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What is the Keto Diet?
Your body uses ‘macronutrients’ as energy. They comprise of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Carbohydrates are used first because they are the easiest for your body to breakdown, followed by proteins and then by fats.
Usually, carbohydrates make up about 45% to 65% of our meals, which help to fuel us. Too many carbs like sugar, for example, can lead to weight gain and possible heart disease.
The idea of the keto diet is to get your energy from fats instead of carbs, a metabolic state known as ‘ketosis.’ This happens when either your carb intake is very low or when you haven’t eaten for a while. Your insulin levels fall and your body releases fat to provide energy which goes to your liver. Then, your liver turns some of this fat into ‘ketones.’
The Benefits of the Keto Diet.
This diet has been around since the 1920s where it was and still is used to help children with epilepsy.
Many people go on this diet to lose weight. It can be also effective in the short-term, for improving glycaemic control and cardiovascular risk in people with Type 2 diabetes and, it can increase levels of ‘good’ cholesterol in your body.
Moreover, this diet has been shown to help to improve the performance of athletes participating in endurance sports.
It is very difficult to adhere to because of the food restrictions.
It is hard to plan because you have to be careful that you are getting the nutrients that your body needs.
It can take your body a while to adapt to burning fat instead of carbs. At the beginning of this diet, you could develop ‘keto flu’; symptoms including headaches, fatigue, brain fog, increased hunger, poor sleep and nausea. However, these symptoms only last for a few days. Also, your breath could smell because of the ketones and you could become constipated. Nevertheless, these side-effects would go in a few weeks.
Even though the keto diet is safe for the short-term, there is no evidence as yet, that states it is safe for the long-term.
Who is the Keto Diet Not Suitable for?
It is not suitable for pregnant women, those with a low BMI, anyone with Type 1 diabetes, pancreatitis, or liver failure.
Foods You Can Eat on this Diet.
- Meat with fat on.
- Fatty fish
- Full-fat dairy products like cheese, milk, butter and eggs.
- Nuts and Seeds
- Healthy oils like extra virgin olive oil.
- Low carb vegetables such as broccoli, cucumber, kale, lettuce and brussels sprouts.
- Salt and pepper
- A few berries.
- Tea and coffee.
Foods to Limit or Avoid on the Keto Diet.
This is why the keto diet is hard to adhere to. Foods to limit or avoid are:-
- Surgery foods
- Grains or starches
- Beans or Legumes
- Sweet potatoes
- Carrots and other root vegetables
- Low fat or diet products
- Sugar-free diet foods
If You Decide to Try this Diet.
Initially, consult your doctor, especially if you have any health concerns. You could try gradually reducing your carb intake before attempting the keto diet to see what happens.
Make sure you drink plenty of water, at least 2 litres because your initial weight loss is water.
Eat more salt.
Avoid intense exercise until your energy improves.
Don’t forget there is no evidence that shows the long-term effects of this diet, good or bad, so it’s recommended that you only do it for a few months and gradually re-introduce carbs back into your diet.
As it is a difficult diet to stick to and because of the food restrictions, it could be an idea to buy keto meal plans like these from TryLowCarb.com
Sources: trylowcarb.com, mayoclinic.org, healthline.com, gosh.nhs.uk, bda.uk.com, lloydspharmacy.com, livestrong.com, thesporting.blog
6 thoughts on “Your Basic Guide to the Keto Diet”
I tried this diet and it was not easy. It works but it’s hard to maintain. And we must pay attention to the yoyo effect when we return to a normal diet. If you gain all the weight you lost, you are no further ahead.
Thanks for the insight, Rachel. I’ve tried modified versions of Keto, but have never gone full bore. I think I like pasta too much. 😉 Thanks for sharing!
That’s the thing. I love pasta and potatoes, too much!
I know a lot of people who swear by this diet. I’ve never tried it because I know I wouldn’t be able to stick to it. I love potatoes, bread and pasta…and so does my family. Plus, all that fat doesn’t sound heart healthy to me.
That’s the thing. I think it’s ok for the short term but nobody knows how it could affect us in the long term.
That’s what concerns me. I know people who have been doing it for years.