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How Does the Keto Diet Work?

The keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet that aims to send the body into a state of ketosis. This means that the body will start burning fat for energy instead of glucose. The diet is similar to other low-carb diets such as the Atkins diet, the Dukan diet, and LCHF diets like the Banting diet, but it stands apart due to its high fat content and moderate protein intake. By limiting carbohydrate intake, the body is forced to use stored fat as its primary source of energy, resulting in weight loss.

What is Ketosis?

Ketosis is a metabolic state in which the body uses stored fat as its primary energy source instead of glucose from carbohydrates. The liver converts stored fat into ketones, which can be used by most organs in the body, including the brain. This process occurs when the body’s glucose stores are depleted, typically after 3-4 days of consuming a very low-carbohydrate diet.

To enter ketosis, the body requires a significant reduction in carbohydrate intake, typically to 20-50g per day. This restriction requires careful planning and strict compliance. An average banana contains 20g of carbohydrates, while a medium baked potato contains 41g, highlighting the need for careful monitoring of carbohydrate intake.

The amount of protein in the diet is also controlled to prevent the body from converting excess protein into glucose. Typically, the diet includes 10-20% protein to preserve lean body mass, including muscle, while maintaining ketosis.

The time it takes to reach ketosis varies depending on factors such as body mass index (BMI), body fat percentage, and resting metabolic rate. It is important to note that ketosis may not be suitable for everyone and should only be attempted under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

In summary, ketosis is a metabolic state in which the body uses stored fat as its primary energy source. This state is achieved by significantly reducing carbohydrate intake and controlling protein intake. While ketosis may offer certain benefits, it is important to approach it with caution and seek guidance from a healthcare professional.

What are the benefits of ketones?

Ketones provide the body with an efficient fuel source during calorie deficits. They also have a protective antioxidant effect.

How to Follow the Keto Diet?

Before starting the keto diet, it may be helpful to focus on liver-supportive foods like garlic and onions. This is because the liver has to work hard to produce ketones. Reducing intake of sugar, caffeine, and alcohol prior to starting may also be beneficial.

When following the keto diet, it is essential to include plenty of non-starchy vegetables such as kale and spinach. These vegetables are low in carbs but rich in vitamins and minerals.

It is important to consult with a GP before adopting this type of diet to confirm its appropriateness and safety.

To follow the keto diet, it is crucial to limit carbohydrate intake to around 20-50 grams per day and increase consumption of healthy fats such as avocados, nuts, and olive oil. Protein intake should be moderate, and it is essential to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.

It may be helpful to track macronutrient intake using a food journal or app to ensure that the diet is being followed correctly.

Eat / Balanced Diet
Balanced Diet

What foods are allowed on a ketogenic diet?

A ketogenic diet typically includes high-fat meats, processed meats, fish, oils, lard, butter, nuts, high-fat dairy such as cheese, and low-carb vegetables such as leafy greens. Additionally, specific fruits such as avocado are allowed due to their low carbohydrate content.

What Foods are Avoided on a Ketogenic Diet?

A typical ketogenic diet involves reducing carbohydrate intake to less than 50g per day. This means eliminating bread, pasta, rice, cereals, and most baked goods. Legumes, beans, root vegetables, sweetcorn, most fruits, and starchy vegetables, such as potatoes, should also be avoided. Additionally, fruit juices, fizzy drinks, cordials, and milk-based drinks must be skipped. It is essential to limit the intake of digestible carbohydrates to maintain ketosis, which is the metabolic state that characterizes the ketogenic diet.

What are ‘Net Carbs’?

‘Net carbs’ is a term commonly used in the keto community to describe the amount of carbohydrates that are absorbed by the body and contribute to calories. To calculate ‘net carbs’, one must subtract the amount of indigestible carbohydrates, such as insoluble fiber and some sugar alcohols, from the total amount of carbohydrates. However, this calculation is not always exact and can be unreliable. It is important to note that in the UK, food labels list ‘fibre’ separately from ‘total carbs’.

What’s the evidence of the keto diet?

The Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD) has been the most researched and appears to help people lose weight and control blood sugar in the short term. The SKD is typically made up of 70-75% fat, 20% protein, and 5-10% carbs. Although the theories as to why keto diets promote weight loss have not been consistently demonstrated in research, a 2013 study suggested that those following a very low-carb diet achieved greater weight loss over a longer period than those following a low-fat diet.

