Would you like to be able to lose weight and still be able to eat things like butter, bacon, meat, cheese, and heavy cream? It may sound crazy, but there is actually a diet out there where you can freely eat those foods and still lose weight. The ketogenic diet, also known as the keto diet, is one of the most currently talked about diets.This weeks post will give you a little insight into this diet to help you decide whether or not it is the right fit for you.
1. The keto diet has been around for almost a century
Many of you have probably heard about the ketogenic diet as a popular new approach for weight loss. Even though this diet has grown in trendiness and buzz over the past few years, the ketogenic diet has actually been around for decades, initially being introduced back in 1920.
2. The keto diet is used for the management of epilepsy
One of the medical applications of the ketogenic diet is as nutrition therapy for the management of epilepsy. Seizure control has been shown to improve after 2 to 3 days of fasting and the ketogenic diet offers an approach that yields the effects of starvation in the body without causing malnutrition.
3. On the keto diet your body burns fat for energy
Carbohydrates traditionally function as the body’s main source of energy. On the ketogenic diet however because your intake of carbohydrates is so low (typically less than 20 grams per day) your body is forced to use fat instead (in the form of ketone bodies) as its main energy source. The keto diet typically aims to provide anywhere from 80 to 90 percent of total calories from fat, 6 to 15 percent from protein, and 2 to 10 percent from carbohydrate depending on which ketogenic diet ratio is being followed (for example, 4 grams of calories from fat to every 1 gram of calories from carbohydrate and protein combined (4:1 ratio), versus the 3:1 and 2:1 ratios).
Starchy vegetables and sweeter vegetables like potatoes, corn, peas, and carrots (to name a few), are not allowed on the diet in order to successfully keep the carbohydrate intake low enough to induce ketosis. You can also say goodbye to other tasty carbohydrate rich foods like pasta, bread, fruit, cereal, rice, ice cream, and chocolate. One of the drawbacks of restrictive diets that cut out entire food groups, is that when you cut out those specific groups of foods, you’re also losing out on the healthy nutrients they provide. Fruits and whole grains for example, which are not allowed on the keto diet, are a great source of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients.
4. The keto diet is high in saturated fat
One of the primary concerns of dietitians, nutritionists, and other health professionals when it comes to the keto diet is whether or not the higher intake of fat will negatively affect cholesterol levels and cardiovascular health. Saturated and trans fats are known to increase your bad cholesterol levels (LDL cholesterol) which can increase your risk for heart disease and stroke.
Saturated fats are primarily found in meats and high fat animal and dairy products, which as we discussed earlier many of those foods can be eaten in large quantities on the keto diet.
After looking into some of the research on the ketogenic diet’s effect on cholesterol levels I found mixed reviews. If you decide to give the keto diet a try, my personal recommendation would be to keep an eye on your cholesterol levels, especially if you already have a history of hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol). Also aim to choose more heart healthy unsaturated sources of fat, such as avocados, walnuts, almonds, and olive oil.
5. The Ketogenic diet can help suppress your appetite
One of the positive side effects of the keto diet, is having a decreased appetite which can be a helpful factor in weight loss success. Lower appetite is achieved with the higher fat and moderate protein content of the keto diet which offers more satiety (fullness) with meals. A study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that when the body was in ketosis, there was a decrease in the body’s hunger hormone ghrelin and an increase in the hormone leptin which tells our bodies when we are full. These hormonal changes can make it easier for you to avoid overeating and promote weight loss.
Is it possible to lose weight on the keto diet? Yes it is. Research shows it is possible, and I personally know people who have. I think the real question is, will the keto diet be a practical longer term solution for you? Will you be able to cut out major carbohydrate players like fruit, bread, pasta, rice, cereal, ice cream, and chocolate? If like me, your answer to this is no, then this diet is probably not a practical long term approach for you and could potentially just lead you back on the path of yo-yo dieting.
It is always important to consult your physician prior to beginning any new diet or exercise program and it’s wise to remember that we all have different medical histories to consider when determining which diet and lifestyle approach is best for you. I hope this week’s post gave you a little more understanding of the ketogenic diet. Stay tuned for next week’s post with more diet and fitness tips to help you Royally Rock Your Diet.
The Diet Duchess