The latest buzzword (keto) to hit the diet world has triggered an intense debate about its health benefits and potential risks.

A keto diet includes foods that offer few amounts of carbohydrates, sufficient amounts of protein, a lot of healthful fats. In essence, the keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet.

So, how can you consume fat and still lose weight? How does it work?

When you eat less fat and more carbs, it forces your body to depend on fats for its primary source of energy instead of glucose. And when this happens, your body will start to break down fats instead, forcing your body to go into ketosis. If the body breaks down fats, it can also induce weight loss.

What Does A Keto Diet Contain?

Some may find switching to a keto diet difficult, but it doesn’t need to be overwhelming. You just need to concentrate on limiting carbs and eat more fat and protein foods. 

To reach and maintain a state of ketosis:

  • Fats should account for about 75 percent of your overall calorie intake.
  • Proteins should deliver approximately 20% of what your energy needs.
  • Restrict carbs to about 5%.

When on a keto diet, your meals and snacks should include these foods:

  • Seeds and nuts: Flaxseeds, peanuts, walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, and macadamia nuts.
  • Poultry: Turkey and chicken
  • Eggs: organic and pastured eggs
  • Vegetables (Non-starchy): Peppers, broccoli, mushrooms, tomatoes, and Greens.
  • Meat: Bison, organ meats, beef, pork, and venison.
  • Fatty fish: mackerel, herring, and salmon.
  • Full- fat cheese: Cream cheese, Brie, cheddar, goat cheese and mozzarella.
  • Dairy: cream, butter, and yogurt.
  • Nut butter: Natural peanut, almond, and cashew butter.
  • Avocados: Whole avocados
  • Healthy fats: Sesame oil, avocado oil, olive oil, coconut butter, and coconut oil.

Foods to Avoid On Keto

Avoid high-carb foods when on a keto diet. Food to avoid includes:

  • Sugar
  • Beans
  • Potatoes
  • Milk
  • Grains
  • Wheat
  • Sweetened beverages
  • High-carb sauces

To induce ketosis, you must consume about 20 to 50g carbs if you eat 2,000 calories each day. You also need to keep protein to a moderate amount, since it hinders ketosis and causes the body to produce glucose. 

The Benefits Of The Keto Diet

In recent years, the keto diet has become so popular. In fact, keto is one of the most popular diet searches. Yes, the craze is real! Well, that’s because there has been a lot of success stories, plus the diet has caught the interest of people who find it hard to lose weight.

While the keto diet receives credit for helping people to lose weight, studies indicate other benefits are possible with keto.

Supports Weight Loss

The ketogenic diet can enhance weight loss in many ways. First, it reduces appetite and increases metabolism. A typical keto diet includes foods that can fill you up and reduce hunger. 

In a controlled trial, researchers found that people who were on the fad diet lost two pounds more when compared to people who followed a low-fat diet.

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Keto Diet May Improve Athletic Performance 

A study shows that keto improves athletic performance, particularly endurance training. Also, keto diets may allow athletes to depend mostly on stored fat for fuel when exercising instead of refueling with carbs during endurance activities.

Keto Diet May Protect Brain Function

2019 review shows that the ketones your body produces while on a keto diet offers neuroprotective benefits. What this means is they can protect and strengthen the brain cells. As a result, a keto diet may help you avert or manage diseases like Alzheimer’s. But more research is needed to determine the effects of the diet on the brain.

Keto May Improve Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) Symptoms

PCOS is a hormonal disorder among women. Sufferers may have excess androgen (male hormone) levels, prolonged, or irregular menstrual periods.A high-carb diet may cause unfavorable outcomes like weight gain and skin issues in people with this disorder. Although the clinical research on the PCOS and ketogenic diet are few, a 2005 pilot study tested 5 women over 6 months. The study showed that a keto diet improved many PCOS markers.

This includes:

  • Hormone balance
  • Weight loss and fasting insulin levels

Keto Diet May Reduce Seizures

The Epilepsy Foundation indicates that ketosis can lessen seizures in epileptic people. Thorough research is, however, needed to determine how the keto diet help reduce seizures. But it appears to have more effect on children with focal seizures.

A 2019 study backs the hypothesis that a keto diet can reduce epilepsy symptoms.

Keto Diet Controls Blood Glucose Levels

If you have diabetes, going keto may help you manage your blood glucose levels. For example, a study revealed that restricting a high-carb diet may reduce the need for type 2 diabetes medications.

The Keto Diet Dangers

Yes, the benefits mentioned above are great, right? However, before you go keto, it is vital to know the potential keto diet risks.

Staying on the keto diet for a long time can cause the following health issues:

  • Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
  • Excess protein in the blood
  • Kidney stones
  • Fat in the liver

Also, the diet can cause severe side effects that most people call “keto flu.” These side effects may include:

  • Low tolerance for exercise
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Low blood sugar
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Headaches

These side effects are often common as soon as you start the diet because the body needs to adapt to its new source of energy. The trials that reviews, analyzes, and evaluates keto diets only follow participants for at most 24 weeks to 1 year. As a result, scientists don’t understand the long term effects yet.Further, the risks also depend on what you eat. If you eat unhealthy foods with lots of saturated fat, you may likely develop stroke and heart disease. Likewise, carbohydrate raises blood sugar levels, and so it is justifiable that reducing it will give you your money’s worth. However, some carb diets offer health benefits too. Carbohydrate foods contain fiber. That means you need carbs to keep you fuller and to maintain a healthy gut microbiome.

Take Away

It is difficult to make definitive conclusions on any diet since people respond to various diets differently. Moreover, there is a contention that nutrition studies aren’t rigorous.Studies indicate that people who follow a low-carb diet see a massive increase in LDL cholesterol levels. However, others may experience little to no change.For those who try the keto diet, it’s vital to cut down foods that contain saturated fat and eat foods with unsaturated fats. Most importantly, speak with a doctor or dietitian for advice and know if you are prepared to commit to it long term.

You need to create a healthy eating plan that suits your lifestyle – a plan you can stick to for a long time. You want to know why? The diet plan you choose can only work if it’s part of your lifestyle.

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