A ketogenic diet (keto) is a very low-carb diet. It has many potential benefits for rapid weight loss, health and performance, but also sometimes has initial side effects.
A ketogenic diet is similar to other strict low-carb diets, like the Atkins diet or LCHF (low carb, high fat). These diets often end up being ketogenic more or less. The main difference between strict LCHF and keto is that protein is restricted in the keto diet.
A keto diet is designed specifically to result in ketosis. It’s possible to measure and adapt to reach optimal ketone levels for health, weight loss, or for physical and mental performance.
Getting into ketosis is not a black or white thing. It’s not like you’re either in ketosis, or out of ketosis. Instead, you can be in different degrees of ketosis, as this chart demonstrates.
2. What are the health benefits of a Keto or Low-carb (carbohydrate) diet?
Rapid Weight Loss Turning your body into a fat-burning machine has obvious benefits for weight loss. Fat burning is vastly increased while insulin – the fat-storing hormone – levels drop greatly. This creates ideal circumstances in which fat loss can occur, without hunger.Around 20 scientific studies of the highest class (RCTs) show that, compared to other diets, low-carb and ketogenic diets result in more effective weight loss
Reverse diseases such as Type 2 diabetes A ketogenic diet is excellent for reversing type 2 diabetes, since it lowers blood-sugar levels and the negative impact of high insulin levels.
Other Diseases which can be positively affected with a low-carb or Ketogenic diet:
Metbolic Syndrome: There are many studies showing that low-carb diets improve markers of metabolic syndrome such as blood lipids, insulin levels, HDL-cholesterol, LDL particle size and fasting blood sugar levels.Improvements have been shown to be even greater when carbs and protein are restricted to a the point of being steadily in nutritional ketosis.Epilepsy: The ketogenic diet is a proven medical therapy for epilepsy that has been used since the 1920s. Traditionally it has mainly been used in children with uncontrolled epilepsy despite medication.More recently it has also been tested successfully by adults with epilepsy, with similar good results. There are many randomized controlled trials that demonstrate the effectiveness of the ketogenic diet in decreasing seizures in patients with epilepsy.And others: Acne, Alzheimer’s, Cancer, Migraines, Parkinson’s disease.
Improve mental focus Ketosis results in a steady flow of fuel (ketones) to the brain. And on a ketogenic diet you avoid big swings in blood sugar. This often results in the experience of increased focus and improved concentration.A lot of people use keto diets specifically for increased mental performance.
less sugar cravings A low carb diet without sweeteners is very effective at reducing sugar cravings. Not only will you feel satisfied, but also your cravings for sweets will also be significantly reduced.For many people this is enough to stay away from sweets, enabling weight loss, type 2 diabetes reversal and other health benefits. But if you’re truly addicted to sweet foods then low carb is just a necessary start. You may also need to learn about other tools and tricks to stay sugar free and reap the benefits.
Increased physical endurance Ketogenic diets can vastly increase your physical endurance, by giving you constant access to all the energy of your fat stores. The body’s supply of stored carbohydrates (glycogen) only lasts for a couple of hours of intense exercise, or less. But your fat stores carry enough energy to easily last for weeks or even months.
3. Do I have to reach “ketosis” in order to experience the benefits?
No. Many of the benefits, such as weight loss, are experienced at lower levels of ketosis (at least above 0.5). There are indications that you might need to reach higher levels of ketosis for high-level physical performance.
4. What are some side-affects of a Ketogenic or low-carb diet?
While ketosis is normally safe, it is common to experience some time-limited side effects.
Induction Flu (keto flu)
People transitioning from sugar-burning to fat-burning mode often initially experience side effects. This is referred to as the keto flu, since symptoms are similar to those of the flu: fatigue, nausea, headaches, cramps, etc.
There are two main things that one can do to prevent or alleviate these symptoms: Drink water with salt and lemon – alternatively have a daily cup of bouillon. Gradually reduce carbohydrate intake – stopping suddenly results in more temporary symptoms.
Constipation Constipation is another possible side effect, especially during the first time on a low-carb diet, as your digestive system may need time to adapt.
Here are the three steps to cure it, perhaps you only need the first one: Drink plenty of fluid and get enough salt. The most common cause of constipation on low carb is dehydration. This makes the body absorb more water from the colon and thus the contents get dryer, harder and constipation can result. The solution is to drink plenty of water and perhaps add some extra salt. Eat plenty of vegetables or another source of fiber.
Leg Cramps Leg cramps are not uncommon when starting a strict low-carb diet. It’s usually a minor issue if it occurs, but it can sometimes be painful. It’s a side effect of the loss of minerals, specifically magnesium, due to increased urination. Here’s how to avoid it: Drink plenty of fluid and get enough salt. This may reduce loss of magnesium and help prevent leg cramps. If needed, supplement with magnesium.
5. Should I exercise while on a keto or low-carb diet?
It depends on what type of exercise. There is clear evidence now that endurance, especially ultra
endurance exercise, a low-‐carb high-‐fat diet is actually beneficial because you can maintain your blood sugar level with that having to constantly replenish carbohydrate supplies.
The question is whether for very intense exercise, you need some additional carbs. And some people seem to, some people can manage on low-‐carb. So there’s a little bit of individual variation there.
If you are just starting a low-‐carb high-‐fat diet, it may be detrimental to your exercise routine for the first couple of weeks. So, if you are exercising it is recommended to pull it back a notch, just during the first couple of weeks. But after that time period, low-‐carb high-‐fat really can be beneficial for your exercise. Because you are winding up fat-‐adapted, your energy is coming from your stored fat.
6. Are there any supplements available for Keto weight loss?
Why yes! If you are into fitness and want to exercise for the many benefits of cardiovascular and weight-loss, you will want to try these great KETO products: