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How the Keto Diet Works

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  • How the Keto Diet Works


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    The keto diet has become immensely popular in the last few years. You might have heard regarding it from friends, colleagues, or magazine spreads that could leave you wondering what is all about its buzz and how it exactly works.

    A ketogenic or keto diet is a high-fat, low-carb, and moderate protein diet that helps in burning fat effectively. Low-carb nutrition is especially useful in treating type 2 diabetes and getting rid of excess fat from the body without hunger.

    Nutritionists, dieticians, and the current media have preached several people, that fats specifically saturated fats are not good for health.

    They have taught that high-fat diets are a risk factor for heart disease, increased levels of cholesterol, elevated blood pressure, and several other health conditions. But new scientific evidence reveals that these claims are an absolute myth.

    As a matter of fact, numerous studies prove the benefits of a high-fat, low-carb meal plan in losing weight and improving performance and health.

    Here you will learn what a keto diet is, the health advantages related to it, and how it works in bringing about those benefits.



    What is a keto diet?

    The keto diet is a high-fat, low carb diet. It was first developed during the 1920s for treating drug-resistant epilepsy among children and is still utilized in that ability today. It is being researched as a possible breakthrough treatment plan for an extensive range of health diseases. Simply put, it is not simply a celebrity trend for weight loss!


    What ‘keto’ means, and how does the diet work?

    A ‘ketogenic’ or ‘keto’ diet is named so because it results in the production of small fatty acid molecules in the body that are known as ketones or ketone bodies. These ketones serve as an alternative fuel source for the body, which can be utilized during times of reduced glucose (sugar) supply.

    The target of this nutrition plan is to attain a state of ketosis in which your body breaks down ketone bodies instead of glucose for obtaining energy. But the question is how keto works, and how does your body enter the ketosis state?

    The standard American diet (SAD) and the majority of Western dietary patterns are highly concentrated in carbohydrates, with some amounts of protein, and barely any fat. If an average individual consumes a meal that is rich in carbohydrates, their body uses those carbohydrates and breaks them down into glucose for deriving fuel.

    The hormone insulin then transports that glucose inside the cell for utilization. Glucose occurs to be the primary energy source for the body in the presence of carbohydrates.

    But things get different when you are on a low-carb diet. When you go keto, your carb intake is very low, and when those carbohydrates are not present, it is necessary for your body to use a different energy form for keeping the things ticking.

    That is where the role of fat comes in. The liver uses the body’s fatty acids when carbs are not present and transforms them into ketones as a fuel source for the whole body, particularly the brain. This whole process is called ketosis, and it is the main purpose for those following the ketogenic diet.

    The brain consumes a great amount of energy each day, and it cannot fuel on fat stores directly. It is capable of running only on glucose from carbs or ketones.

    When the body is on low-carb nutrition, it switches its energy supply for running mostly on fats throughout the day. Moreover, this fat burn can spike dramatically when the level of insulin drops very low. In other words, it becomes convenient to access the fat stores for burning them off.

    Overall, this is wonderful for those who are trying to get rid of excess weight, however, there can be other advantages as well, such as steady fuel supply and less hunger, which is all in the absence of sugar peaks that usually occur when your diet is rich in carbs. This can help in keeping you focused and alert.

    Three ketone bodies are produced in the body during the break down of fatty acids:
    • Acetoacetate: made first during the state of ketosis
    • Acetone: a byproduct of acetoacetate that forms spontaneously
    • BHB or beta-hydroxybutyrate: created from acetoacetate


    Types of the Keto Diet

    There exist various kinds of the ketogenic diet, which include:
    • SKD or a Standard ketogenic diet: This version is a very low-carb, high-fat, and moderate protein diet. It usually contains 75 percent fats, 20 percent proteins, and just 5 percent carbs.
    • CKD or a Cyclical ketogenic diet: This version involves higher-carb eating periods, for instance, 5 ketogenic days that are succeeded by 2 higher-carb days.
    • High-protein ketogenic diet: This version is a lot similar to a standard ketogenic diet, however, it includes more amount of protein. It allows a ratio of 60 percent fats, 5 percent carbs, and 35 percent protein.
    • TKD or a targeted ketogenic diet: This version permits you to incorporate carbohydrates around workouts.


