Ketogenic Diet 101: All You Need to Know About the Keto Diet
The Keto diet first blipped on the diet fad radar back in the 70s. Before that, doctors used this fringe diet plan as a way to prevent seizures in Epileptic patients.
The crux of the Keto diet is that the body runs on sugars harvested from the carbs in our diet. The average person stores up to 2,000 calories worth of sugars, mostly in the liver and muscles, which it then burns through in around 48 hours, depending on the level of exertion and stress the body is put through.
This is when something amazing happens.
The body flips a switch and a sneaky survival mechanism, mastered through thousands of years of sweet human evolution kicks in.
Once the sugar’s burned up, and having no choice, the body turns towards the stored fat, which is then converted into fuel called “ketones”. The process is called, being in a state of ketosis, or more specifically registering a 0.5 to 5 millimoles of ketones per liter of blood.
While there have been a few similar diets, such as the, Last Chance Diet and Optifast, the latter was endorsed by Oprah, most have merely become a footnote in the history of diet programs.
Research on the Ketogenic diet surged during the 90s thanks to The Oprah Effect and people like Dan Duchaine, credited with being the driving force behind the steroid movement of the early 90s, and yes, reviving the Keto diet as a way for bodybuilders to cut fat quickly before competitions. But, interest in the Keto diet was short lived.
It was not until 2013, that a new, nutritionally woke generation started to warm up to the low-carb diet plan.
With benefits ranging from reduced hunger, increased focus, turbo-charged fat burning, and a laundry list of other benefits, the Keto diet once again began trending on Google, this time fueled by many self-proclaimed lifestyle gurus, Instagram before-and-after photos, science-backed evidence and the Kardashians.
For those who are stoked about the Ketogenic diet, here we’re going to take a dive off the deep end to see what’s all the fuss about.
What is a Ketogenic Diet Anyway?
As compared to the standard diet in the US, the Keto diet has low amounts of carbs, while being high in fat. Once the body adopts to a Ketogenic diet, it stops using glucose and carbs that much since it switches to fat and ketones as a source of energy. This change is mainly the result of the body breaking increased amounts of fats along with the initiation of the oxidation process within the body.
This change results in noticeable improvements in the body, such as increased stamina, weight loss and an overall improvement in a person’s health. While these are notable benefits it’s important for those planning to use the Keto diet to understand that the exact amount of fats, proteins and carbs used in a Keto diet varies from person to person.
While the Keto diet is any diet that forces the body to turn to the stored fat as a means of fuel, it can only be considered a ketogenic diet if the amount of carbohydrates is drastically reduced in one’s diet.
Ketogenic Diet Vs Low Carbohydrate
While low-carb diet and Keto diet are sometimes used interchangeably, the truth is, just because a Keto diet is low in carbs, does not make it similar to the traditional low-carb diet. This is mainly because there are no hard and fast rules on what gets to be called a “low-carb diet,” the result is that even a diet that is made of 30-40% carbs is often considered to be a low carb diet.
There’s also a raft of evidence which supports scientist’s claims that there is a correlation between the high percentage of carbohydrates in the traditional American diet and the many metabolic syndromes and illnesses, not to mention, obesity that’s prevailing in the US.
While it is a proven fact that lowering the amount of carbs in a diet can have health benefits, it needs to be stated that the Keto diet is very different from the traditional low-carb diet.
The ratio of macronutrients that’s used in the Ketogenic diet is 5-10% carbohydrates, 65-80% fat, and 15% protein. Also, glucogenic substrates, in other words, foods which increase the level of glucose in the bloodstream are restricted in the Keto diet, for the body to achieve a higher level of ketosis.
A number of benefits have been attributed to being able to attain a state of ketosis, which will be explained later on in detail. In one study, diets containing 30gms, 60gms, and 100gms of carbohydrates were given to a group on a daily basis, who were monitored.
At the end of the experiment, researchers found that those who were on the diet containing the lowest amount of carbohydrates were able to achieve a higher level of ketosis, and lose more body fat as compared to the others.
Ketogenic Diet vs. Traditional Atkins
Another common misconception with the Keto diet is that many people mistake it for being similar to the Atkins diet, again, since both focus on the low-carb approach to dieting. In reality, there are many differences between the Ketogenic diet and the Atkins diet.
One of the major differences between the two is that while the Atkins diet follows a low-carb diet plan, at first, there’s a period where the intake of proteins and carbohydrates is increased, while the intake of fat is decreased, which is very different from the Keto diet.
In comparison, the sole purpose of the Keto diet is to force the body to use up the stored fat to produce ketones to create energy. This is the reason why the metabolic substrate that’s created by the body via the Keto diet is called ketone bodies, which acts as fuel for the body.
Now, with the Atkins diet, the metabolic nature of the body is a lot different when compared to the metabolic traits of the Keto diet.This is mainly because the carbs and proteins that’s taken during the diet leads to an inconsistent state of ketosis, as a result the body is unable to reach the level of efficient ketosis as with the Keto diet.
This is the reason why those who follow the Keto diet are more likely to achieve a higher level of ketosis as compared to those who are on the Atkins diet.