In addition to weight loss, there may be metabolic improvements in insulin resistance and blood pressure as well as cholesterol and blood triglyceride levels. As a result, low-carb diets, including the keto diet, have become increasingly popular for type 2 diabetes management. However, there have been few long-term studies on the keto diet, and its potential risks and side effects are still being studied.

Overall, while the keto diet may be effective in the short term, more research is needed to fully understand its long-term effects on weight loss and overall health.

Does a Keto Diet Work?

Research suggests that a keto diet can lead to weight loss and improve insulin sensitivity in people with diabetes. When compared to a low-fat diet, a keto diet appears to achieve greater reduction in body weight. The initial weight loss at the start of the diet may be rapid, in some cases as much as 10 pounds (4.5 kg) in two weeks. However, this initial loss is typically due to the diuretic effect of the diet, which leads to water loss as stored muscle glucose is used up. Subsequently, fat loss occurs as ketosis continues.

As ketosis continues, people may experience less hunger. Because ketosis is a calorie-consuming process, there is an increased calorie demand to convert fat and protein to ketones. This may result in further fat loss. However, it is important to note that how long weight loss is maintained is dependent on an individual’s ability to adapt their dietary habits once they start to introduce a more balanced and healthy approach to eating.

Overall, a keto diet can be effective for weight loss and improving insulin sensitivity in people with diabetes. However, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new diet.

Is the keto diet healthy? Our nutritionist’s view…

The keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet that has gained popularity in recent years due to its potential for weight loss. However, many people question whether this diet is healthy in the long run. Our nutritionist has reviewed the available evidence and offers her perspective on the matter.

From an evolutionary perspective, ketosis is a natural adaptive response that enabled humans to withstand periods of famine. However, following a keto diet over an extended period of time may have unfavourable consequences for some people. Some of the potential side effects include dehydration, electrolyte disturbances, and hypoglycaemia, as well as symptoms coined ‘keto flu’.

The keto diet also contradicts most people’s understanding of a healthy, balanced diet, which typically promotes the consumption of carbs, protein, and fat. The carb restrictions mean that it is difficult to reach the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Eating high-fat foods is likely to increase saturated fat intake, which UK government guidelines recommend limiting to 30g for men and 20g for women. While most keto diets supply moderate levels of protein, high levels of dietary protein may be an issue if you have an underlying kidney condition.

Is Keto Diet Restricts Carbs?

It’s also worth noting that because the keto diet restricts carbs, it’s typically low in dietary fibre, which may have a negative impact on gut health, including reducing the presence of gut-friendly bacteria. To combat this, it’s important to consume plenty of gut-friendly foods such as leafy greens, fermented vegetables, and certain fats like butter, which provides butyric acid – a gut-supportive short-chain fatty acid.

The symptoms associated with ketosis are often temporary and relate predominantly to dehydration, because of the water loss experienced in the early stages of the diet. These may include headache, dry mouth, bad breath, fatigue, and nausea.

Finally, long-term compliance with the keto diet can be challenging. The limited food choices can severely restrict eating out with family and friends.

In conclusion, while the keto diet may be effective for weight loss, it is important to consider the potential health implications of following this diet in the long term. It is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new diet to ensure that it is safe and appropriate for individual needs and goals.

Who Should Not Follow a Keto Diet?

While the keto diet has many potential benefits, it is not suitable for everyone. Certain groups of people should avoid this diet or consult with their GP before starting it.

Diabetics and Those with Blood Sugar Management Issues

Diabetics and anyone with a blood sugar management issue should discuss the potential implications with their GP and healthcare team before embarking on such a regime. They’re likely to experience complications because of the effect on blood sugar.

Those with Kidney and/or Liver Disease

Anyone with kidney and/or liver disease or a family history of such should avoid the keto diet. The high fat intake can put additional stress on the kidneys and liver.

Children, Elderly, and Those with Pre-Existing Medical Conditions

The keto diet is not recommended for children under the age of 18 or elderly individuals. Additionally, anyone with a pre-existing medical condition should avoid this diet.

Pregnant or Breastfeeding Women

Pregnant or breastfeeding women should not follow the keto diet due to the potential risks associated with the high-fat intake.

Those on Prescribed Medication

Anyone on prescribed medication should consult with their GP before starting the keto diet. Certain medications may interact with the high-fat intake and cause adverse effects.

It’s important to note that anyone considering attempting any form of diet should consult their GP first to ensure they can do so without risk to health.

Overall, the keto diet is not suitable for everyone. Certain groups of people should avoid this diet or consult with their GP before starting it. It’s important to prioritize one’s health and well-being when considering any dietary changes.

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