The ketogenic (keto) diet has existed for nearly a hundred years, but it is only in recent times that it has become well known.
There are many scientific studies to prove that it works. It is not a fad like many diets, and this is why it is highly respected.
It helps you lose weight and at the same time makes you healthier. When you go on a ketogenic diet, you are providing your body with essential nutrients, while naturally detoxifying it from chemicals that may be causing you harm.
The keto diet pays particular attention to low carbohydrates (carbs), which the body changes into energy to help accelerate weight loss.
What is wrong with high carbs, and why should they be avoided? Carbohydrates are transformed into glucose, and this causes insulin to spike up. The insulin then flows into the bloodstream to break down the glucose, which turns to the leading source of energy.
When insulin spikes up like this, it may result in more fat being stored by the body. The body utilizes carbs and fats as energy. The carbs are used as the primary source. So the more carbs you eat, the less fat is being used for energy. In turn, the insulin spike causes your body to store more fat.
If you were to eat fewer carbohydrates, the body would go into what is known as ketosis. The name for the ketogenic, low-carb diet derives from the word ketosis.
A state of ketosis assists the body to be able to survive on lesser food. By being in this state, you train your body to use fats as the principal source of energy in place of the carbs, especially since there will be deficient amounts of cards, to begin with.
While in ketosis, the liver turns fats into ketones, which results in the body to utilize the fat as the primary energy source. While on a ketogenic diet, you do not starve yourself of calories. Instead, you starve the body of carbohydrates. This process results in more natural and more effortless weight loss.
The ketogenic diet is not difficult, but many are confused by it. It takes some understanding and discipline, like with anything new that you may be learning. However, in the end, you’ll feel great, you’ll look fantastic, and you’ll be mentally sharper.
What Is The Ketogenic Diet?
The ketogenic diet is based on a very low carbohydrate diet. Still, it is different than other low-carb diets (such as Paleo or Atkins) in that it purposely manipulates the ratios of protein, carbs, and fats to make fat the primary source of energy the body will use.
Generally, our bodies use carbohydrates as the go-to fuel. Fats are usually the secondary source of fuel and are seldom used. This is what makes the body store it as extra fat, and this is how you gain unwanted weight.
The only means of reducing fat in an ordinary diet is to eat less fat and workout a lot to burn more calories than you take in. This is a significant reason why traditional diets don’t work for most people.
On the contrary, with the ketogenic diet, fat is what is used for fuel, and for this reason, it will not be stored in the body. The result is a natural weight loss. Another advantage of the ketogenic diet, besides losing weight, is that it is also considered a “healing” diet.
There is evidence that avoiding or minimizing sugar intake helps and even prevents many diseases such as high blood pressure, cancers, epilepsy, heart disease, and others due to aging.
Manipulating protein, carbs, and fats are of utmost importance to get into a state of ketosis. Since the body is deprived of the ordinary sugar and carbohydrates, it is forced to utilize fat as its primary source of fuel. So the ratio of fats and protein will be much higher than carbs in a keto diet.
Also, eating fewer carbs will result in lowering the amount of insulin released in your body. Less insulin equals less glucose and fat being stored. This is a significant reason why the keto diet has been able to help those with diabetes. It naturally fixes the sugar levels.
The ratio of proteins, fats, and carbs can differ from one person to another. Some people consume up to 50 grams of carbohydrates a day and are still able to lose weight.
On a stricter ketogenic diet, the carb intake may be from 15 and 20 grams per day. The lesser amounts of carbs consumed, the faster the weight loss. The keto diet is flexible, and this is a reason why it is better than most diets.
On the keto diet, you don’t give much heed to your calorie intake. Instead, you watch your carbs and balance them against your fat and protein intake.
A standard keto diet will consist of a calorie ratio of 60 percent from fat, 15 to 25 percent from protein, and 25 percent from carbohydrates. The only precaution on the ketogenic diet is to avoid sugar.
Benefits of Keto Diet
Although the ketogenic diet is generally known as a ‘quick fat loss diet,’ there is much more beneficial value to it. Weight loss with the keto diet is just the tip of the iceberg. There is scientific, factual evidence that the keto diet has helped with so many medical conditions.
Here is a list of proven medical benefits that a keto diet has been successful in:
Controls Blood Sugar
Keeping blood sugar at minimal levels is an essential factor that helps manage and even prevent diabetes. There is plenty of evidence that the keto diet has been extraordinarily successful in preventing diabetes.
