Keto Diet: Why You Should Try it
Photo by Marco Verch (Flickr)
by Moyosola Tijani
The ketogenic diet involves the consumption of highly fatty foods, a moderate amount of protein and very little carbohydrate-rich foods. The keto diet is commonly used as a weight loss strategy, however, it has many other benefits which will be explained later in this article. The name is derived from the fuel-like molecules called ‘ketones’ which are produced by the body. They are a source of energy just like glucose. Ketones are produced in the liver from fat and they are a fuel source for the brain. This may be the reason why many people on this diet have reported that their level of concentration and focus has increased significantly. There are two main versions of the ketogenic diet: the standard ketogenic diet, which is a very low-carbohydrate (5%), high fat (75%) and average protein (20%) diet and the high-protein ketogenic diet, which is very similar to the standard keto diet, but it involves the consumption of more protein; about 35% protein to be precise. The less conventional versions of the keto diet - targeted and cyclical keto diets - are used by athletes and bodybuilders.
The most common benefit of the keto diet is weight loss, because the body uses up most of the fat as its fuel source, burning it up and reducing the overall body weight. The level of the hormone insulin – which is responsible for the storage of energy as fat and glycogen – is reduced. The keto diet is quite advantageous because it facilitates fat loss without the discomfort of hunger.
Studies have also shown that epileptic patients on the keto diet had a significant reduction in the frequency of seizures. However, there is no clear cause of this effect. The ketogenic diet has been shown to control blood-sugar levels in type 2 diabetes and it has also reversed the disease in some cases. This is because the ketone produced lowers the blood-sugar level. Type 2 diabetes patients on the keto diet have reported a reduction in the need for medications and side effects of high insulin levels.
The keto diet also increases mental performance. This is because the brain is fueled by ketone, which is a very effective brain fuel. People often report a noticeable improvement in mental clarity and concentration. The keto diet improves the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It results in less cramps and pain and a calmer stomach. These effects are often experienced in only a few days after starting the diet.
Ketogenic diets increase physical endurance by boosting the body’s access to the energy in fat stores. This allows you to endure many hours of intense exercise. The other benefits of the keto diet include: less acne flare ups, fewer migraine attacks, reversal of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and normalizing blood pressure. This diet has also been known to reduce the frequency of heartburns.
The most common side effect of the ketogenic diet is ‘keto flu’, which often occurs a few days after you start the keto diet. The symptoms include headaches, dizziness, fatigue, brain fog and light nausea. Other side effects include: leg cramps, constipation, reduced tolerance to alcohol and keto breath. It is important to ease the body into the diet by slowly cutting out carbs from your diet. The symptoms of the keto flu can be reduced by consuming enough water and salt.
You need to inform your doctor before you start this diet if you are a type 2 diabetes patient. The keto diet is quite controversial, and it is surrounded by many myths. It is often confused with the dangerous ketoacidosis. Most of the side effects of this diet are temporary. However, if they remain for more than a few days, then you should visit the doctor.