Who says you must stand the painful injections or awful drugs to heal every ailment that comes your way when we have a wonder Ketogenic (Keto) diet?
Wouldn’t you prefer the delicious food you enjoy for breakfast, lunch or dinner to aid heal some of your diseases instead?
Well, it is possible, courtesy of a ketogenic diet!
Keto diet in combination with other healthful living plans will help you heal (or prevent) many diseases than you may imagine.
Let’s face it.
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Ketogenic Diet: Explore The Benefits (And The Side Effects Of Keto)
Unlike ordinary dieting and other eating plans such as vegetarianism, veganism … for health which is almost commonsense nowadays, a Ketogenic diet is not straightforward. It is not uncommon to learn that many people don’t have any idea about the Keto thing. And this is why I find it an interesting kind of science, and not just eating delicious food.
In this article I dig up for you what a Ketogenic diet is all about in simple terms, I shed light back on its origin,— and why it came into existence, I explore its enormous benefits, and I let you know its risks and side effects.
At the end of this article, you will be in a good position to decide if the Keto diet belongs to you, or you may recommend it to your neighbor. — The truth is; while Keto is a healthy eating plan with enormous benefits, it is not fit for everyone.
Note: At the end of this article there are very reliable references which you can get even more info about the Ketogenic diet.
Without further ado, let’s dive right in.
Naturally, body cells use blood sugar that originates from carbohydrates as the main source of energy. But what happens in the case of deficiency of blood sugar?
This state causes the body to start breaking down stored fat, in the process called ketosis. During this process, the fat is broken down into molecules called ketones bodies which the cells then use to generate energy instead of sugar.
As you can see the two terms Ketosis and Ketones are the geneses of the whole KETOGENIC DIET —which we are breaking down today.
What Is Ketogenic (Keto) Diet?
A keto diet is an eating strategy that aims to create a deficiency of carbs’ blood sugar so that the body is forced to breakdown fats (ketosis process) for energy to fuel the body cells. To trigger this process you need to consume a lot of fats, sufficient proteins, but very limited carbohydrates.
This eating plan dries up blood sugar reserves, and the body is involuntarily thrown into ketosis mode in an endeavor to generate energy.
What makes a keto diet so important and or so necessary?
For a comprehensive answer, there is a need to go back to the roots, to its history.
The History Of Ketogenic (Keto) Diet
Keto diet can be traced back to the 1920s when physicians tried to mimic the metabolism of fasting and other diet routines technology as a way of treating epilepsy.
The technology of fasting and dietary routines to treat epilepsy is not a recent thing. Research indicates that it had been in use as early as about 500BC.
When it came into existence as a better way of treating epilepsy, keto diet technology became very popular, especially for the first two decades of its invention.
However with the discovery of modern antiepileptic drug treatment for epilepsy, nowadays its usage as a treatment for epilepsy is minimal.
It is worth noting that people who follow this kind of diet have different aims with it and hence we have variations in the keto diet as outlined below.
Types Of Ketogenic Diets
Although originally a ketogenic diet was one, different demand cases inevitably caused the invention of several different types of high-fat, moderate protein, and low-carb diets.
Here are the types of keto diet suiting different demands.
1. A Strict Keto Diet (Therapeutic Keto Diet)
This type of ketogenic diet is the original version that was invented in the 1920s to treat epilepsy and seizures.
As the name suggests, this version of the keto diet is the strictest with the lowest intake of carbohydrates. Basing on the Practical Neurology study, only 4% of daily calories should originate from carbs. The whooping 90% of daily calories should come from fat and 6% from protein.
2. The Standard Keto Diet
Many keto diet devotees do opt for this type since it is less strict, yet can effectively yield results.
It consists of 75 percent of daily calorie intake from fats, 20% daily calories from protein, and 5% from carbohydrates.
This ketogenic diet suits people who want to lose weight quickly among other health benefits.
3. A High-Protein Keto Diet
This version of the ketogenic diet aims to increase protein intake. In this keto diet, protein produces 30% of daily calories, fat makes 65% of daily calories, and carbs make 5% of required daily calories.
Spitzer, a researcher advises that the source of protein should come from both animals like fish, meat, and dairy products as well as from plants like seeds and nuts.
This version of the keto diet is best for bodybuilders and aging people who need to protect against muscle depletion.
4. Targeted Keto
This type of keto diet is not for everyone. As the name suggests it targets certain situations. Essentially, the targeted ketogenic diet suits some athletes.