Many people that have diabetes are also overweight. This makes an easy weight-loss plan a perfect solution. The ketogenic diet does even more than this.
When people with diabetes eat carbohydrates, it gets converted into sugar. For the diabetic, this process results in a quick sugar spike. However, a diet low in carbohydrates, such as the keto diet, prevents these sugar spikes from happening and allows blood sugar levels to be controlled better.
Better Mental Focus
As already discussed, the ketogenic diet is based on manipulating fats, protein, and low carbohydrates. This makes the fat become the primary source of fuel. Ordinary western diets lack many nutrients, especially fatty acids, which are a requirement for peak brain function.
People that have brain problems or diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, one of the culprits is the lack of glucose use. When the brain lacks glucose, the result is a lack of energy.
This makes it strenuous for the brain to function at an average or higher level. The ketogenic diet helps boost the brain with the energy it needs to function correctly.
A study by the American Diabetes Association discovered that people with type 1 diabetes enhanced their brain function after eating coconut oil.
That same study reported that people who suffer from Alzheimer’s might also improve their memory on a keto diet. Those with Alzheimer’s have seen much better memory scores that may be connected to the number of ketones present.
How does this study affect people in general? Brain tissue is made up mostly of fatty acids. When on a keto diet, you will increase the consumption of fatty acids, such as Omega 3 or Omega 6, that are found in seafood and oils. This results in enhanced brain health.
The human body is not able to not produce fatty acids on its own; these acids can only be obtained through a special diet. The ketogenic diet is the perfect diet because it is plentiful in fatty acids.
A high carb diet can lead to what is called a “foggy” brain. This is where you have a hard time focusing. With a ketogenic diet, your mental focus becomes sharper due to the increased energy provided. There are many people that do not use the keto diet to lose weight but to enhance brain activity and function. It can be called a smart pill.
Increases Energy Levels
High carb diets have a tendency to leave you feeling tired and drained. Fat is considered a better and more efficient source of energy because it makes you feel revitalized.
The ketogenic diet is known mostly for weight loss. However, there is one positive benefit that catches people by surprise. It has to do with your skin. A keto diet seems to make it healthier by reducing acne and making your skin glow. Many people get acne, especially teenagers. But there are plenty of adults that also suffer from acne.
It has always been believed that acne was mostly due to poor dieting. However, research is still in progress on this issue. A large number of people have reported that their skin cleared dramatically while on a keto diet. There may be a scientific truth to this. A study first published in 2015 showed that high levels of insulin in the blood was a probable cause for the eruption of acne in humans. In this respect, since a keto diet gets insulin low and healthy levels, there is a possible connection to skin health claims.
Also, inflammation is a significant root cause of acne. The ketogenic diet reduces inflammation, which helps the body to decrease acne outbreaks. Fish, which is a significant part of a keto diet, has plenty of fatty acids that have been proven to be anti-inflammatory.
While research is underway, it appears that a keto diet can make your skin healthier and brighter.
Slows Aging Process
Many of the common diseases occur due to the aging process. Studies have been conducted on mice that resulted in brain cell enhancement on a ketogenic diet.
There are also numerous studies done on people with Alzheimer’s disease that had excellent results while they were on a keto diet. What is considered a fact is that a diet that consists of low sugar, antioxidants, healthy fats, and high protein, improves overall health dramatically. It detoxifies the body of harmful chemicals.
Several studies have also shown that the use of fatty acids as the primary source of fuel can slow down the aging process. This may be due to the adverse side effects sugar has on the body.
Furthermore, just by eating less, it improves your essential health, and it fends off obesity and its adverse side effects.
So far, there have only been a few studies, but taking the overall positive results of a ketogenic diet, it is common sense that it would make a person age more natural and slow the aging process as a whole. The ordinary western diet is filled with sugar, and this is a detriment to the aging process.
Most diets do not work because people wind up feeling hungry and begin splurging on food. Alternately, a diet filled with low carbs like the Ketogenic diet will leave people feeling full, and their mind will not give a hunger signal. Feeling less hungry results in remaining on a diet longer while eating unnecessarily.