That being said, there are certain variations which can be used in both the Keto and Atkins diet which can result in the body going through a higher state of ketosis. One example of this can be given of the Modified Atkins Diet or MAD, which was designed keeping the traditional Atkins diet in mind.
Under the MAD plan, individuals are allowed to consume a large amount of proteins and fats, while limiting their intake of carbs. This results in a diet that’s somewhat similar to the Keto diet, but still lacks in efficiency when it comes to getting the same results.
The Modified Atkins Diet plan has been used to a large extent on children who have epilepsy, since the diet results in lowering the frequency of epileptic fits.
Macronutrients in the Ketogenic Diet
The ratios and percentages that make up the macronutrients in a Keto diet have been the focus of much debate over the past few years. While there are many wide-ranging opinions on what the best answer should be, scientists have been unable to come to a conclusion, other than the main motivation behind the Keto diet is to make the body learn how to create a sustainable metabolism through the state of ketosis.
According to the majority ofsuggestions, it has been estimated that a 65% and 80% of energy has been derived from the Keto diet while burning fat, while between 15% and 30% is achieved when burning proteins. That said, it is possible to tweak this numbers to achieve the desired result by optimizing the Keto diet.
Keeping that in mind, it is safe to say that the requirements of macronutrients in an individual who attempts to reach a sustainable state of ketosis will vary from person to person. As soon as the body adapts itself to using fat as its only source of energy, known as “keto-adaptation” the production of ketones increases during the state of ketosis, resulting in more energy being gained by using the same process.
Again, it is important to note that there is no single formula to what the ideal level of ketosis looks like, neither is there the perfect example of a macronutrients profile for a person using the Keto diet. That’s because, each individual’s body is different and has different requirements, according to their body composition, activity levels, desired health goals, and a range of other factors which makes each individual unique when it comes to their Keto diet plan.
That said, to get you an idea of what the macronutrient profile of a person looking to use the Keto diet should look like who consumes 2,000 calories per day, with 70% of energy coming from burning fat, 25% from proteins and 5% from burning carbs, you can use the following dietary intake chart:
Fat – Considering fat produces ~9 calories/gram; an individual would need 155gms of fat.
Protein – Considering protein produces ~4 calories/gram; an individual would need 125gms of protein.
Carbohydrates – Considering carbs produce ~4 calories/gram; an individual would need 25gms of carbohydrates.
Again, those using this example of a dietary intake chart should remember that these are just estimates that have been given as an example of what a macronutrient profile or a person using the Keto diet should look like. Of course, these numbers (and their outcomes) are going to vary from person to person, which is why every individual who is contemplating to use the Keto diet for fat loss should consult with their nutritionist or doctor before they try it out for themselves.
Benefits of the Ketogenic Diet
There are quite a few health benefits that have been associated with the keto diet. Once the body enters a state of ketosis it starts to produce and use ketones in the form of a fuel source. This particular fuel source is considered to be far superior as compared to the traditional fuel source which is generated by using up sugars that are the end result of eating a diet rich in carbohydrates. Because of that, those who have tried the keto diet soon start to experience a number of benefits which have been given below. The following are some of the major benefits that users experience soon after using the keto diet.
The cells in our bodies have been designed to utilize both fat and ketones as a source or energy. This means, once the body has adapted to the new source of fuel, the user of the keto diet usually experiences a noticeable surge in their energy. This surge is mainly because of the body is using an energy source that’s bereft of any fluctuations which is commonly associated with traditional fuel sources of the body. Such as, fuel that’s obtained from sources such as carbs, glucose and insulin, which results in the body feeling lethargic after receiving a burst of energy.
Improved Cognitive Ability
It has been found that the human brain prefers ketones as an energy source. This is one of the main reasons why once the body has adapted to the keto diet, one of the first differences that a person experiences is a rise in their cognitive performance. This increased cognitive functionality is mainly found in those people whose bodies have a resistance in making use of insulin as the main source for their fuel. As a result, since the body is unable to turn glucose into fuel, using ketone bodies is the most viable source for fuel for the brain.
Decreases Hunger Pangs
The keto diet has also been found to alleviate urges of hunger, allowing people who are on the keto diet to keep their food intake in check. This has been especially beneficial for those who have a hard time curbing their appetite and are suffering with weight problems or obesity. In this way, the keto diet is useful when it comes to helping people suppress the hormones which have been associated with hunger, which would otherwise be triggered when on a normal diet.
While more research is required to find out the full benefits of the ketogenic diet when it comes to controlling one’s diet, it has been found that dietary fats has the ability to suppress hormones responsible for stimulating appetite. During a study, it was found that those who were on a strict keto diet with no calorie restriction, consumed less calories and felt more satiated as compared to those who consumed a higher number of calories that’s similar to an un-restricted low-fat diet.
Aids in Weight Loss (Body Composition)
One of the reasons for the popularity of the keto diet is because of its possible weight loss properties, which has been associated with following a low carb diet. Since there are many people who are struggling to lower their weight or shed excess weight, the ketogenic diet automatically becomes a more attractive option as compared to many other diet programs. But, the very real correlation between the keto diet and being able to achieve physical transformation is very real when you think about it. After all, the very definition of ketosis is to tap into the body’s reservoir of fat that the body has and burning that fat to create energy for the body.
