes, there are some potential side effects with keto also. Going keto cold turkey is definitely not easy for newcomers. Most people will experience some side effects called the keto flu. Keto flu can include headaches, general weakness during the adaption phase, and some moodiness. These side effects usually last around 3 to 7 days, after what you will be as good as new. This is just part of the process of entering ketosis.
Fiber—One big part, what keto diet truly lacks is the fiber intake. Because you will cut out all the grains and carbs (often main fiber sources), your menu will lack fiber which can, in turn, express in constipation or digestion problems. This is something to take into account and prepare for. The fix is actually very simple, just make sure that you are eating enough fiber-rich foods (e.g. avocado) and take supplemental fiber if needed.
At the end of the day, ketogenic lifestyle is no magic bullet which will fix all your problems. It is an effective eating style which often requires lifestyle changes and consistency, but also provides fast results and a lot of benefits. If you have struggled with weight management in your past or are looking for ways to improve your mental and physical performance, then a ketogenic lifestyle is definitely something to try out.
Alex Reed is a health enthusiast, whose mission is to help to change lives, using the ketogenic lifestyle. So everyone can benefit from ketosis and the magical effects it has on the human body.