According to Daniela Torchia, Ph.D., a registered dietitian based in Loma Linda – California, an athlete is supposed to follow the keto diet as usual until 30 to 45 minutes before exercise, then he/she should consume about 25g of carbs. The aim of the timing is just to have enough carbs to fuel the workout and yet be able to return to ketosis readily after cooling down.
5. A Mediterranean Keto Diet
The Mediterranean keto diet is more or less similar to standard keto with the notable difference being that standard keto does not specify the type of fats to prioritize while Mediterranean keto emphasizes monounsaturated fatty acids which aim at lowering LDL cholesterol and boosts omega-3s which are anti-inflammatory. Fans of this type of keto will target Mediterranean diet essentials like fatty fish and olive oil.
Madeline McDonough, RDN, who is based in Boston notes that this type of ketogenic diet is for people who like a flexible approach to healthy long-term eating.
As time goes by, we continue witnessing more innovations of new types of the keto diet to suit specific health situations as they emerge. Generally, the current hype about the keto diet has never been witnessed before, likely due to its enormous health benefits.
The following are key health benefits that have caused unusual excitement for the keto diet among the populations worldwide.
The Benefits Of Ketogenic (Keto) Diet.
1. Treatment Of Epilepsy And Reduction Of Seizures
The Epilepsy Foundation found out that ketosis resulting from a ketogenic diet can reduce seizures in people with epilepsy. This was more successful especially in people who had resisted other treatment methods. It was also noted that there was a better success in children. However, the Epilepsy Foundation recommends more research on the effectiveness of ketosis technology to treat epilepsy.
2. Help In Weight Loss
Since many diseases including the currently dreadful Covid-19 are taking advantage of overweight and or obesity cases, it is nowadays recommendable to shake-off the extra weight as early as possible. The keto diet can help with weight loss by significantly reducing appetite as well as boosting metabolism.
Also, because a ketogenic diet is comprised of plenty of fats and protein which have stomach fill-up effects, this factor can help reduce appetite hence may promote weight loss.
Evidently, in a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials, researchers discovered that within 1 year, people who were on the keto diet lost 2 pounds more than people who followed low-fat diets.
3. It Improves Blood Sugar Control In Patients With Type 2 Diabetes
The keto diet can effectively help in blood sugar control by boosting insulin sensitivity. Additionally, since a ketogenic diet can help in fat loss, this can be a significant health benefit for people with type 2 diabetes or even prediabetes cases.
One study discovered that the keto diet improved insulin sensitivity by a massive 75%. This can be a great step towards controlling blood sugar in type 2 diabetes cases.
4. Improves Acne
Though may have different causes, in some cases Acne has dietary and blood sugar basis.
A study conducted in 2012 showed that by reducing carbohydrate consumption, a keto diet could reduce acne symptoms in some cases.
5. Reduce The Risk Of Heart Disease
A review study of 2017 in animals and humans indicated that ketogenic diet resulted in a significant drop of total cholesterol; low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or bad cholesterol and triglycerides, but an increase in high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or good cholesterol was noted.
An increase in good cholesterol and a decrease in bad cholesterol is an important aspect of the keto diet and the key to a healthy heart.
Nonetheless, the review indicated that the positive effects depend largely on the quality of the diet —which implies that to achieve positive results with a ketogenic diet you must eat healthful, nutritionally balanced food.
6. May Treat or Minimize the Risk of Certain Cancers
One study showed that since the keto diet causes more oxidative stress in cancer cells than in normal cells, it may be suitably used alongside chemotherapy and radiation therapy in the treatment of certain cancers because the oxidative stress weakens cancer cells causing them to die.
Another study of 2018 indicates that since uncontrolled blood sugar may have links to certain cancers, a ketogenic diet which has shown to reduce blood sugar levels, could minimize the risk of insulin complications, and hence may prevent such cancers.
However, researchers point out that more research needs to be done to ascertain the benefits of cancer prevention and treatment using a ketogenic diet.
7. Help Improve PCOS Symptoms
What is PCOS? Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder commonly experienced in females of reproductive age that can cause irregular or prolonged menstrual periods or excess male hormones. This happens when ovaries develop follicles and fail to release eggs regularly.
A 2019 review study disclosed that a keto diet had positive effects for people with hormonal imbalance, like PCOS and type 2 diabetes. While this review study showed positive results, the reviewers cautioned that the studies were too wide to recommend the diet as a treatment for PCOS.