Improves Eye Problems
Diabetes produces high blood sugar, and this can have a higher risk of the development of cataracts. Since the ketogenic diet has the ability to control sugar levels, it can, as a result, enhance eyesight and possibly prevent cataracts. There is evidence to support this notion in studies that were conducted on diabetic patients.
A ketogenic diet improves brain function. Studies have been conducted on people with autism while they were put on keto diets. The results showed astonishing improvements in autistic behavior.
Helps With Blood Pressure
An astonishing 33 percent of the US population suffers from high blood pressure. It is a severe medical condition that can cause strokes and heart attacks. Overweight people and the aging process can exacerbate or bring on high blood pressure.
People with blood pressure problems are generally on medication to help control it. However, these medications can and do have side effects. Normal blood pressure is considered to be 120/80.
Hypertension is the root cause of high blood pressure. The exact cause has not been determined, but we do live in a fast-paced and stressful world, and it seems that every year, there is an increase in people having to deal with high blood pressure.
It is well established that people with high blood pressure are frequently overweight and can be at a higher chance of getting Type 2 Diabetes. To control this, the medical condition requires a lifestyle change.
You can get high blood pressure if you eat too many carbohydrates. As mentioned earlier, when carbohydrates are eaten, they are converted into sugars.
And since there is more sugar in the blood, the body reacts by producing more insulin. Insulin is known to store fat, and too much fat leads to gaining unwanted weight. This chain reaction just described will cause adverse effects on your blood pressure.
If you were to eat fewer carbohydrates, the level of insulin and blood pressure would drop. Just following this dietary change will make a big difference in your blood pressure.
In a compelling study conducted by the Archives of Internal Medicine, 146 obese people participated in a weight-loss experiment. These people were divided into two separate groups.
One of the groups was given a ketogenic diet, which contained no more than 20 grams of carbohydrates. The other group was given a weight-loss drug called “Orlistat.” That latter group was also monitored to follow a strict low-fat diet.
The result of the study shows that both groups lost similar amounts of weight. The surprising part of the study was that half of the group on the keto diet showed a drop in blood pressure.
In comparison, only about 21 percent of the low-fat diet group that was on Orlistat had any changes in blood pressure. While weight loss alone helps lower blood pressure, the study shows being on a keto diet lowers blood pressure even more.
It was discovered that potassium had a big part in lowering hypertension. It is recommended that anyone suffering from high blood pressure to take, at a minimum, 4,700 mg of potassium per day.
Some foods high in potassium:
Beet Greens – One cup, cooked, will give you a whopping 1309 mg of potassium
Avocado – Half of an avocado will provide you with 487 mg of potassium.
Spinach – three cups of raw spinach has 558 mg of potassium.
Acorn Squash – one cup of cubes will give you about 486 mg of potassium
Tomato – One cup, cooked, provides you with 523 mg of potassium.
Sweet Potato – One baked medium sweet potato, with the skin, has 450 mg of potassium.
Bananas – One medium-size size banana has 425 mg of potassium.
Lima Beans – One cup, cooked, will give you 969 mg of potassium.
Coconut Water – One cup has 600 mg of potassium.
White Beans – One cup of cooked white beans has 829 mg of potassium
Dried Apricots – Only six dried apricots will give you 488 mg of potassium.
Pomegranate – One will provide you with 666 mg of potassium.
Salmon – Three ounces will give you about 500 mg of potassium.
All of the above foods can be consumed while on a ketogenic diet. However, attention should be paid to the sweet potatoes, lima beans, and white beans because they could have too many carbs.
Keto Diet Helps Epilepsy
The first time the ketogenic diet was used, it was not intended to be used to lose weight or to control diabetes. The diet was initially created in 1924 to help people suffering from epilepsy.
Epilepsy is a disorder that attacks the nervous system, which can cause seizures unexpectedly. The symptoms can vary from convulsions, spasms, or an abnormal, emotional view of the world. Epilepsy is caused by unusual brain activity. The magnitude of the symptoms differs from person to person. An individual will only be diagnosed as a person with epilepsy if he or she has two or more seizures in 24 hours. Epilepsy can affect someone at any age, but it mostly impacts children, probably because their brains are not fully developed.
Seizures are ordinarily controlled by drugs. But drugs don’t work 100% of the time.
