The ketogenic diet was initially developed during the 1920’s to help individuals who have neurological diseases like epilepsy. This is a moderate protein, high-fat, and low-carb diet.
The goal of this diet is to get your body to reach ketosis. This is a metabolic state where your body starts using fat as its main source of fuel.
The main question is, does the ketogenic diet really work and help you lose weight?
Normally our bodies use carbs as their primary energy source. When you eat carbs they are broken down into sugar, which leads to insulin being produced. This hormone tells your cells to either use this sugar immediately for energy or else store it and use it later.
When you only consume limited amounts of carbohydrates, fatty acids are broken down by your body that are located in the fat stores and this forms ketones which then are released by your liver into the bloodstream.
Basically, ketosis (checkout our ketosis guide) is one of the side effects that come with fasting. In order to trigger ketosis, it is necessary to fast for around three days. Decreasing how many carbohydrates you consume and increasing your fat intake is one proven way to achieve this.
Therefore a ketogenic diet – which involves consuming very little carbs, high amounts of fat and some protein – may be used in order for your body to reach ketosis. In order to get ketosis started and keep it going, you need to eat fewer than 30-40 grams of carbs every day, which is around 5 percent of your total daily calories.
There are three major kinds of ketogenic diets you can use:
- Standard ketogenic diet: Uses the following macronutrient breakdown: 5 percent carbs, 20 percent protein, and 75 percent fat.
- Cyclical ketogenic diet: This version of the diet cycles between standard ketogenic days and higher-carb re-feed days.
- Targeted ketogenic diet: Carbs are increased around your workouts, and then the rest of the time you follow the standard ketogenic diet.
How Does The Ketogenic Diet Affect Your Body?
The first couple of weeks are the most challenging. This is when your body attempts to adapt itself to a different source of fuel. You might suffer a loss of endurance and strength during this time until your body is able to use fats for fuel more efficiently.
It may take your body several months to adapt to using fat more often as its primary source of fuel. So you will need to keep on the diet for a while to make progress.
Also, if you are very active or are an athlete, you will need to make certain that you get enough nutrients since many food groups are cut out of ketogenic diets and you need to make sure that you don’t fall short on minerals and vitamins that are important for your health.
Should You Try the Ketogenic Diet?
Before starting on a ketogenic diet, you should first consult with your doctor.
Over both the long and short term, there are some potential side effects that are associated with following the ketogenic diet.
According to research, a ketogenic diet can help you lose weight, but it is a difficult diet to follow.
Social situations and eating out can be challenging, and it can be difficult to stick with following a very strict intake of carbs.
If you exercise on a regular basis, you won’t get enough carbohydrates on this diet for exercising.
If you take any medication, then it is very important for you to consult with your doctor before you start on a ketogenic diet.
That said, keto has plenty of benefits too, including weight loss. Read our full list of benefits to learn more.
Ketogenic diets involve very low carbohydrate consumption. It is a lower amount of carb intake than what is needed by your body to provide your central nervous system with fuel. That induces the breakdown of fat in your body so that ketones are released and then converted into carbs for your nervous system. This limits how much insulin your body produces and inhibits fat storage as well.
A ketogenic diet definitely can help you lose weight and can be beneficial for those who suffer from epilepsy.
However, there also are potential side effects that are associated with following a ketogenic diet. Some studies have shown that it is safe for adults to follow a ketogenic diet over the long-term, but it can be difficult to follow this type of diet, especially over an extended amount of time.
Over the long term, to main good overall health and desired weight level, it is usually best to stick to a basic diet that is centered around consuming whole foods such as protein coming from beans and leans meat, a colorful assortment of vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and healthy fats like olive oil.
If you eat this type of diet and exercise on a consistent basis, you will eventually reach your weight loss, fitness, and health goals.
UPDATE: I hopped on the Keto bandwagon to start the new year, and so far I am down 8+ pounds in my first two weeks following the diet. It’s been pretty incredible, really.
I have always struggled with my cholesterol and blood pressure a bit, though, so I planning to stick with it for 2 to 3 months and then having my blood panel checked to see its impact on my numbers.
I’ll be posting a full write-up of my Keto experience soon, so be on the lookout for that!