This not only helps when it comes to generating instant energy using ketones which are used as a fuel source, but since it is using ketones stored in fat cells in the body, the chances of fat cells diminishing also increases. Also, following the ketogenic diet results in less amounts of insulin being circulated in the body which results to the hormone insulin storing a significantly lower amount of fat in the body.
While it is true that along with the ketogenic diet other low-carb diets as well can be beneficial when it comes to reducing body fat, but the keto diet is considered to be far more superior as compared to the average low-carb diet. One of the main reasons behind the success of the ketogenic diet is because a sharp decline in the body-fat percentage has been observed with people who are following the keto diet, which suggests that the keto diet is far more superior as compared to other diet plans.
Furthermore, research has found that by lessening one’s intake of carbohydrates can result in greater fat loss in the body. Keeping this in mind, ketones are known to have anti-catabolic properties that are beneficial when it comes to building muscle. What this means, is when the keto diet is used along with regular exercise it can increase body muscle mass while reducing fat cells in the body.
Traditionally, athletes that are required to have a high level of endurance and stamina in order to compete consume a larger amount of carbohydrates in their diet. This is important since they have to replenish the energy reservoirs in the body.
Since the keto diet restricts the use of carbs in the diet, it might seem like the keto diet is not a good option for athletes. However, according to some groundbreaking research by Dr. Jeff Volek, it has been found that once the body adapts to the keto diet, it increases the level of stamina and endurance, while maintaining the same reserve of glycogen as compared to those who are on a high-carb diet.
The study found that despite of the fact that the athletes were on a keto diet and therefore had a lower carb intake, once their body adapted to the keto diet, the athletes were able to maintain endurance levels by tapping into the body’s large reservoir of fat, using ketones as a source of energy.
Apart from the ketogenic diet having various benefits from increasing energy levels to improve cognitive abilities and reducing hunger pangs, the keto diet also has a number of therapeutic benefits as well. This is the reason why the use of the keto diet can be traced back to the 20s, when it was developed to treat small children who had epilepsy.
The uses of the keto diet has since spread from its origins, but it still offers plenty of therapeutic benefits, which makes the keto diet an attractive option for many people who adopt it. Some of the therapeutic benefits that have long been associated with the keto diet includes, Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s, Bipolar disorder, and a whole range of other benefits.
Is Being on the Keto Diet Safe?
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that the ketogenic diet can be beneficial to most people. Contrary to popular belief, the intake of large amounts of fat does not associate the keto diet with health risks. That being said, further testing and research that’s been conducted has revealed that those who are on the keto diet have nothing to worry about unless they are going through pregnancy or have an underlying health condition such as the following:
Pyruvate Carboxylase Deficiency
Mitochondrial 3-Hydroxy-3-Methylglutaryl-CoA Synthase Deficiency
Medium Chain Acyl-CoA Dehydrogenase Deficiency
Long Chain Acyl-CoA Dehydrogenase Deficiency
Impaired Liver Function
Impaired Gastrointestinal Motility
Impaired Fat Digestion
Gastric Bypass Surgery
Beta Oxidation Defects
It should also be noted that even with the aforementioned health conditions, using the ketogenic diet might be safe as long as you consult with your doctor or physician and follow their guidelines closely.
Isn’t Fat Bad for the Body?
Contrary to popular belief, the consumption of dietary fat is not bad for the body. Unfortunately, these misconceptions have been fixed in the minds of people all over the world because of early research carried out by certain individuals such as Ancel Keys, an American physiologist once dubbed “the diet guru” who studied the influence of diet on health. One of the problems with scientific studies of the time is that there was a lack of solid research, which meant that scientists had no choice but to carry out observational studies, such as the ones carried out by Keys.
This unfortunately create the erroneous perception that fat was bad. While this belief has continued through the years, with time, and after carrying out multiple studies into dietary fat, it has been found that dietary fat is not the villain it was previously thought to be.
Years of scientific research has produced enough hard evidence for us to know that it is not dietary fat alone that is bad for our health. But rather, the pairing of dietary fat with high levels of carbohydrates, such as that found in fast food which is the main culprit behind obesity. According to statistics, more than 70% of Americans are now either obese or overweight. Apart from that, fast food has been found to be the major cause of all the prevalent food-related illnesses and diseases, including obesity and type II diabetes.
What Does Ketosis Mean Anyway?
Our bodies are able to break down dietary carbohydrates into a substrate called glucose, which is then used as energy for the body. This often results in the increase of glucose levels in the bloodstream, which stimulates the pancreas, which in turn, releases the hormone insulin that among other things, is responsible for increasing fat cells in the body and inhibiting the production of ketones.
By cutting down on the amount of carbs in our diet, the level of insulin in the body automatically decreases, which in turn, forces the body to shift its dependence from carbohydrates to fats for the production of energy for the body. During the process of ketosis, fat cells are burned to create ketones in the liver. By restricting the level of carbohydrates, the body enters a state of ketosis which suppresses the levels of glucose and insulin in the body, while increasing the number of ketones which are then used as energy by the body.
