Ketogenic Diet- Is It Another Fad Diet?
With the weight loss struggle getting harder than ever before and everyone looking for a fast fix; it becomes really hard to tell what’s fake and what’s not. The countless dieting plans on the web and countless weight loss strategies are enough to spin your head around. That’s why the idea of going on a ketogenic diet may sound no different to you! (1)
An increased weight gain represents just one aspect of a plethora of diseases. Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and a lot more conditions emerge from the same root. That’s where ketogenic diet comes into the picture and can save you from a number of medical conditions, and most importantly can help you lose weight.
What is Ketogenic Diet or What is Ketosis?
The ketogenic diet is rich in fats, moderate in proteins, and extremely low in carbohydrates (carbs).
The whole idea of Ketogenic diet revolves around the science of ketosis. What in the world is ketosis? Let’s find that out first.
Normally, your body is a carbohydrate driven machine. The reason is quite simple. Carbohydrates are extremely easily metabolized and your body avoids doing hard work (that’s the truth!).
Ketosis, basically, is the kind of state your body goes into when you’re starving. When your body reserves are running low on carbs, your body does something fascinating, that is, it starts burning fats! That’s something that you’d not normally see otherwise.
Your brain consumes a staggering 20% of the overall energy you eat on daily basis! Your brain can use carbohydrates as a direct source of energy but can’t do the same with fats. So how does the brain feed when you’re in the starvation mode or in ketosis?
The answer is ‘ketones’. When your body metabolizes fats, it produces chemical called ketones as a by-product (2). The good thing about ketones is that they can substitute carbohydrates as an energy source.
At first, it is really hard for your body to cope with this change. But in the longer run, your body becomes extremely efficient at burning fats.
What Benefits Can You Expect Following a Ketogenic Diet?
You’re losing fat, so one obvious benefit is weight loss.
Results of a research showed that Ketogenic diet is 2.2 times more superior to a caloric-restricted diet when it comes to weight loss. In addition, the blood levels of bad fats also improve following a Ketogenic diet plan (3).
Since your diet almost has no carbohydrates, it means you won’t have a lot of sugar flooding your system. This will give you added benefits if you are a diabetic (4).
In addition, the Ketogenic diet can also help you decrease the levels of ‘bad fats’ (triglyceride and cholesterol) and improve the levels of good fats (HDL cholesterol) (5). This can save you from a bunch of conditions such as heart conditions and high blood pressure (6).
Since your brain is receiving a lot of energy generating ketones, it would be happy and healthy. In fact, this is proven by research as well. One factor common to a number of brain conditions is a deficiency of energy. So your brain is receiving a lot of energy, it won’t be diseased anymore. That’s why the Ketogenic diet has proven to improve cognitive abilities and improve the conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease (7).
How Exactly Will Ketogenic Diet Help Me Lose Weight Fast?
Here are the top 5 reasons how Ketogenic diet is going to help you lose weight fast:
- Your body will burn more fat: The biggest hurdle in successful weight loss is fat loss. While you’d be eating more fat, but you will be eating no or little carbs. That’s why; your body would have to rely solely on fats as a source of energy. In fact, there would come a time when your body would start burning the stored fat as well. That’s when you’d start to lose weight fast (8).
- You will eat more protein: A ketogenic diet is high in fats and contains a moderate amount of protein as well. Proteins turn your body into an energy burning machine where you start burning a lot of calories and weight as a result. In addition, proteins help you feel fuller for longer and you end up consuming significantly less food (9).
- You will eat significantly less: Your eating patterns are under the influence of certain hormones. These hormones signal your brain whether or not you need to eat anymore. One such hormone is ghrelin.
The problem with ghrelin is that it makes you hungry. What adds fuel to the fire is that when you are on a diet, the levels of ghrelin start to sky-rocket. This explains the uncontrollable hunger pangs and food cravings when you’re on a diet.
Being on a Ketogenic diet will help curb your appetite in two ways. First, the high protein content is going to make you eat less (10). Second, research shows that Ketogenic diet helps reduce the amount of ghrelin (11). This would help you eat less.
- You will have limited food choices: Another huge problem, when it comes to dieting, is to choose what to eat and what to skip. But being on a ketogenic diet will effectively limit your food choices. More importantly, when on a ketogenic diet, you will have to exclude all the carbs from your diet. This would include excluding junk, sugary treats, and carbonated beverages.
- You will have improved metabolism: Ketogenic diet will make your metabolism super-effective. You will go into a state where your body would burn more energy and store very less of it.
What does the science say about ketogenic diet and weight loss? Studies?
There is a bunch of clinical research that supports the use of Ketogenic diet for weight loss.
In one study, the British researchers compared the effects of low carb diet (ketogenic diet) vs. low-fat diet on the weight loss progress. At the end of 3 months, the researchers got amazing results. They observed that the group that followed a Ketogenic diet plan lost 3 times more weight than the group that ate a diet low on fats (12).
There is a huge amount of clinical research that supports the effectiveness of Ketogenic diet in helping you lose weight. Researchers studied the published data on ketogenic diet’s effect on weight and found ketogenic diet was consistently linked with a significant reduction in body weight (13).
Is the ketogenic diet intended to be followed over the long term, or only for short intervals?
There have been some safety concerns regarding the long-term use of Ketogenic diet. Some people argue that Ketogenic diet is not how our bodies are naturally supposed to work. So following such a diet plan for long-term can have potential side effects.
But research does not prove this claim. In fact, research shows that following a Ketogenic diet for long-term is healthy and does not have significant side effects.
In one research, a team of researchers studied the effects of Ketogenic diet when followed for a period of 24 weeks. They found that none of the participants developed any serious side effects. In fact, most of them lost weight, had a better cholesterol profile, and had better heart health (14).
What are the side effects of the ketogenic diet? Or is ketogenic diet harmful?
Well, there can be some side effects of the Ketogenic diet. These side effects are especially pronounced during the early days of following this dietary plan.
The most common side effects are related to low blood sugar. Your body is not used to low sugar levels. When your sugar reserves get low, you start to experience side effects like:
- Fainting spells
- Increased thirst
- Increased heart rate
- Excessive sweating
- Increased hunger
You can face a number of side effects like constipation due to a decrease in fiber intake. You can cope with that by drinking more water or eating fiber supplements.
However, most of these side effects improve over time.
Do I get sufficient nutrients when on a ketogenic diet? How many carbs can I still eat when on a ketogenic diet? How to follow a ketogenic diet?
Here are the foods you should eat when on a Ketogenic diet:
- You can eat both red and white meat. This included chicken, turkey, steak, bacon.
- Try to add fatty fish to your diet. This includes salmon, tuna, and trout.
- Add butter and cream coming from grass-fed cattle.
- Eggs should be the main part of your diet.
- You would need to eat a lot of cheese.
- Add nuts and seeds to your diet. This would give you necessary fats as well as the much-needed nutrients. You can eat almonds, chia seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds.
- Cook your meals in plant-based oils like coconut oil or olive oil.
- You can still eat low carb veggies like pepper, onions, and veggies.
You should avoid:
- Junk food
- Soda and beverages
- Candies, cakes, and pastries
- All fruits
- Potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes
- Beans and legumes like lentils, peas, and chickpeas