The Keto Diet: Everything You Need to Know

The Keto Diet: Everything You Need to Know

SHARE

by Dr. Randa Ragy, Holistic Nutritionist at Oasis Clinics

Want your body to use up all that stored fat? Here’s one way to do it: The Keto diet. Read on to find out if it’s right for you, but only under medical supervision!

HOW IT STARTED

The Keto diet has been used for centuries to treat people with drug resistant epilepsy.  Today, it’s gaining considerable attention as a weight loss strategy.

This eating plan is all about:

  1. Minimizing your carbs.
  2. Upping your fats to get your body to use the fat stores as your primary form of energy instead of glucose.

THE BENEFITS

  • Rapid weight loss (especially in obesity cases).
  • For patients with type 2 diabetes it controls blood sugar levels in the short term.
  • Lowers levels of triglycerides and raises levels of good HDL cholesterol.
  • Makes you feel satisfied for longer and curbs your cravings.
  • Since you are restricting carbs, your body does not retain water to store it and you lose water weight.
  • Starves some kinds of cancer cells.

WHAT IS KETOSIS?

In about two to seven days of following a Ketogenic eating routine, you go into a metabolic state called ketosis, where your body doesn’t have enough carbs to use for energy so it turns to the stored fat as a primary fuel turning your body into a fat-burning machine. Once you are fully adapted to the Keto diet, fat becomes your body’s fuel source and you are able to use dietary fat and body fat equally.

ATKINS vs. KETO

The Keto diet and Atkins both follow carbohydrate restriction, however there are some differences as follows:

  • In Atkins, you eventually reintroduce healthy carbs like quinoa and fruits, but in Keto carbs are always limited.
  • Atkins may be more sustainable in the long run because it’s not quite as restrictive and doesn’t require you to make sure your body remains in ketosis.
  • As for the carb approach, Atkins allows 20 grams of net carbs and as the diet progresses; the carb amount allowed goes up. On the other hand, Keto counts all carbs—not just the net—and the amount tends to be much lower long-term than that of Atkins.
  • There’s no cap on protein with Atkins, while Keto limits protein to about 20% of your daily calories.
  • In Atkins fats and proteins are fair game while in Keto fat is emphasized.

THE SIDE EFFECTS TO LOOK OUT FOR

  • Get ready for the “Keto flu”. This is a group of flu-like symptoms that you might experience as you get started on the diet for a short period of time till the body adapts to the drastic drop of carb intake. (Transition period ranges between two to six weeks)

TIP! A higher potassium intake may help make the transition to a Ketogenic diet easier.

  • Everyone’s body responds differently to ketosis. While some people are able to produce insulin during ketosis to slow down ketone production and avoid a toxic level, others can’t. Ketosis becomes dangerous when blood turns acidic. To counter this, the body takes calcium away from the bones, which might lead to osteoporosis in the long term.
  • You might experience bad breath characteristic of the organic compounds ketones produce during ketosis.
  • Due to its prolonged restrictions, it’s not a good long-term eating approach as it may lead to potentially dangerous nutritional deficiencies.
  • The Ketogenic diet is low in fiber so constipation is a common problem.
  • Missing on some fruits and grains means you are missing on lots of vitamins and minerals that need to be supplemented.
  • Frequent urination occurs as the kidneys are attempting to excrete the ketones from burning fat, leading to an inevitable loss of electrolytes
  • The Keto diet is a very strict diet, so if you don’t adhere to it fully, it won’t work.

IS IT RIGHT FOR YOU?

NOT for those with kidney problems! Since Ketosis could increase acidity in the body, it also increases uric acid, leading to the formation of kidney stones.

NOT for women who are pregnant or breast-feeding, people on certain diabetes medication and insulin, those with a low body mass index (BMI), children, hypoglycemic people, those individuals with gallstones or who have had their gallbladder removed.

It is best that you carry out the diet under medical supervision to get the big picture and with the guide of a nutritionist who will design a well-formulated Ketogenic diet to minimize nutrient deficiencies and monitor any metabolic changes while on the diet.

Allowed foods:

  • Avocado
  • Meat and poultry
  • Fish
  • Olives and olive oil
  • Eggs and butter
  • Coconut oil
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Unsweetened nut milks
  • Plain Greek yoghurt and cheese
  • Unsweetened tea and coffee
  • Non-starchy vegetables
  • Leafy greens
  • Dark chocolate min 70%
  • Berries

Steer clear of:

  • Starch: rice, pasta, bread, potatoes
  • Sugar (including fruits, except berries)
  • Vegetable oils
  • Grains: quinoa, beans
  • Processed foods
  • Starchy vegetables: corn
  • Honey

TIP! Improvise by making cauliflower rice and zucchini noodles.

In my experience, you can stick to the Keto diet for three to six months at the most, noting that you can opt to cycle in and out of the diet throughout the year. Moderation is generally the key to shedding pounds for good, optimizing health, and living a balanced life. Over the long term, a less strict, modified Keto diet can still help promote weight loss in a safe fast way.