During the process of ketosis, the reservoirs of fat that the body has stored through the years, slowly starts to break down to create ketones as an energy source for the body. Most of the cells that are present in the body and the brain are capable of using only two sources of fuel for energy. These two sources are namely glucose and ketones, but it has been found that the body and also the brain is able to function at a higher level when fueled by ketones.
Ketoacidosis vs. Ketosis
There’s a lot of confusion surrounding the processes of ketoacidosis and ketosis. This confusion has been responsible for fueling a high level of uncertainty amongst people and doctors who, as a result, prefer to stay away from the keto diet. It should be noted that both ketoacidosis and ketosis are two very different metabolic states and differ from each other greatly. For instance, ketoacidosis mainly takes place in those who are suffering from type 1 diabetes (also known as diabetic ketoacidosis), which is the result of having an insulin deficiency.
Ketoacidosis is a metabolic state where the glucose level of the body along with the ketones level rise due to little or no production of insulin. This leads to an uncontrollably high production of ketones in the body, and often occurs in an acidic environment which can lead to adverse effects and the possibility of death.
When a person is suffering from ketoacidosis, the cells in the body that are dependent on insulin are unable to receive glucose since the ketoacidosis prevents the blood glucose from entering the cells. As a result, the cells become hungry. On the flipside, the ketogenic diet encourages the production of ketones in the body, but, unlike the ketoacidosis process, the ketogenic diet does this in a safe and controlled manner.
Statistically speaking, in individuals who are on a ketogenic diet, ketones level increases to 0.3-5mM, while those who suffer from diabetic ketoacidosis see the level of ketones in their body rise to 15mM or higher.
Where Do Ketones Produced in the Body Go?
It has been found that as the body adapts to the keto diet, a number of the tissues that are present in the body increase their capabilities to create ketones as a source of energy. There are also some types of tissue that prefer ketones to be their primary source of fuel. This is mainly because of the superior quality of ketones as compared to glycogenic substrates.
Some of the main organs in the body that prefer to use ketones as a primary source of energy is the heart and some parts of the brain. Dr. Stephen Cunnane has been credited with an interesting finding regarding this phenomenon. According to Dr. Cunnane, the uptake of ketones in the brain are almost always proportionate to the production of ketones.
Another interesting finding is that as the level of ketone uptake increases in the body, the uptake of glucose decreases in the brain. That being said, there are some cells which are present in the boy that are simply not capable of utilizing ketones as a source of energy. This is one of the reasons why such cells are often referred to as “obligate glucose users”.
Some major examples of these types of cells are RBCs, and some parts of the brain. That being said, while some people would think that going on a keto diet would be detrimental to the health of such cells in the body since the levels of glucose products in the diet is restricted and glucose levels are hardly present, research has found that there’s nothing to be worried about. This is mainly because these cells are capable of creating glucose in the body by using a process called glucogenesis.
During the process of glucogenesis, the cells are able to create glucose from substances that have non-glucose properties. Basically, what this means is thanks to glucogenesis, these cells will never starve for glucose as a source of energy.
How Long Does It Take to Get into the State of Ketosis?
The answer to this question mainly depends on the metabolic rate, which differs from person to person. This means the duration may vary depending on the individual. While the state of ketosis could be achieved after fasting overnight in some people, in others, the body might not be able to go in the state of ketosis even after a lengthy fast. That being said, when a diet that promotes ketosis is followed, over time, it gets easier for the body to reach a ketosis state and produce ketones that can be used as a source of energy by the body.
Once the keto diet is adopted, over time, the body becomes accustomed to the consistent production of ketones which are then used as energy. In some people, this process might take a week, while in others, it may take several weeks for their body to get accustomed to the ketogenic diet. The time it takes for one to enter a state of ketosis is also dependent on the amount of carbohydrate content in their diet as well as the amount of physical activity that’s part of a person’s daily routine.
Keto-adaptation is the state of the body where cells and tissues increase their capacity to use ketones as a source of fuel. By not depending on traditional glucose metabolism, the process is slowed down, while at the same time, the breaking down of fatty acids for conversion to ketones is ramped up in the body. This ultimately, make the body adapt faster to the new energy source and synthesize it in increased numbers.
Once the body is subject to use ketones as a form of energy, the body also becomes accustomed to the use of ketones as the primary source of energy. The process of keto-adaptation has also been associated with the decreased level of glucose that’s present in the bloodstream, and at the same time, an increased synthesis of ketone bodies thanks to the breakdown of more fat cells to produce fuel.
To help facilitate the body’s use of ketones, the body needs a rise in the amount of transporters and tunnels that are known to transport ketone bodies. As the body becomes adapted to the keto diet, these transporters fire up, building and increasing the numbers of ketones that re used by the body. The increase of transporters for the production of ketone bodies is one of the most important biological modifications that need to take place so that the body is able to make the most out of the surge in ketones.