A 2019 study review indicated that ketones bodies produced during ketosis provide neuroprotective benefits. Essentially, the benefits involve strengthening and protecting nerve cells and the brain as a whole.
Basing on this study researchers suggest a possibility of a ketogenic diet being able to prevent or manage Alzheimer’s disease.
However, note that more research is required to ascertain the effectiveness of the ketogenic diet on the protection of nerve cells and the brain.
Keto diet has enormous benefits, some of which are as outlined above. But it is worth noting that many of the researchers advised that more research was necessary to ascertain the keto diet effectiveness in the given situation. Therefore before you start with a Ketogenic diet to resolve any health matter it is better to talk to your doctor about it.
The doctor gives you a green light to take care of your situation with the keto diet.
What exact foods are you going to consume?
Before we kick off with the keto foods, take note that the nutritional content of the foods you aim to consume as well as the right cooking (preparation) factor will determine your success level with the ketogenic diet.
Without further ado, here is a list of easily found food that you may consider if you want to make a ketogenic diet a success story.
Top Food For Ketogenic Diet
- Meats: red meat, bacon, chicken, turkey, sausages, ham
- Fish: trout, salmon mackerel, tuna
- Butter and cream
- Unprocessed cheese
- Eggs: omega-3 whole eggs or pastured eggs
- Healthful oils: coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil
- Low carbs fruits: avocado, lemon, strawberries, blackberries,
- Low carbs vegetables: fibrous vegetables, tomatoes, peppers, onions
- Seeds and Nuts: Flaxseeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, walnuts
Take away point
The list of foods above is selected based on their nutritional value. It comprises foods that are high in fats, adequate proteins, and a very small percentage of carbs. The aim here is to throw the body into a ketosis state, burn fats, and generate energy.
As I did mention earlier, besides the enormous benefits of the Ketogenic diet, it has drawbacks too!
Here are the side effects commonly on the lips of the keto diet starters.
The Side Effects Of Ketogenic (Keto) Diet
A ketogenic diet is generally a safe eating plan with many benefits as indicated above. However, while the body is adapting to the diet some people do have some side effects.
Some people reported what is known as keto flu symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, and constipation.
Occasionally some people also reported the following issues.
- Sleep issues like insomnia and interrupted sleep due to a low level of serotonin and melatonin
- Pangs of Hunger if not enough fiber and water is taken.
- Weariness because the body tends to exhaust all of its stored glucose before engaging ketosis, and since no more glucose is added via the easier carbs way, you end up with a low level of insulin in your bloodstream causing some fatigue-like symptoms
- Digestive issues. Since bile is produced and breaks down fats into fatty acids, the sudden increase in the fats due to the keto diet can prompt excessive release of bile hence may thrust waste through the digestive tract faster than normal, which may lead to diarrhea.
- Nausea due to unusual high fat and carb of the ketogenic diet.
While the side effects do not pose any danger, it is advisable to minimize these side effects which can make you uncomfortable as the body adopts them. To do this, prepare the body by eating a low carb diet for one week before starting with the keto diet.
It is also important to eat enough food to provide sufficient energy to avoid feeling hungry as the body adapts to the new eating plan.
Keto diet works well in short term. But overstaying on this eating plan may have some risks. The following are common risks:
- The fat build-up in the liver
- Kidney stones
- Low protein in the blood
- Deficiencies of micronutrients
It is worth noting that while the keto diet help in some blood sugar issues, people who are on a medication called sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors, a treatment for type 2 diabetes should avoid the ketogenic diet altogether. This is because this medication can cause a dangerous condition called diabetic ketoacidosis that increases blood acidity, and can pose a danger.
The Bottom Line
Let me sum up: a ketogenic diet is no doubt an exciting way to treat certain health conditions, and one of the best ways to lose weight. But it is not without drawbacks. It is, therefore, necessary to seek the advice of your doctor or a registered dietitian before you think of following this eating plan.
Consultation with your doctor should clear you of dangerous conditions like heart disease, diabetes, hypoglycemia, or any other health complications that may not go well with the ketogenic diet.
Above all, bear in mind that research about the keto diet’s long-term benefits is not sufficient. And since the ketogenic diet limits intake of many varieties of greens and fruits, on grounds that they contain carbs, and instead encourages plenty consumption of red meat and other fatty foods some of which are notoriously unhealthy, it would be better to embrace a healthy balanced diet of fruits, green vegetables, whole grain and sufficient proteins and healthy fats instead of jumping on board with the new hype of keto diet which is only short term unless your doctor advises otherwise according to your health condition.