There are countless dietary fads one the market and some are more effective than others. However, one is particularly beneficial if we can appreciate how it works. The ketogenic lifestyle is associated with a number of positive attributes and several studies have already shown that it can have a positive impact upon our health if regularly embraced. However, it is important to appreciate some of the fundamental aspects of this diet in order to understand why a growing number of individuals are adopting such a regimen. Let’s look at the basics before moving on to examine a handful of major advantages and some useful guidelines to keep in mind.
What are the Basics of This Diet?
So, what are the main principles behind a “keto” diet? The easiest way to understand this lifestyle is to emphasise that it encourages a high consumption of fat and a relatively low amount of carbohydrates. The main idea here is to help individuals lose weight while controlling their levels of blood sugar.
The primary intention is to replace our consumption of carbohydrates with fat. This places the body in a metabolic state known as “ketosis” (hence the name). I actually love being in this state. Ketosis is one of the most efficient ways to encourage the body to burn fat for energy. This fat is then transformed into substances known as “ketones”; providing further nutrients and energy to the brain after they are metabolised in the liver.
Another interesting point to mention is that replacing carbohydrates with fat will help to moderate levels of insulin and blood sugar levels. This is a great way to lose weight and it is obviously beneficial for those who are concerned about developing chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes. Believe it or not, many studies have found that this type of diet is actually far superior when compared to common low-fat fads. This is due in no small part to the fact that individuals are able to trim away those kilogrammes without being worried about common issues such as counting calories.
Now that we have taken a look at some of the basic principles associated with this unique type of diet, it is a good idea to highlight some of its primary health benefits in order to fully appreciate the options at your disposal. If you have been less than satisfied with other health recommendations, the details found below should be quite interesting.
As mentioned previously, losing weight is one of the primary intentions of this diet. Research has illustrated that those who followed its basic principles could lose up to 2.2 times more weight when compared to a standard calorie-restrictive low-fat diet. Furthermore, levels of both triglycerides and LDL (bad) cholesterol were significantly reduced.
Another point to mention involves protein intake. Unlike other diets, this lifestyle encourages the consumption of protein; resulting in lower levels of blood sugar, increased ketones and improved insulin sensitivity. This is why I am so keen on embracing such a habit. You could very well be able to lose more fat than with a standard diet. The good news is that you will (normally) not experience frustrating issues such as hunger cravings.
Other Surprising Advantages
So, what else does this diet have in store? Believe it or not, some researchers are now employing ketogenic diets to treat the symptoms associated with epilepsy. This is only beginning to scratch the surface, as there are countless other advantages worth mentioning. Some of these include:
- This diet can treat risk factors associated with heart disease such as LDL cholesterol, visceral fat, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar.
- Studies have suggested that this diet may be useful in treating tumours and some types of cancer.
- The symptoms and progression of Alzheimer’s disease may be delayed.
- This type of diet has been shown to reduce the number of epileptic seizures in children.
- One study hinted that this diet helped to alleviate the symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
- As insulin levels can be reduced, these eating habits may play an important role in addressing polycystic ovary syndrome.
- The production of ketones may be able to reduce the severity of concussions and shorten the recovery times associated with a traumatic brain injury.
- Eating less sugar can help to limit acne-related skin issues.
Still, much more research needs to be performed in order to draw valid conclusions. It is nonetheless a fact that this diet will offer a host of health benefits; particularly in reference to neurological, metabolic and insulin-related issues.
What Foods Should You Eat?
So, what types of foods should be embraced when following this diet? Let’s take a look at a handy list so that you will be able to stock your refrigerator in advance:
- Meat: steak, ham, sausage, red meats, chicken, bacon and turkey.
- Fatty fish: tuna, mackerel, salmon, and trout.
- Eggs: farm-raised eggs or those high in omega-3 fatty acids.
- Grass-fed sources of butter and cream.
- Unprocessed cheeses (blue, cream, goat, cheddar, and mozzarella).
- Healthy oils: extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil and avocado oil.
- Freshly made guacamole or whole avocados.
- Salt, pepper, herbs, and spices.
In other words, try to base your diet around nature sources of fatty fish, meats, eggs, butter, nuts, and healthy oils. Low-carbohydrate vegetables are other healthy options. Here are some snacks to help control possible cravings:
- Cheese with olives.
- Nuts and seeds.
- One or two hard-boiled eggs.
- 90 percent dark chocolate.
- Low-carbohydrate milkshakes (nut butter, cocoa powder or almond milk).
- Full-fat yoghurt.
- Strawberries and cream.
- Celery with guacamole or salsa.
- Small portions of leftovers.
So, we can see that there are numerous options at your disposal.
Substances to Avoid
Here are some foods that should be eliminated from this type of diet if you hope to experience all of its benefits:
- Sugary foods such as soda, cake, ice cream , and candy.
- Wheat-based products including grains, starches, pastas, and cereals.
- Fruit (except smaller portions of berries).
- Beans and legumes.
- Tuber and root vegetables (potatoes, carrots and parsnips included).
- Processed low-fat dietary supplements.
- Condiments containing high amounts of sugar.
- Alcohol (due to high carbohydrate content).
- Processed sugar-free diet foods (they can contain high levels of alcohol-based sugars).
Putting it All Together
In conclusion, ketogenic diets emphasise the presence of cheese, meat, eggs, olive oils, nuts, and dark chocolate. If you happen to be eating out, try to select meat- or fish-based entrees. Select vegetables as opposed to carbohydrates or starches. Choose a tasty cheese platter for dessert.
While the keto diet is normally safe for healthy people, you still might experience some initial side effects. Often referred to as the “keto flu”, these can include sleeping issues, hunger, nausea, indigestion, and decreased energy when exercising. Some will therefore choose to begin with a low-carb diet in order to allow their bodies to acclimate.
As this type of diet can deprive your body of some minerals, these supplements may help:
- 3,000 to 4,000 mg of sodium.
- 300 mg of magnesium.
- 1,000 mg of potassium.
Keep in mind that it is important to avoid restricting your caloric intake when beginning this type of diet. While such a lifestyle can be ideal for those who are looking to lose weight or who are diabetic, it might not be appropriate for anyone desiring to add lean muscle mass.
As with any diet, hard work and commitment are keys to your success. Ultimately, the nutritional and weight-loss benefits of this lifestyle cannot be denied!