The ketogenic diet is a very low carb, high fat diet that shares many similarities with the Atkins and low carb diets. It involves drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat. This reduction in carbs puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis.When this happens, your body becomes incredibly efficient at burning fat for energy. It also turns fat into ketones in the liver, which can supply energy for the brain.
Ketogenic diets can cause significant reductions in blood sugar and insulin levels. This, along with the increased ketones, has some health benefits.
Different types of ketogenic diets
There are several versions of the ketogenic diet, including:
Standard ketogenic diet (SKD): This is a very low carb, moderate protein and high fat diet. It typically contains 70% fat, 20% protein, and only 10% carbs (9Trusted Source).
Cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD): This diet involves periods of higher carb refeeds, such as 5 ketogenic days followed by 2 high carb days.
Targeted ketogenic diet (TKD): This diet allows you to add carbs around workouts.
High protein ketogenic diet: This is similar to a standard ketogenic diet, but includes more protein. The ratio is often 60% fat, 35% protein, and 5% carbs.
The information in this article mostly applies to the standard ketogenic diet (SKD), although many of the same principles also apply to the other versions.
What is ketosis?
Ketosis is a metabolic state in which your body uses fat for fuel instead of carbs. It occurs when you significantly reduce your consumption of carbohydrates, limiting your body’s supply of glucose (sugar), which is the main source of energy for the cells.
Following a ketogenic diet is the most effective way to enter ketosis. Generally, this involves limiting carb consumption to around 20 to 50 grams per day and filling up on fats, such as meat, fish, eggs, nuts, and healthy oils. It’s also important to moderate your protein consumption. This is because protein can be converted into glucose if consumed in high amounts, which may slow your transition into ketosis. Practicing intermittent fasting could also help you enter ketosis faster. There are many different forms of intermittent fasting, but the most common method involves limiting food intake to around 8 hours per day and fasting for the remaining 16 hours. Blood, urine, and breath tests are available, which can help determine whether you’ve entered ketosis by measuring the amount of ketones produced by your body. Certain symptoms may also indicate that you’ve entered ketosis, including increased thirst, dry mouth, frequent urination, and decreased hunger or appetite.
A Ketogenic Diet to Lose Weight and Fight Metabolic Disease
Obesity and metabolic diseases are major health problems worldwide. In 2016, obesity affected 13% of adults globally. Obesity is a risk factor of metabolic syndrome, a cluster of metabolic abnormalities, including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high waist-to- hip ratio, and low HDL (good) cholesterol. To combat this, many diets have emerged, including the ketogenic diet, in which a person consumes a very limited amount of carbohydrates. Some research suggests this diet may have benefits for people with obesity. However, some experts have questioned the health benefits of the keto diet and called for more research. While it may help you lose weight, there may also be complications.
What is a ketogenic diet?
A ketogenic diet is high in fat, moderate in protein, and low in carbs; As carbs are reduced and fat is increased, the body enters a metabolic state called ketosis. Then the body starts turning fats into ketones, which are molecules that can supply energy for the brain. After a few days or weeks on such a diet, the body and brain become very efficient at burning fat and ketones for fuel instead of carbs. The ketogenic diet also lowers insulin levels, which can be beneficial for improving insulin sensitivity and blood sugar management. Staple foods on a ketogenic diet include meat, fish, butter, eggs, cheese, heavy cream, oils, nuts, avocados, seeds, low carb vegetables. In contrast, nearly all carb sources are eliminated, including grains, rice, beans, potatoes, sweets, milk, cereals, fruits, some higher carb vegetables.
Ketogenic diets and weight loss
There’s evidence that ketogenic diets can help with weight loss. They may help you lose fat, preserve muscle mass, and improve many markers of disease. Some studies have suggested that a ketogenic diet may be more effective than a low fat diet for weight loss, even after matching the total calorie intake. In one older study, people on a ketogenic diet lost 2.2 times more weight than those on a low calorie, low fat diet. Triglyceride and HDL (good) cholesterol levels also improved. However, both groups reduced calorie consumption by a comparable amount, and this may have increased weight loss.
How do ketogenic diets promote weight loss?
Here’s how ketogenic diets promote weight loss:
Higher protein intake. Some ketogenic diets lead to an increase in protein intake, which has many weight loss benefits.
Gluconeogenesis. Your body converts fat and protein into carbs for fuel. This process may burn many additional calories each day.
Appetite suppressant. Ketogenic diets help you feel full. This is supported by positive changes in hunger hormones, including leptin and ghrelin.
Improved insulin sensitivity. Ketogenic diets can drastically improve insulin sensitivity, which can help improve fuel utilization and metabolism.
Decreased fat storage. Some research suggests ketogenic diets may reduce lipogenesis, the process of converting sugar into fat. This is because excess carbs are stored as fat. When there’s a minimal intake of carbs, fat is used for energy.
Increased fat burning. Several studies have found that ketogenic diets may slightly increase the amount of fat you burn during rest, daily activity, and exercise, although more research is needed.
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