“The ketogenic diet, or keto diet for short, has gained significant popularity in recent years as a way to help people lose weight, improve metabolic health, and enhance cognitive function.
Does it work or not? Outlined below is some information for those wishing to learn more about the keto diet, including its principles, potential benefits, potential risks, and practical tips for getting started.
Understanding the Ketogenic Diet:
What is the Keto Diet?
The ketogenic diet is a low-carbohydrate, high-fat eating plan that encourages the body to enter what is known as a state of ketosis. In ketosis, the body primarily burns fat for fuel instead of relying on carbohydrates.
Principles of the Keto Diet:
The primary principle of the keto diet is to significantly reduce carbohydrate intake while increasing consumption of healthy fats and moderate protein. This shift in macronutrient ratios triggers the body to produce ketones, which serve as an alternative energy source.
Benefits of the Keto Diet:
1. Weight Loss: The keto diet has shown promise in promoting weight loss, particularly in individuals with excess body fat. By reducing carbohydrate intake, the body taps into its fat stores for energy, leading to increased fat burning.
2. Improved Blood Sugar Control: The keto diet may benefit individuals with type 2 diabetes or insulin resistance by reducing blood sugar and insulin levels. It can help stabilise blood sugar fluctuations and improve insulin sensitivity.
3. Enhanced Mental Clarity: Many individuals report improved mental focus and clarity while following the keto diet. This may be attributed to the stable energy supply from ketones, which provide a steady source of fuel to the brain.
4. Potential Therapeutic Applications: The keto diet has shown promise in certain therapeutic applications, such as epilepsy management, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and neurodegenerative diseases. However, further research is needed in these areas to determine if this is correct.
Potential Downsides of a Keto Diet
There are potential downsides that must be understood with a keto diet. One of the signs of going into ketosis may include ‘keto flu’ which includes symptoms such as an upset stomach, headache and fatigue. Other symptoms of ketosis may include bad breath, constipation, insomnia, dehydration, lowering of bone density, raised cholesterol and kidney stones. The diet is very rigid and some may find it difficult to follow.
Practical Tips for Implementing the Keto Diet:
1. Calculate Your Macronutrient Ratios: To achieve ketosis, it's crucial to determine the appropriate macronutrient ratios for your specific needs. Typically, the keto diet consists of 70-75% fat, 20-25% protein, and 5-10% carbohydrates.
2. Choose Healthy Fat Sources: Focus on consuming healthy fats such as avocados, nuts and seeds, olive oil, coconut oil, and fatty fish. Avoid unhealthy trans fats and heavily processed oils.
3. Minimise Carbohydrate Intake: Restrict high-carbohydrate foods like grains, starchy vegetables, sugary treats, and most fruits. Instead, prioritise low-carb vegetables, berries in moderation, and small amounts of low-carb, high-fibre fruits.
4. Stay Hydrated and Monitor Electrolytes: When transitioning to a keto diet, increased water loss can lead to electrolyte imbalances. Ensure adequate hydration and consider supplementing with electrolytes, particularly sodium, potassium, and magnesium.
5. Be Mindful of Protein Intake: Although protein is an essential part of the diet, excessive protein intake can hinder ketosis. Opt for moderate protein sources like lean meats, poultry, fish, and plant-based protein options.
The ketogenic diet is a unique approach to nutrition and has gained some recognition for its potential health benefits. By significantly reducing carbohydrate intake and increasing healthy fat consumption, individuals may experience weight loss, improved blood sugar control, increased mental clarity, and potential therapeutic effects. However, there have been a number of critics of the diet due to its strictness and lack of variety in terms of foods and so nutrition. It is essential to consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian before starting the keto diet, especially if you have any underlying health conditions.
1. Paoli, A., Rubini, A., Volek, J. S., & Grimaldi, K. A. (2013). Beyond weight loss: a review of the therapeutic uses of very-low-carbohydrate (ketogenic) diets. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 67(8), 789-796.
2. Gibson, A. A., Seimon, R. V., Lee, C. M., Ayre, J., Franklin, J., Markovic, T. P., ... & Sainsbury, A. (2015). Do ketogenic diets really suppress appetite? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Obesity Reviews, 16(1), 64-76.
3. Bolla, A. M., Caretto, A., Laurenzi, A., Scavini, M., Piemonti, L. (2019). Low-Carb and Ketogenic Diets in Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes. Nutrients, 11(5), 962.
4. Maalouf, M., & Rho, J. M. (2008). Oxidative impairment of hippocampal long-term potentiation involves activation of protein kinase C and is prevented by ketone bodies. Journal of Neuroscience Research, 86(15), 3322-3330.
5. Kosinski, C., Jornayvaz, F. R. (2017). Effects of Ketogenic Diets on Cardiovascular Risk Factors: Evidence from Animal and Human Studies. Nutrients, 9(5), 517.
6. Volek, J. S., Phinney, S. D., Forsythe, C. E., Quann, E. E., Wood, R. J., Puglisi, M. J., ... & Feinman, R. D. (2009). Carbohydrate restriction has a more favorable impact on the metabolic syndrome than a low fat diet. Lipids, 44(4), 297-309.