Does Keto Diet Work?

Posted by Wen Dan Jiang on

Does Keto Diet Work?

Obesity is one of the major worldwide health issues that mankind faces today. Our health and medical industries have expanded immensely in the past few decades, where fitness and diet have become separate domains altogether. There are multiple diets that have been making rounds solely for the purpose of helping people lose weight and prevent diseases of various kinds. Some of the popular weight-loss diets include the Paleo diet, Low-Carb diets, the Zone diet, the Vegan diet, the Dukan diet, the Ultra-Low-Fat diet, the Atkins diet, and the HCG diet. Each one of these diets has a specific scientific reason behind how it works. Some focus on restricting calorie intake throughout the day, while others aim to reduce your appetite.

The ketogenic diet is one such diet that focuses on low carb and protein while relying mostly on energy sources derived from fat. As for the expected question: Does keto diet work? The answer is, it certainly does. However, it is not something experts suggest you should do for a very long time. The reason is that our body needs all kinds of nutrients to sustain, and a certain diet may be beneficial for a certain time limit; it cannot be adopted as a lifestyle – that may be detrimental to health.

Let us see what a ketogenic diet is, what it entails, and how it works for the human body when it comes to losing weight and combating diseases.

What is Keto Diet?

Keto diet is similar to its counterparts as it comprises a diet plan that focuses on low-carb and high fat. The science behind the working of a ketogenic diet is to reduce the intake of carbohydrates to almost 20% of the daily calorie consumption. By reducing the carb intake and consuming fats; instead, the ketogenic diet puts our body into a state of metabolism known as ketosis. In ketosis, the body learns to burn fat for energy rather than glucose, and one of the outcomes that have been reported include a reduction in blood sugars and insulin levels.

The ketogenic diet is further categorized into several versions that are cyclic ketogenic diet (CKD), high-protein ketogenic diet, Standard ketogenic diet (SKD), and Targeted ketogenic diet (TKD). All these versions of the ketogenic diet are based on different percentages of the nutrients you can consume during your keto diet. They also allow you to work around different cycles of ketosis and then consuming carbs, whatever you prefer, and what suits you best.

How Does Keto Diet Work?

It is very important to understand the mechanism of the keto diet in order for you to get the maximum benefit from it. To explicate simply, the ketogenic diet aims at forcing your body to use a different type of fuel for metabolism. Our body usually glucose as its source of energy whereas, in the ketogenic diet, that source shifts from glucose to fats.

It usually takes 3 to 4 days for the body to shift into a state of ketosis. When you eat the fewer amount of carbs, your body eventually runs out of energy (from glucose) to consume. This way, the body starts breaking down fats and proteins for energy, as a result of which you start to lose weight. Researchers and various studies agree that the weight loss in the first 3 to 6 months is quite quick; however, it is not a long-term weight loss solution.

What to Eat on a Keto Diet?

As for the dos and don'ts of the keto diet, you need to rely more on fat and protein than on carbohydrates. The easily digestible carbs that include white sugar, pastries, white bread, soda, are specially put on restriction while you are on ketosis. These are all non-keto friendly foods and must be avoided completely or reduced to a considerable ratio.

During your keto diet, experts are of the opinion that you can eat healthy unsaturated fats like almonds, walnuts, avocados, olive oil. Most recommended, however, are coconut oil, butter, cocoa butter, palm oil, etc.

In the protein food group, you are free to choose between chicken, turkey, beef, bacon, pork as your source of protein. The meat does not have to be lean, and that is one great attribute of this diet, especially for meat lovers, although you are going to have your burger without the bun.

Fruits and vegetables that do not contain high carbs are highly recommended, while the ones that have excess carb ratios are to be consumed in small portions or avoided.

The following table provides a list of foods that are keto-friendly and the ones you need to avoid during your ketosis phase:

Foods to Eat on a Keto Diet

Foods to Avoid/Reduced on a Keto Diet

Meats including turkey, bacon, chicken, beef, ham, and steak

Sugary foods like soda, cake, ice cream, candy

Unprocessed cheddar, goat, cream, blue or mozzarella cheese

Fruits except for small portions of berries

Almonds, walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds,

Rice, pasta, cereal

Butter and cream

Chickpeas, peas, kidney beans, lentils

Avocados, healthy oils preferably coconut oil, olive oil or avocado oil

Potatoes, carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes

Non-starchy vegetables such as tomatoes, onions, and peppers, etc.

Vegetable oils, mayonnaise

Salt and peppers

alcohol

Herbs and spices

Highly processed or sugar-free foods

Apart from the regular main course meals, you can always have snacks during your keto diet in the form of low carb, high-fat food items. Some snacking options that are keto-friendly include:

  • Cheese with olives
  • Dark chocolate
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • A handful of nuts or seeds
  • Keto-friendly smoothies or shakes
  • Strawberries and cream
  • Leftover meals in smaller portions
  • Yogurt mixed with nut butter or cocoa powder

Despite the restriction on carbohydrates during keto, this diet allows you to eat a whole host of foods to satiate your hunger and help you lose weight at the same time. All you have to do is make a smart choice and plan your meals in such a way that they are low in carbs and high in fats and proteins so that you can maintain the recommended keto-friendly ratio of the foods you consume.

Health Benefits of Keto

While keto is considered as a short-term fix to weight loss, it has proven health benefits that are as follows:

  • Treats Epilepsy Keto was primarily formulated for those who suffered from epilepsy, a condition in which seizures in the body occur. It was used as a treatment in the 1920s; however, considering an advancement in treatment types over the years, it is always advisable to consult your medical specialist.

  • Heart Disease: Keto lowers the levels of insulin in the body that results in reducing cholesterol. This leads to a reduction in high blood pressure and helps with other heart diseases and conditions.

  • Certain Brain Diseases: Keto helps in protecting brain cells from damage. It also positively impacts if you have sleep disorders, Alzheimer's diseases, Parkinson's diseases, and other nervous system disorders. It may be due to ketones that are formed when the body breaks down fat for energy.
  • Acne: Every time somebody experiences acne, they are told to cut on carbs as they are related to the production of insulin, which is also responsible for regulating hormones.

  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: Keto also helps with PCOS by reducing the amount of insulin in the body, along with other lifestyle changes like workout and a proper weight loss regimen.

  • Fights Cancer: By allowing the body to make less insulin, keto helps to slow down the growth of cancer cells.

Possible Side Effects of Keto Diet

  • Type 1 Diabetic Patients Need to be Careful Because the diet keeps blood sugar lower and burns fats, it produces compounds called ketones. An excess of ketones in the body may result in sickness for those who have diabetes type 1. They need to consult their doctor before keto diet.
  • Apart from possible side effects for diabetes patients, keto may also cause constipation, lower blood sugar levels, cause indigestion, kidney stones, and keto flu in some conditions.

Bottomline

The first step to starting a keto diet is to educate yourself about carbohydrates as a food group, foods that contain healthy carbs, and those that contain unhealthy carbs or carbs that are recommended in small amounts. Knowing your food groups is the first and foremost requirement before you start any diet as it would provide you with all the information you need to begin your journey.

Keto diet is heralded as one of the most effective diets that are used for weight loss. While it has proved to be effective in what it claims, researchers insist that keto is a short-term diet that mainly focuses on weight loss rather than long-term health benefits. Therefore, it may be used as a tool for weight loss, but in case you want a healthy body, you need to make lifestyle changes that include a combination of workout and a balanced diet simultaneously.

References

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