The latest research has revealed that whenever there is a chronic increase in the number of ketones in the body, there is also an almost simultaneous increase in these transporters. This is why it is so critical for the user of the keto diet to maintain adherence, especially during the initial days of using the keto diet.
Possible Side Effects of Keto-Adaptation
While being on the keto diet has bene known to provide the human body with many health benefits, there have also been some side effects that have been associated with the ketogenic diet. That said, it should be important here to note that while some who are on the keto diet might experience some of these side effects, others might not experience them while following the exact same diet plan. It has also been found that those following the keto diet might experience the side effects at varying degrees, depending on the individual.
It is also important to note that the possible side effects that have been associated with the keto diet are only experienced during the initial days of the keto-adaptation process. The main side-effects that are experienced by individuals at the keto-adaptation stage have been grouped together and are referred to as the keto-flu, since they are mostly flu-like symptoms.
Th keto-flu is a name that is used to describe the side effects of those who are on the keto diet and are going through the keto-adaptation stage. During this stage, some individuals might develop the keto-flu, which occurs due to the body changing its primary source of fuel from glucose to ketone bodies. The switch from a carb-based source of energy to breaking down fat to create energy has been found to come along with certain side effects that are mild and usually last for a few days. The symptoms of the keto-flu are very similar to the common flu, and include:
Increased heart rate
There are some things that one can do to avoid experiencing such side effects and minimize their chances of getting the keto-flu. This will mainly include a well-thought of diet plan which will need to be followed to the last detail. Also, using electrolyte supplementation is another way those on the keto diet can avoid the keto-flu during the keto-adaptation period. Using electrolytes ensures that your body has the required vitamins and minerals to function since your body will be getting less carbohydrates and protein during the initial stages of the keto diet.
Diminished Performance While on the Keto Diet
Apart from experiencing the aforementioned side effects and the keto-flu, some people might also experience a noticeable decrease in their performance or stamina. This is due to the body’s sudden shift from carbohydrates to fat as the main source of fuel. That being said, there’s nothing to be worried about if you do experience a diminished performance while on the keto diet because this side effect too like the other side effects is going to be short lived, and will be only a temporary response of the body while its going through keto-adaptation.
Once the body completes the keto-adaptation process the performance and stamina level returns, and in fact, its increased as compared to using carbohydrates as an energy source. The decrease in the physical performance of some individuals who are using the keto diet can be identified by the following symptom:
Unwillingness to exert the body or exercise
Continuous feeling of fatigue
Decrease in the body’s strength
Decrease in endurance levels
Ever since the keto diet made a resurgence there’s been a raft of research that’s been carried out on the effects of the ketogenic diet. There has also been research done to measure the level of performance of individuals who are on the keto diet as compared to those who are on other diet plans, or are not on any diet. The research hasfound that while the level of performance of a person on the keto diet did suffer, it was only during the initial days of the ketogenic diet.
There have also been further studies that have found that after a period of one month no loss in performance was experienced by those on the keto diet, provided the keto diet plan had been well formulated. Keeping that in mind, it’s safe to say that the planning of the keto diet is the most important part if you want to get the benefits associated with the keto diet.
Since the keto diet does affect the body’s physical performance during the first few days, it’s not advised to use the keto diet if you are about to take part in a competition or any activity that requires a high level of energy. As a rule of thumb, those who are planning to use the keto diet in future will have to give the body enough time to recuperate, which usually requires a period of at least a few weeks for the body to fully adapt to the keto diet and for the restoration of the performance levels.
Increased Loss of Weight while Using the Keto Diet
Once the keto diet has begun some individuals might experience a noticeable decrease in weight, which some people might be concerned with. However, an increase in weight loss is one of the most common reactions to the keto diet mainly because of a lowered consumption of carbohydrate rich foods. While on the keto diet, the intake of carbohydrates is significantly decreased. This results in the drop in insulin levels which leads to the body excreting a lot of water. While that’s happening, the keto diet also encourages the body to start breaking down the stores of glycogen that’s been stored in the body which functions as a regulator of glucose levels in the bloodstream.
For those of you who are unaware, glycogen is a variation of glucose that’s stored in the liver as well as the skeletal muscle of the body. The main cause of the loss of weight during the initial days of the keto diet is the loss of these stores of glucose and water which is burned by the body as a source of energy. The good news is, this loss of weight should not be a cause of any concert by those who are on the keto diet, since the body is able to replenish the water and glucose it needs to function over time. In fact, research has found that being in the state of ketosis balances out every function of the body while results in higher energy levels, as well as the shedding of excess weight.
Keto Side-Effect Hacks
The following are some of the things that one can do to avoid breaking the rules of their keto diet:
Your body has become used to carbohydrates for all your life, so the body is going to go through some changes if it does not get the carbohydrates it is expecting. One of the most common responses to the keto diet as the result of eating reduced amounts of carbohydrates is cravings. There are a number of things that one can do to avoid giving in to these cravings.
Those who plan on following the keto diet should be aware that the human body has been designed to adapt to the state of ketosis, which as a result, decreases the feeling of hunger. Research that was carried out on the keto diet found that when the occupied volume in the stomach of test subjects was increased, they were able to achieve a feeling of fulness.