    But it is only high-protein and standard ketogenic diets that have been researched extensively. Targeted or cyclical ketogenic diets are much more advanced forms and mainly used by athletes or bodybuilders.

    While the discussion in this guide is mostly applicable to SKD (a standard ketogenic diet), most of the principles can also be applied to other versions in the same way.




    Benefits of Keto: Why should you eat a low-carb meal plan?

    The ketogenic diet has similar benefits as those of the other higher-fat and low-carb diets, however, it seems to be much more potent than liberal low-carbohydrate meal plans.

    It will not be wrong to consider the low-carb ration as a highly charged, low carbohydrate meal plan that simply maximizes the benefits. Some of its benefits are:



    Keto helps in losing weight

    As your body transforms in a fat break down machine, it becomes immensely beneficial for losing weight.

    The fat breakdown is significantly enhanced, while the level of insulin, which is the fat-accumulating hormone, drops greatly. This apparently makes it simpler for the body to lose fat without hunger.

    Moreover, there exists numerous high-quality research that reveals, as compared to various other diets, a ketogenic meal plan results in much more efficient weight reduction.

    There are many reasons behind the superiority of the ketogenic ration to a meal plan that is low-fat in nature, which can be increased protein consumption that offers numerous benefits.

    The reduced levels of blood sugar enhanced insulin sensitivity, and increased ketone bodies can play a significant role as well.



    Keto reverses and prevents diabetes

    Diabetes is marked by raised blood sugar, impaired insulin performance, and variations in metabolism.

    The low-carb meal plan may help you in losing excess fat that is closely associated with type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and prediabetes.

    Research in individuals having type 2 diabetes revealed that 7 out of 21 subjects stopped using their diabetes medications.

    Moreover, scientific evidence found that the ketogenic group lost 24.4 lbs. (11.1 kg) as compared to 15.2 lbs. (6.9 kg) seen in the high-carbohydrate group. This serves an essential benefit when it is about the connection between type 2 diabetes and weight.

    Also, 95.2 percent of the ketogenic group also reduced or stopped using diabetes medication relative to 62 percent of the high-carbohydrate group.

    Since the ketogenic ration can reverse ongoing type 2 diabetes, it is also possibly effective in preventing it, along with treating prediabetes as per clinical experiences and anecdotal evidence.



    Keto improves health markers

    Numerous scientific studies have shown that the ketogenic nutrition plan can improve various risk factors of heart disease, which involve cholesterol profile, including HDL cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein) and triglycerides.

    Besides that, it is also usually seen that this dietary plan results in improved blood pressure, insulin level, plus blood sugar level.

    All these improved health markers are associated with an insulin-resistant disorder known as "metabolic syndrome" that the ketogenic ration can treat effectively.



    Keto increases mental performance and energy

    Some individuals use a low-carb diet, particularly for increasing mental performance. Apart from that, it is also common for individuals to encounter a spike in energy while they are in ketosis.

    When you go keto, your brain does not require dietary carbs. It is fueled by ketone bodies together with a small concentration of glucose that is produced by the liver. There isn’t any requirement for dietary carbs.

    Therefore, the state of ketosis leads to a continuous energy flow (ketones) for the brain, hence avoiding problems that are experienced in large blood sugar fluctuations.

    It has been seen that this can lead to improved concentration and focus, and treating brain fog, along with enhanced mental clarity.



    Keto enhances physical endurance

    The ketogenic diet, in theory, enhances physical endurance, and it does so by increasing your accessibility to the large quantities of energy present in your body’s fat deposits.

    The supply of deposited carbs (glycogen) in the body can last only for a few hours of strenuous exercise, or even less. However, your fat deposits feature sufficient energy that can remain for weeks.

