Ketogenic diet is a low carb, high fat diet that involves a drastic reduction in carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat. This reduction in carbs puts the body into a metabolic state called ketosis.
Ketosis is a metabolic state in which the body produces ketones to be used as fuel by some organs so that glycogen can be reserved for organs that depend on it. This condition occurs during times of fasting, starvation or in this case, a ketogenic weight loss diet.
A ketogenic diet not only reduces one’s weight, but also, controls blood glucose level (BGL). As carbohydrates are responsible for breakdown into glucose, which may pose problems to diabetics, the ketogenic diet proves a more healthy choice.
Once, before I understood how ketosis worked, I saw a woman have four boiled eggs for breakfast. She drank two glasses of water and went about her daily activities. I had thought having four eggs at a go defeated the purpose of weight loss, but I was wrong. The idea dwells on the fact that high carbs meals add to rapid weight gain because glucose ends up been stored, not only in the liver, but also in the muscles.
Carbs rich diets contribute more to body weight than fat rich diet. Both are sources of energy for the body and both are responsible for weight gain; but fats serve as a secondary source of energy for the body even though they are burned more easily than carbs.
Fat is broken down to its simplest form and stored as fatty acids and glycerol. These are stored away in the adipose tissues and sometimes around some internal organs.
The concept of ketogenic weight loss follows constantly breaking down all the fat stores by restricting the caloric quantities provided by a carbs diet. Breaking down fat stores isn’t enough, it needs replenishing; hence, the high fat diet. Again fat stores cannot be broken down if the carbs stores are stock full; hence, the carbs restrictive diet.
When the body senses the absence of glucose for energy, it turns to the body’s fat stores. If fat stores are constantly broken down, weight loss occurs and is usually visible within some days.
Although ketosis dwells on low carb intake, it accepts meals that are neither high in fat content nor high in carbs content. These include low-carb vegetables. The diet doesn’t always have to be rich in fat, it just has to be very low in carbs.
DISADVANTAGES OF KETOGENIC DIET?
The keto diet strictly follows a particular regimen and is difficult to adhere to. As it with anything with benefits, there are risks. Some risks or disadvantages of the ketogenic diet are;
- It does not come cheap – getting the ideal foods for the ketogenic diet, costs more than the average you’d normally spend on your meals. Most of the recommended foods are not staple; have to be sought after and usually come expensively when they do come.
- Accumulates fat around vital organs like the heart, lungs and kidneys – fat consumption, in the quantity required by the ketogenic diet can have a strenuous effect on vital organs. In the event that fat stores are exhausted or adipose tissue stretched to limit, fats depend on surrounding organs for storage; this, surprisingly, occurs more frequently in slimmer people. Accumulation of the extra fat may impede the actions of the organs.
- As risky as acclaimed healthy for diabetics – over restriction of carbs in a diabetic may lead to severe hypoglycemia in diabetics. In as much as the diet helps control blood glucose level (BGL) in diabetics, it can pose severe risks in them too.
- Dehydration and electrolytes loss – carbs restriction has the unwanted effect of unbalancing water and electrolytes.
- Nutrient deficiencies – aside from the energy derived from the carbohydrate diet, other nutrients which are present in carbs may be lost or be in limited supply due to the ketogenic diet.
Other problems associated with the ketogenic diet are;
- Constipation and other GIT problems
- Hormonal changes
- LDL cholesterol level increase.
Ketogenic diet may result in high cholesterol and an increased risk for heart disease. The diet makes use of all kinds of fats, including saturated and trans fats; which have the capacity to increase LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and lower HDL (good) cholesterol levels.
WHAT CAN YOU EAT ON THE KETO DIET?
Already established is the high fat low carbs diet, right? So what foods constitute a low carbs diet? These are but a very few examples of what you can consume if you’re on a ketogenic diet;
- Meat and poultry
- Coconut oil
- Plain Greek
- Olive oil
- Nuts and seeds
- Butter and cream
- Cocoa and dark chocolates
WHAT NOT T0 EAT
To ensure you benefit fully from the ketogenic diet, you should abstain from consuming the below listed foods;
- Grains – rice, oats, pasta, maize and other starchy grains.
- Peas – beans, lentils. These are high proteins and also contain healthy fats; and such recommended for the keto diet.
- Low-fat dairy products – dairy products are advisable for the ketogenic diet, but what’s the point if it’s low fat?
- Sugars and sweeteners – the keto diet avoids any food that can generate an optimum amount of glucose for muscle use; hence, the avoidance of sugars.
- Sugary beverages – juice, sodas etc.
- Tubers – yams, potatoes, cassava and or its derivatives etc.
- Baked foods – contain a high amount of carbs and should be avoided.
PEANUT BUTTER AND MAYO FOR KETO
Natural peanut butter is a low carb food. It is high in healthy fats and contains moderate quantity of proteins and a high amount of fiber. Experts observed that a two spoon serving may provide just about 3.5grams of net carbs, making it a suitable addition to the ketogenic diet.
Mayonnaise is very rich in fats, making it a very model keto addition. Note that keto foods are usually rich in fats.
CAN YOU EAT BREAD ON KETO?
While, keto avoids carbs as much as possible, the ultimate goal is to restrict carbs intake to less than 50 grams per day in order to keep the body in a constant state of ketosis. So yes, bread, as well as any other low carbohydrate food, can be consumed but only in the barest quantity.
WHAT IS AN EXAMPLE OF A KETO BREAKFAST, LUNCH AND DINNER?
The ketogenic diet as I’m sure we’re already aware is not limited to only one meal. It applies to the three meals of the day.
Some breakfast suggestions are as follows:
- Bacon with eggs and a small cup of decaffeinated coffee.
- One sausage and two boiled eggs with a glass of water.
- Cabbage swallows (pudding made out of cabbage) with a vegetable soup, with meat or fish and a glass of water.
- May follow any of the breakfast suggestions.
- Corned beef, vegetable salad and a tall glass of Greek yogurt.
Keto users can make improvisations with any of the ketogenic foods (any food low in carbs).
CAN YOU LOSE BELLY FAT ON KETO?
The ketogenic diet makes you lose weight by putting your body into ketosis. It doesn’t act on any specific body parts. Weight is lost all round the body in the keto diet. The addition of any form of exercise to tone a particular part of the body may help to align the diet to, for instance, losing belly fat.
The ketogenic diet is not for the mild heart or done with an empty pocket. Before commencing the diet, one has to be prepared. One also has to have a working knowledge of how to convert the staple foods into an acceptable ketogenic meal.
Once commenced, adherence must be strict because one lag may lead to a setback that could start the whole process again.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO ENTER KETOSIS?
The duration differs amongst everyone. But entering ketosis usually depends on the previous carbs level of the individual. A person enters ketosis when there’s no longer carb to burn for energy. That is when fat stores begin to break down as an alternative. Usually it takes about three days to two weeks to enter ketosis. The duration is also dependent on how strict the ketogenic diet is. If a person sticks to the 50g or less per day regimen, the time taken to enter ketosis will differ from a person whose daily carb intake is higher than 50g.
The ketogenic diet is a strict form of dieting and requires a wide range of foods and a fat pocket. Before embarking on this, it is expected that a person should have a working knowledge of what foods contain high carb content and which ones are best suited for keto. When in doubt, it is best to consult a dietician or a nutritionist.