In 1924, Dr. Russell Wilder of the Mayo Clinic, made an innovative discovery when he created the ketogenic diet to assist children who had epilepsy. At the time, it was extraordinarily productive, but the medical community lost interest in it when new anti-seizure medicines were created and used instead. It was an easier job for doctors to prescribe medication instead of talking about a natural diet plan that may have healed them.
Currently, doctors are returning to their roots and are using the keto diet to help treat their epileptic patients. The results have been remarkable.
A study that involved 150 children who suffered from seizures were given a keto diet. Three to six years later the results were astounding. 107 out of 150 families responded to a questionnaire that was sent to them. Thirty-five other families were contacted by phone.
Four others were lost to a follow-up, and four other children had died for reasons not connected to the diet. Of the original 150 children, 20 or 13% were free from seizures and another 21 or 14% had a 90% to 99% reduction in seizure episodes.
Twenty-nine were off all medications, and 28 other children were on only 1 medication. 15 children stayed on the diet.
The doctors even went as far as to consider the diet as a more effective treatment than the medication themselves.
For anyone who has children that suffer from seizure attacks, it would be a good idea to discuss with a doctor the possibility of putting the child on a keto diet.
More studies have been conducted on children with epilepsy. New interest has surfaced within the medical community concerning the health benefits of a keto diet.
Ketogenic Diet And Cancer
Prior to the 20th-century, cancer was not considered a severe disease. But today’s lazy lifestyle, along with unhealthy diets, has turned cancer into a deadly disease.
While all cancer treatment should be done under the guidance of your doctor, it would be a great idea to talk about the keto diet with him or her and how it can help in treating the disease.
A ketogenic diet created explicitly for a cancer patient would be made up of up to 90% fat. There would be a logical reason for this. The medical community is aware that cancer cells thrive off sugar and carbohydrates.
As has been explained, the keto drastically reduces carbohydrate and sugar intake. In essence, the ketos diet removes the “food,” of which cancer cells need to multiply and spread, thus starving them. Several things can happen. The cancer cells can decrease, die off, or increase at a slower rate.
Another critical factor to consider, a keto diet reduces calorie intake, and this would slow down the growth of cancer cells. They will have less energy to spread and cause further damage.
Insulin also aids in the growth of cancer cells, and since the keto diet diminishes insulin levels, it will slow down the growth of these malignant cells.
When you go on a ketogenic diet, your body will produce ketones. As the body gets fueled by ketones, cancerous cells will not. Therefore, when the body is in a state of ketosis, it can reduce the spread and size of cancer cells.
One study watched the growth of tumors in people that had cancer of the digestive tract. For the people that were given a high carb diet, their tumors increased by 32.2 %. The people on the keto diet had an increase of 24.3 % growth in their tumors. In medical terms, the difference is quite remarkable.
In yet another study, five patients were given a keto diet together with chemotherapy. Three of these them went into remission. The other two saw a worsening of the disease when they went off the diet.
From what research has discovered so far, the ketogenic diet can:
1. Stop cancer cells from growing.
2. Replace cancer cells with healthy cells.
3. Alter the body’s metabolism and help “starve” cancer cells by depriving them of the nutrients to spread.
4. Lowering the body’s insulin levels, thus preventing the growth of cancer cells. While following a keto diet, your fat intake would be 75 to 90 %, protein 15-20 %, and carbohydrates would be less than 5 %.
Foods to Eat
1. Eggs, including the yolk
2. All types of green, leafy vegetables.
3. Cauliflower, mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, and avocados.
4. Eat full-fat dairy products.
5. Eat nuts such as sunflower seeds, almonds, and pumpkin seeds.
Foods to Eat in Moderation
1. Have one serving of vegetables with roots per day.
2. Fruits, one per day.
3. A glass of wine, whiskey, vodka, and brandy once a week. No cocktails with sugars.
4. A piece of dark chocolate with 75 % or higher in cocoa once a week.
Foods to Avoid
1. Any foods that are littered with sugar, such as juices, sodas, sports drinks, and all sweets. Artificial sweeteners should also be avoided.
2. All Starchy foods, such as bread, pasta and potatoes, rice, cooking oils, and margarine.
3. All types of beers.
This article has answered many important questions concerning the ketogenic diet, its effects, health benefits, foods to eat or avoid, and much more.
I genuinely hope that the information provided here will help you on your journey to better health. Always talk to your doctor before deciding to take any action with the ketogenic diet