    Besides this, another possible advantage is the decrease in the percentage of body fat, which can be attained by following the ketogenic nutrition plan (as seen above in weight loss). This decrease in body fat is potentially useful in various competitive sports, which include endurance sports.



    Keto calms the stomach

    The ketogenic diet can lead to a more peaceful stomach, fewer cramps, less pain, and less gas that often causes improvements in symptoms associated with IBS.

    For some individuals, this happens to be the best benefit, plus it usually takes one or two days to experience the results.



    Keto can treat epilepsy

    Low-carb nutrition is a frequently effective and proven medical treatment for epilepsy, which has been utilized for almost a century.
    Traditionally its use was mainly directed for the pediatric population, but in the last few years, there is ever-growing research that supports its role in adults as well.

    The use of the low-carb nutrition plan for epilepsy may allow some individuals to take less anti-epileptic medications or even nothing at all, though remaining free of seizures. This can lower the side effects of drugs and consequently enhance mental performance.


    Other keto health benefits

    The ketogenic ration was actually formulated to treat neurological disorders like epilepsy.

    Numerous scientific investigations have now revealed that this meal plan can have advantages for an extensive variety of health conditions, especially neurological, metabolic, or insulin-associated diseases. Some of them include:
    • Cancer: The ketogenic meal plan is at present being used for treating several forms of cancer, plus it has also shown to slow the growth of tumors.
    • Parkinson’s disease: According to an investigation, the diet can help improve the symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease.
    • Alzheimer’s disease: The low-carb diet can decrease symptoms related to Alzheimer’s disease along with slowing its progression.
    • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): The low-carb ration can help in reducing insulin levels that can have a significant role in treating polycystic ovary syndrome.
    • Brain injuries: According to animals study, the ketogenic ration can lower concussions and assist the recovery period after traumatic brain injury.
    • Acne: Restricting your intake of processed foods or sugar and decreased insulin levels can help in improving acne.


    What should be eaten on the Ketogenic Diet?

    Ketogenic means consuming a high amount of fat. While you are on the low-carb meal plan, most of the calories are derived from the fat portion, with very less from carbs and a moderate amount from protein.

    For the majority of people, the breakdown of macronutrients on the ketogenic diet is:
    • 70 to 80 percent of the calories will be derived from fats
    • 20 to 25 percent of the calories from proteins
    • 5 to 10 percent of the calories from carbs

    Those who are already used to consuming low-carb may find that they are required to consume even fewer carbohydrates for achieving the state of ketosis.

    When you are on the ketogenic meal plan, you’re required to consume foods that are rich in fats, including olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, seeds, and nuts, and MCT oil. You also have to consume high-quality seafood, grass-fed meat, full-fat dairy, and eggs.

    You will receive minerals, vitamins, and fiber from leafy greens along with other keto-approved vegetables such as spinach, Brussels sprouts, kale, and cauliflower.


    Try to avoid

    While on keto, you will have to avoid foods that contain carbs in excessive amounts, including grains, sugar, and starch, by all means. Try consuming vegetables with less than 10g of carbohydrates (or approximately 5g of net carbohydrates) per serving.

    On the whole, your dietary plan should focus on limiting your carb consumption to fewer than 30g of carbohydrates in a day.

    Keep in mind that when you are following keto, don’t limit your calorie consumption. This occurs to be one of the main mistakes on the low-carb nutrition plan where people don’t get sufficient calories after slashing out sugar and carbs.



    Why isn’t there a need for Checking your Protein consumption?

    Contrary to the thinking of some people, you do not need to keep a check on consuming a lot of protein on the low-carb meal plan as it does not throw you out of ketosis.

    The human body features a metabolic function known as GNG or gluconeogenesis, which is usually misunderstood. A few sources assert that the intake of excess protein can activate GNG along with elevating the blood sugar, however that is a myth.