This was only a perceived fullness, which resulted in the researchers coming to the conclusion that the more the person on a keto diet drank more water or ate food with high volume properties they could achieve a perception of fullness, which helped them curb hunger pangs that are normally associated with any diet. The following are some of the ways in which a person on a keto diet can stop cravings.
Hunger Cravings — One can increase the perceived volume of food that they take by adding in vegetables to their diet that are high in fiber. As mentioned before, you can also drink a large amount of water and increase your consumption of fat from food sources, which are considered as whole food. Some examples of this is avocadoes that’s loaded with fiber.
Sugar Cravings — It is extremely important for all those who are on the keto diet to stay away from all sugary foods and beverages at all costs. One trick that those who are on the keto diet can do is to get rid of all sugar products from their house to avoid giving into sugar cravings. You can also try keto desserts that you can substitute for traditional sugary treats.
Another common side effect of being on the keto diet is unexplained headaches. While headaches that are part of the keto-flu can be extremely annoying and cause much discomfort, the good news is that these headaches along with other symptoms fade away as the body gets accustomed to the keto diet. Apart from that, there are a few ways in which those who are on the keto diet can avoid having headaches in the first place.
Some of the things that one can do to avoid headaches associated with the initial days of the keto diet include, drinking lots of water to replenish the electrolytes in the body. You can also take short naps during the day and eat large amounts of MCTs/fats, which are also known as medium-chain triglycerides. Apart from that, you can also supplement the body with ketones that are of an exogenous nature to avoid headaches.
Cramps are another side effect of the keto diet that can be experienced by some people during the initial days. This is mainly due to the decreasing level of insulin that is in the body and the large amount of water that’s lost, especially during the first few weeks of the keto diet. Cramps are a result of many people simply forgetting to replenish the water that their body has lost. As a result, some individuals get cramps that is sometimes accompanied with dry mouth. The best way to tackle this problem is to make sure that your body stays properly hydrated at all times, and especially during the initial days of the keto diet. As a rule of thumb, those who are following the keto diet are advised to drink lots of water along with replenishing the electrolytes, such as magnesium in their body as well.
Decreased Level of Energy
One of the common complaints of those who are using the keto diet is that of a decreased level of energy. This occurs during the process of keto-adaptation and can also be alarming for some people. The decrease in energy levels occurs due to the body making the switch from carbohydrates to fat burning for energy. The best way to tackle this problem is by simply allowing the body to go through the process of keto-adaptation. To make sure that you have enough energy to function properly during the day you can use MCTs, caffeinated beverages, electrolytes, exogenous ketones and proper sleep to make sure your body is able to function at a suitable pace despite going through the keto-adaptation process.
Speaking of uncomfortable side effects, one of the more uncomfortable side effects of going on the keto diet, at least, for the initial days is constipation. Again, this is mainly caused by the extremely low amount of carbohydrates and water present in the body. As a result, the bowel movements are affected, which leads to constipation. One of the most effective ways of curbing the symptom of constipation is to make sure you drink a large amount of water and increase the amount of fiber rich ketogenic approved foods that will keep you from getting constipated. Another good way of getting rid of this uncomfortable side effect is to increase your daily consumption of electrolytes.
Identify the Different Types of Ketosis
The keto diet that we know of today has a lot to owe to years of research and experimentation which led to identifying starvation ketosis. The concept of fasting has been around for thousands of years, and makes sense when you think about it. When you take the time to understand the meaning of ketosis, it is basically a period of time in which there is an absence of caloric intake in a person. This period can rage anywhere from a few hours to a whole day. The degree of ketosis that can be achieved during fasting mainly depends on a number of factors, from the person’s diet to the number of hours they have stayed away from consuming food to their activity level at the time. The production of ketone bodies in the body mainly depends on the number of hours the fasting is sustained for. In other words, the longer the fasting period the better the chances of the individual entering a deeper state of ketosis.
The various mechanisms that are directly involved in both fasting ketosis and dietary ketosis are more or less alike, but the decrease in the caloric intake often results in the stable and lower level of glucose and insulin levels in the body that are accompanied by the burning of stored fat in the body which is used as energy. George Cahill carried out a groundbreaking study in which he revealed that as the duration of the fasting increased the levels of ketones also increase in the body until they reach a stable state. However, this stable state varies from person to person. Cahill’s research was carried out for 40 days, and the findings made it one of the most influential studies in the keto diet ever conducted.
Nutritional ketosis is referred to as any form of ketosis in which the ingestion of dietary elements such as foods, beverages and supplements is used. Nutritional ketosis can be further divided into various sub-categories such as the following:
This type of nutritional ketosis has been found to replicate the same alterations in the biology of a person as it would if the person was fasting, with emphasis on a restriction on carbohydrates, without their food intake not being completely restricted. Carbohydrates-ketosis can be achieved by following a diet which is low in carbs.
