People have a variety of reasons to lose weight – to look fit, to prepare for a competition, and to be healthy, just to name a few. There are also a lot of methods to lose weight, such as taking dietary supplements, implementing dietary changes, and working out. One fitness trend that is gaining the interest of many nowadays is the ketogenic diet in conjunction with working out.
Ketogenic Diet: What Is It?
The ketogenic diet, or keto diet, is a diet consisting of extremely low levels of carbohydrates and high levels of fat. This means those on the keto diet will have to dramatically reduce their carbohydrate intake and replace it with fat and protein. In this type of diet, the body is brought to a metabolic state called ketosis, wherein it is forced to burn fat instead of carbohydrates into energy. This process also transforms fats into ketones in the liver; these ketones are then taken up by the brain for fuel.
Given the reduction in carbohydrates, keto diets have been known to cause huge reductions in insulin levels and blood sugar levels.
How Does Ketogenic Diet Work?
The usual meal in a keto diet is composed of 60%–75% fat, 15%–30% protein, and 5%–10% carbohydrates.
- In the first two to seven days into the keto diet, the body will not have enough carbohydrates to create energy and thus the body will undergo ketosis. It will be forced to rely on ketones, which are organic compounds from fat that the body can use for energy instead of sugar from carbohydrates. This idea is enticing to a lot keto diet practitioners because it essentially solves one the most common fitness problems – losing fat.
- Eating a lot of carbohydrates will make the body retain fluid in order to store the sugar from carbohydrates in the body. Conversely, low amounts of carbohydrates in the diet will cause the body to lose excess fluids, in a way causing one to lose weight.
- A lot of people switch to the keto diet mainly because of these reasons. With enough time and discipline, the keto diet appears to be a good way to lose fat and lose weight.
Ketogenic Diet 101
Before you proceed with trying out the keto diet, here are some more information about the keto diet that you might want to know:
- Undergoing ketosis isn’t exactly the most comfortable feeling: If you want to follow the keto diet, expect to feel a bit uncomfortable at the start. Because your body will start to look for carbohydrates before utilizing fat, it’s common for keto practitioners to feel symptoms similar to irritable bowel syndrome while undergoing ketosis. Called the keto flu, these symptoms can include headaches, cramps, mental fog, nausea, and lightheadedness. You may also feel a bit dehydrated as you run low on electrolytes because the diet causes you to urinate more frequently.
- Interestingly, the keto diet wasn’t really originally designed for weight loss: The keto diet was really designed to help people who are suffering from epilepsy. The keto diet allows the body to produce not just ketones but also decanoic acid, which can help minimize the seizures associated with epilepsy.
- The keto diet can help treat certain conditions: There are sources that say the keto diet helps to treat certain conditions. For instance, it can be used to treat diabetes, as the low carbohydrate intake in the keto diet reduces blood sugar levels, reducing the need for insulin. If you have a health condition, it is best to consult with your doctor for proper guidance.
- It is more than a diet: When you undergo a keto diet, don’t think of it not just as a “diet,” but rather a “way of eating” – in short, a way of life. This is because the keto diet isn’t just something that you can “start” and then “finish” when you no longer feel like it. In fact, it’s not recommended that you jump on and off the keto diet as it can mess up your body and your metabolism. A yo-yo keto diet may even cause you to gain more weight. If you want the diet to be effective for you, you need to incorporate it into your lifestyle and do it consistently.
- You cannot rush the keto diet: A lot of diet advocates tend to brand their chosen diet as “works immediately” and “fast results” to entice a lot of people. Even though you can see a lot of individuals benefiting from keto, remember that this took them careful planning and a substantial amount of time to achieve. In fact, a lot of success stories in keto often involve people with a substantial amount of fat and weight to lose, which is also the case with most diets. However, you can achieve the best effects of keto when you start with small steps and you are consistent with the diet.
- Customizable keto programs actually exist: More than one version of the keto diet are available – the standard keto diet, the targeted keto diet, the cyclical keto diet, and the high-protein keto diet, among others. The basic principle remains the same; you need to follow the percentages for carbohydrates, fat, and protein in order to be successful in your keto diet. There isn’t really a “magic number” that will make you undergo ketosis. If you’re not losing weight with your current keto diet, you’re free to customize the plan according to your needs and goals.
- Food is plentiful even if you follow the keto diet: While you’re going to cut out carbohydrates from your system, a lot of protein and healthy fats are still available from various food sources. Meats, eggs, and some vegetables actually work very well with the keto diet. Perhaps before you fully undertake the program, do visit a grocery store in order to get a good assessment of just how much food you’re going to need, what products and produce are available, and how the program will affect your overall budget once you fully consume a keto diet.
- Getting full is easier with keto: Carbohydrates may make you feel full faster, but proteins will make you stay full longer and fat will signal your body to tell you to stop eating. With that said, this dietary program can help you save on your expenses because you don’t need much food to get full in a day. Not only that, but the customizable nature of the keto diet can make it easy for you to mix and match meal plans you like. Thus, the keto diet is actually something that you can enjoy eating; it is not boring at all!
- Ketogenic breath and farts are normal: Some things that turn off people from the keto diet is having a “dragon breath” and “keto farts.” Dragon breath is the bad breath that’s normally associated with the keto diet. As mentioned earlier, when the body switches to fat as an energy source, ketones are produced. Ketones can be released through exhalation, thus the “bad” breath. The high amounts of fat in the keto diet will also cause some changes in your digestive system, resulting in loose stools and keto farts. However, these unwanted side effects are temporary. They will go away once your body has adjusted to the diet. For the meantime, increase your water intake to help flush out the ketones into your urine, maintain a good oral hygiene, and be patient as it will not be long before all of these effects will subside.
- Get ready as the keto diet may affect your workout: Alongside ketogenic flu, anticipate that the keto diet may also affect your workout. Remember, you may lose some endurance and strength as you begin your keto diet. This is because your body has been conditioned to use high-energy carbohydrates instead of fat for a very long time. Just give it time. You’ll notice an increase in strength as your body finally gets to adjust to being dependent on fat and protein as sources of energy.
- The keto diet may not exactly be for you: It’s important to remember that not all bodies respond the same way and have the same needs. If you feel as though the keto diet isn’t working even if you’ve been doing it for a couple of months already, do not be disappointed with yourself. It’s perfectly okay to stop and turn to a healthy and balanced diet instead of pushing yourself into keto. There may be potential health risks if you continue with something that your body is not compatible with it. The most important thing is to feed your body with the right nutrients it needs to be healthy and to have an active lifestyle.
- Check with your doctor before you get into the diet: Because the keto diet was originally prescribed to people with specific illnesses, consult with your doctor first before fully following the program. This is important to ensure that you’re good to go and there are no risks in consuming keto meals. Be careful in pursuing the keto diet if you have conditions that need you to be extra careful with your food intake or if you have particular allergies that you need to be particularly aware of.
The Bottom Line: The Ketogenic Diet Needs to Be Planned with Care
With the above into consideration, it’s important to remember that the keto diet does work for a lot of people, but “a lot” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s something all people should do. Remember, just because a diet works for someone doesn’t mean it’s automatically suitable for you. Use the information above to guide you in your weight loss journey with the keto diet.