    The truth is here:

    GNG performs the duty of creating glucose from sources other than carbs, including protein, glycerol, and lactate. This is an ordinary process important for:
    • Fueling some of the tissues, which cannot use ketones like red blood cells, testicles, and area of the brain
    • Maintaining steady levels of blood glucose
    • Building glycogen

    Ketosis cannot be possible without gluconeogenesis. Ketone bodies are an ideal energy source, however as they cannot fuel 100 percent of the body tissues, GNG mediates to provide energy to the remaining.

    GNG is an extremely stable mechanism as well, so even in case of excess protein intake than what the standard ketogenic macros permit, the concentration of GNG does not increase enough for kicking you out the ketosis state.




    How can you become keto-adapted?

    The process of ketosis occurs to be a healthy and natural state of the human body. As a matter of fact, most of us naturally enter this state when we wake up after the body has been without food for 10 to12 hours (when you had food the night before) by morning.

    Those following the ketogenic diet, are to some extent, ‘starving’ their body of carbohydrates for conditioning their bodily system to use fats for obtaining fuel.

    You can encounter some side effects when your body is first adapting to keep going on ketones. These negative effects involve flu-like symptoms called keto flue that may include mild nausea, feeling lethargic, brain fog, and headaches.

    However, if you adhere to it strictly, your body starts to prefer fats as fuel and turns keto-adapted.

    But the question is, how would you ensure if your low-carb meal plan is working properly and you are maintaining the state of ketosis? This can be done by monitoring your level of ketones frequently.



    How can you know that you are in ketosis?

    To know if you are in ketosis or not can be measured by testing blood, breath, or urine samples. However, there exist some telltale symptoms as well that needs no testing:
    • Increase thirst and dry mouth: You can sense a dry mouth unless you get ample electrolytes such as sodium and drink sufficient water. Try taking one or two cups of bouillon daily and enough water as per your need. You can also sense a metallic flavor in the mouth.
    • Increased urination: Acetoacetate (ketone) can end up coming in your urine. This renders testing ketosis possible by utilizing urine strips. It can also increase the frequency of urination – at least while starting. This can be the primary reason behind increased thirst (discussed earlier).
    • Keto breath: Acetone (ketone) is the likely cause for ketogenic breath when it escapes through the breath. It makes an individual’s breath smell like nail polish remover or may have a fruity smell. This smell may also sometimes come from your sweat while working out. It is usually temporary.

    Some other less particular but more definite signs include:
    • Decreased hunger: Many individuals experience a striking decrease in hunger when they follow the low-carb nutrition plan. In fact, several individuals feel good when they are eating only one or two times a day, plus they can end up automatically doing a kind of intermittent fasting, which saves your money and time while speeding up your weight loss as well.
    • Possibly enhanced energy: Many individuals experience an obvious spike in their energy levels after some days of tiredness (keto-flu). This can be encountered as an absence of brain fog, clearer thinking, or even an appreciation of euphoria as well.

    The Takeaway

    The ketogenic diet is basically a low-carb, moderate protein, and high-fat diet.

    Although it was originally used for treating drug-resistant epilepsy, this nutrition plan has been revealed to help in increasing mental clarity, improving sleep patterns, boosting energy levels, reducing cravings, rapid fat and weight loss, a more peaceful stomach, increasing physical endurance, enhancing health markers, preventing type 2 diabetes along with other health conditions including heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, PCOS, Alzheimer’s disease, and much more.

    The low-carb meal plan works by limiting the carb intake of your body that gets converted into glucose inside the body. When the body is deprived of glucose for obtaining fuel, it starts breaking down fats instead.

    And, when the body’s primary energy source becomes fats (that are then converted into ketone bodies), you’re in a state of ketosis that is also the main goal of low-carb nutrition.
    While slashing out complete food groups (like starch and grains) may appear intimidating at the start, it is an effective lifestyle that several individuals prefer to diets that are rich in carbohydrates.

    This way of eating can be ideal for those who are diabetic, overweight, or looking for improving their metabolic status. And, as can be seen with any other diet, it can only be effective if you’re consistent and adhere to it for a long term basis.
    Last edited by Amanda Hamilton; 06-12-2020, 07:37 PM.

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