As a result of restricting the intake of carbohydrates the person is able to achieve the same effects as they would fast for a prolonged amount of time. This is also usually accompanied with a significant increase in the levels of the person’s ketone level. Nutritional ketosis is also considered to be an extremely sustainable form of ketosis when it comes to most individuals as compared to fasting ketosis.
That being said, fasting makes up a large portion of the keto diet, and as a result, many people create their own fasting routines that are structured around the keto diet. Another way of achieving this is by using intermittent fasting, which is normally carried out for 12 to 20 hours or by fasting ‘every-other-day’ also known as EOD. These fasting rituals that have been incorporated within the keto diet are dependent mainly on the end results of fasting. While this isn’t a compulsory step that needs to be taken during the keto diet, but it is a well-known method that’s been found to have better chance of increasing ketone production in the body.
Supplemental ketosis is considered to be one of the newer and more popular forms that is used for people to attain a state of ketosis. It has gained in popularity mainly because the high amount of research that’s been carried out on this particular type of ketosis. In supplemental ketosis, the body is able to attain a state of ketosis with the help of a ketogenic supplement that is designed specifically for allowing the person to achieve a higher state of ketosis. That said, it should also be noted here that making the body become keto-adapted does not only depend on the consumption of the supplements.
Because of the use of supplements, the body is able to experience a significant increase in the production of ketones while the supplements also help during the period of the keto flu, which are short term side effects of the keto diet. It has also been shown that the exogenous ketones are capable of improving the level of ketone production within the body. However, the use of such supplementation needs to be combined with a well-planned keto die, or another diet which is able to restrict the intake of carbohydrates to achieve the best results.
One of the most common forms of this type of supplementation which is used in the keto diet is the MCT oils which are also known as medium chain triglyceride oils or other exogenous ketones. The MCT oils are different from the fatty acids that have long chains, mainly because they have the capability to travel directly to the liver from the intestines where it is metabolized in the liver. This is one capability that is simply not present in the alternatives with longer chains. In fact, the long chain fatty acids have to travel via the circulatory and lymph nodes of the body to be metabolized, whereas the MCTs have the capability of being metabolized in order to create ketones instantly once reaching the liver.
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that MCTs have the power to aid in faster production of ketone bodies in the liver. The exogenous ketones on the other hand are synthetic compounds that feature the same traits as the ketone bodies that are found inside the human body which are also known as endogenous ketones. These usually come in different forms and the most common of them all is the ketone esters and the ketone salts.
Alcoholic ketoacidosis or AKA is the state of ketone production in which the body is subjected to consumption of copious amounts of alcohol over a prolonged period of time. This results in the metabolism of the alcohol within the liver which is also capable of producing ketones. Similar to other states of ketosis, alcoholic ketoacidosis is associated with certain changes to the biology of the body, especially at a hormonal level with the promotion of the metabolism of fat production of ketones. It is also important here to note that the alcohol consumption needs to be complimented with a reasonable sugar intake for it to work.
Diabetic ketoacidosis is also known as DKA and can be viewed as one of the major reasons why the keto diet has got a bad name in the past. That’s because it is this diet that’s been responsible for the fear of what occurs during the state of ketosis and is what has kept people from using the keto diet. Those who already have Type 1 diabetes have been found to be more prone to diabetic ketoacidosis and as the result of this form of diabetes, the body is not able to produce insulin normally and so the carbohydrates that’s in the diet are left incapable of entering the tissues that are dependent on glucose as a source of energy. These tissues mainly include the adipose tissues and muscles.
It is because of this forced state of cellular starvation that the body goes through which is why the DKA has been given a bad name in the past. When this occurs, the body has no choice but to find new sources of energy, and as a result, the ketone bodies begin to produce at a rate that is not controllable. The carbohydrates which have been ingested are also present inside the body, while the ketone bodies are being produced which can result in a detrimental situation, since in order for the body to use one as an energy source, the other needs to be significantly depleted. It needs to be clarified clearly over here that DKA is very different from fasting ketosis or nutritional ketosis, as in the latter methods of attaining ketosis, it is impossible for a healthy individual to produce ketone bodies at such a staggering pace, as what would be produced if the individual were suffering from DKA.
Therapeutic Applications of the Ketogenic Diet
The inadequate amount of knowledge regarding the keto diet has resulted in many misinterpreting a high fat diet to be the reason behind the increased level of blood lipids in the body. But, researchers have conducted studies that span years which now show that a diet that’s high in fat is not the sole cause of the increase in blood lipids in the body. The research that’s been carried out has also shown that it is the intake of carbohydrates in the body which is the main cause of the decreasing levels of HDL which is also known as good cholesterol, which is actually extremely beneficial for the human body.
Unfortunately, the lack of knowledge is one of the main reasons why many people use the terms ‘high fat diet’ and ‘western diet’ interchangeably. What’s even worse is that this sometimes results to the misinterpretation of the terms high fat diet being indicative of a keto diet which are two very different diets. Whenever the term ‘high fat diet’ is used it refers to a diet that has high levels of fat, while also being high on carbs. This is one of the major causes of the increase in blood lipids in the body. In comparison, the keto diet is very different from the high fat diet since the ketogenic diet does not have any such effects on the body. Here are two very well researched studies that’s universally agreed upon in the keto diet community:
A diet with less than 20g of carbohydrate being consumed on a daily basis, as compared to a diet that had low-fat ratios and high-carb ratios, was seen to promote 4times greater concentration of HDL in the body.
