What is Ketogenic Diet
Ketogenic (Keto) diet is a very low carb-high-fat diet. The diet is to a certain extent similar to the Atkins diet and other low-carb plans. However, unlike these diets, the consumption of proteins in this diet plan is limited.
Under the ketogenic diet, the intake of carbohydrates is strictly restricted with an allowance of less than 50g a day. This lowers the levels of carbohydrates (glucose) in the body triggering a metabolic state known as ketosis.
Ketosis and Weight Loss
During ketosis, the body turns to fat as the preferred source of energy. The fat is broken down in the liver into ketones which are then used to fuel the whole body including the brain. As a result, most of the stored body fat is burned off, achieving a dramatic weight loss. The diet causes a healthy decrease in the levels of insulin, the fat-storing hormone. Once individuals start the plan, it takes on average three days to achieve this metabolic state. Generally, ketogenic diets are effective in improving body composition since most the weight lost during the plan is primarily fat.
The keto diet is more than just a weight loss strategy. The diet is also a treatment and an alternative preventive measure for numerous health conditions.
Ketosis and Medical health
The ketogenic diet has been used as an effective treatment for epilepsy for a long period of time. In individuals with this condition, it was noticed that seizures disappeared or decreased in both severity and frequency during starvation. The diet achieves this by reducing the amount of blood sugar in the body and this creates a fasting metabolism which the body interprets as starvation. The diet has been used mostly in individuals with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and other similar generalized and hard-to-control epilepsies. The diet is also effective in those with partial seizures and is usually started with an initial period of starvation.
Other health conditions include;
- Heart disease
The diet lowers some of the predisposing factors such as body fat, cholesterol (HDL) levels, blood glucose and the consequential blood pressure.
- Alzheimer’s disease
The ketogenic diet may slow the disease progressions and minimize symptoms in patients.
- Parkinson’s disease
The diet through its health improvements may reduce the significance of the symptoms.
By balancing hormones and through less intake of sugar, the diet helps improve and in some cases eradicate acne.
Side effects and adverse reactions
Transitioning into the state of ketosis can cause undesirable effects in most people. These include nausea, fatigue, constipation, headaches and lack of mental clarity/concentration. Other side effects include hypoglycemia and kidney stones. Ketoacidosis, a violent reaction to the diet, can occur in diabetics. It is, therefore, important to consult and enlist the supervision of a qualified and experienced doctor before implementing the diet plan.
Generally, adopting a mild or moderate application of the diet can improve your overall wellbeing. Additionally, for athletes, a short-term ketogenic diet help increase sports performance.