A diet which was carried out for a period of 12 weeks having a low concentration of carbohydrates led to a decrease in the levels of LDL in the body by almost 10%, along with an increase in the particle size of LDLs by 5%. A decrease in the total levels of VLDL in the body by as much as 19% was also observed. It is important to note that a lower size of particles of LDLs is known to have a higher propensity for developing atherosclerosis, as compared to a LDL particle of larger size.
A ketogenic diet that had been carried out over six months led to a decrease in LDL by 11%.
It is no secret that the keto diet has been found to have many therapeutic benefits for those who are suffering with diabetes and more specifically Type 2 diabetes, which is a disease that’s hallmarked by the resistance to insulin. Keeping that in mind, following the keto diet can result in improved insulin-resistance along with the associated pathological condition by using the following processes. Some other studieshave further revealed the benefits associated with a ketogenic diet, such as:
Patients who had been subjected to an unrestricted keto diet were shown to exhibit characteristics of incidental caloric- restriction, reduction in the levels of serum glucose, improved sensitivity to insulin and an additional reduction in the levels of HbA1c.
Patients subjected to a keto diet showed a decrease in body weight, triglyceride levels, levels of HbA1c in the body, and dependency on medications for diabetes.
The use of the keto diet can be traced back to the 1920s, where it was mainly used to treat children who had epilepsy, who also displayed characteristics of drug resistance to medications that were being used for epileptic syndromes at the time. Since then, the keto diet has been used as a means to curb the negative impact that epilepsy can have on an individual. Studies have revealed that when children had been subjected to a ketogenic diet, almost 12% showed full remission, with as many as 42% experiencing a reduction in the instances of seizures that are commonly associated with epilepsy. Furthermore, the keto diet has also proven to be beneficial for pediatric patients suffering from epilepsy who couldn’t be treated withanti-epileptic drugs.
Cancer is viewed as a disease of the metabolism where glucose has been found to be a major aide in the progression of cancer cells in the body. According to resent studies, it has been found that restricting the intake of carbohydrates in one’s diet can slow down the process of the cogenesis and when attaining a full state of ketogenesis, the therapeutic benefits of the keto diet can further help in fighting cancerous cells. Fasting or being in a state of ketosis might be responsible for increasing the sensitivity of cancerous cells to be affected by the use ofchemotherapy and radiation treatment.
One of the characteristics of Alzheimer’s disease is the resistance of insulin in the brain. This is one of the reasons why the disease is also referred to as Type III diabetes, because it stops critical tissue within the brain from getting the nourishment they need to function properly. Ketones could prove to be an effective way to provide those brain cells with the nourishment they need to function at optimal levels and fight off Alzheimer’s Disease in some patients. This is another reason why the ketogenic form of diet is considered to bebeneficial for the brain mainly because the ketogenic diet is capable of mitigating a major characteristic that’s been associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Those who know someone who has Parkinson’s Disease knows how difficult it can be to treat. That’s because Parkinson’s Disease is caused due to the death of neurons within the brain. Typical characteristics of having Parkinson’s Disease include physical and cognitive impairments along with experiencing tremors which vary in degree of severity. The keto diet has certain neuro protective properties that could help increase the production of energy in the brain and improve the mitochondrial functions.
The keto diet can also lower inflammation and improve motor functions in people suffering with Parkinson’s Disease. There has been a groundbreaking study into Parkinson’s Disease which showed 5 patients who had Parkinson’s Disease adhering to the keto diet. The study also found that the subjects experienced a 43.4% decrease in the Rating Scale for Unified Parkinson Disease, which is promising for those who are looking to lessen the debilitating effects of Parkinson’s Disease, which opens the possibility of someday finding a cure for the disease.
Further studies that have been carried out on Traumatic Brain Injury has found that soon after the trauma, the brain uses a large amount of glucose as a defense mechanism. But, soon after that, the brain grows tolerance to the massive amounts of glucose and stops using glucose. This results to the further inflammation of the soft tissue of the brain.
Because of the ketones having anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties, they have found to reduce the inflammation that’s the result of the trauma along with reducing the intake of glucose to the brain. Keeping that in mind, the keto diet could be therapeutic for the treatment of those who have experienced long-term ramifications of traumatic brain injury. The keto diet can do that by providing the brain with ketones rather than glucose for energy. We already know that large parts of the human brain can function when using ketones without any side effects or complications.
Furthermore, it has been found that the injured brain is still able to metabolize ketones as a source of energy, and laboratory studies carried out on rats have shown the keto diet to be beneficial for improving cognitive performance.
Below are some of the illnesses and medical conditions that the keto diet has been found to be beneficial for with therapeutic applications:
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
Inherited metabolic disorders
Huntington’s disease (HD)
Glycogen storage disease (GSD)
Glut-1 deficiency syndrome (GLUT1-DS)
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
Aging and longevity