It’s ‘new’ and lots of people are raving about it, but is it for you? Will it really help you get back that body you once had?
Let’s face it, these past few years, people have been introduced to many and various ways to help achieve their health and fitness goals: taking pills, following a workout routine, or tackling the latest diet plan. Among the three, adopting that diet plan is the most often preferred. After all, it requires the least effort (but the same determination).
Paleo, Zone, Sugar Busters, and South Beach are just some of the more popular diets that have caught the public’s attention. Television, magazines and the internet are splattered with ‘Everyday Joes’ and big-name celebrities sharing testimonials about how effective these diets are.
Recently, a new contender has entered the health and fitness arena: The Ketogenic Diet. Will it live up to the hype?
What is the Ketogenic Diet?
It’s not new. In fact, it’s been around since the 1920s, primarily for the treatment of epilepsy — an option for children with hard to control epilepsy.
So, does that mean the Keto diet is only for those who have epilepsy? Its foundations are certainly rooted in epilepsy treatment, but its remarkable effectiveness has opened gateways for health enthusiasts. Just like every other diet, adherents are prepared to swear that it works wonders. However, just like any other diet, you have to know if your body is fit to proceed with the Keto diet. If you decide it may be for you, consult a dietitian or a nutritionist before committing.
How to Proceed with the Keto Diet
The first thing you need to do is to cut your carb intake. Yep, no bread, sugar, potatoes or rice. In fact, a diet almost totally free of carbs is preferred. At the very least, you need to cut right down on rice, bread, beans, and even some fruits. Unfortunately, mangoes and bananas have a high carb content so you may have to skip them too.
Next, take in some proteins but limit yourself to munching on few full-fat dairy products like butter, sour cream, and yogurt. That’s good news for yogurt lovers.
With the Keto diet, what you need is mostly fat — the right kind of healthy fat.
Not all fats are created equal. Yes, some people think that they can eat whatever fat they want. However, your daily fat intake should consist of saturated and monounsaturated fats so as to avoid increasing your chances of heart disease. You need to avoid processed vegetable oils like: soybean, canola, corn, grapeseed and sunflower oils. It is also important to consume other high-fat foods such as eggs, red meat, chicken, poultry, fatty fish and avocados.
How Does the Diet Work?
An average person’s body usually breaks down the carbs they’ve consumed and converts them into glucose. Glucose is the primary source of energy when carbohydrates are present in the body. That bread, pasta, rice and those potatoes are just glucose waiting to happen! Oh – and so is that beer, wine or whiskey you were thinking of having.
With the Keto diet, because your system can’t find those easy carbs to convert to energy, it turns to the next best thing… fat. Your fat. By forcing your body to burn fats instead of carbs, you can achieve substantial weight loss.
With the Keto Diet you need to keep a very low carb intake or take carbs out of your system completely. Replace them with fats. When your body realizes that there aren’t enough carbs to burn, survival mechanisms kick in and your body will look for another form of energy to keep your body moving.
That’s where fats come in. If there are no carbs present in your system, your liver will look for fatty acids and convert them into ketone bodies, also known as ketones, as another source of body fuel — this process is known as ketosis.
In 2015, researchers from UCL and Royal Holloway University of London discovered that another chemical, decanoic acid, is also produced during the process. Decanoic acid helps reduce seizures which is the reason why the Keto diet is used to help treat epilepsy.
Cheat Days Are Over
But be warned, unlike any other diets, having a cheat day while following the Keto diet is a big no. Cheating your diet will easily reverse your progress simply because carb conversion is so much easier for your metabolism.
Taking a few carbs is okay but the ‘few’ varies per person. That’s why it’s essential that you see a dietitian before committing to the Keto diet.
Is the Keto Diet Effective?
It’s important to know if you’re getting good results to make sure that you reap what you sow. To know if your body is producing ketones while you’re on a diet, you need to have your ketone levels checked. You can choose whichever method you prefer: blood tests or a urine analysis. The blood tests are the most accurate but if you don’t like the idea, you can just pee in a container. Urine test strips are also inexpensive.
Other Benefits of the Keto Diet
Aside from the potential weight loss and, according to adherents, increased energy levels, there are some other serious benefits cliamed for the Keto diet. Some of the benefits you may get are: Blood Sugar Control, Mental Focus, and Cholesterol & Blood Pressure control.
The Ketogenic diet draws flak from some people because of the challenges they encounter compared to the conventional “high carbs, low-fat” diet. Carbs are everywhere so a high carb diet requires little effort. But it’s all about results and the Keto Diet is definitely rooted in hard science.
At the end of the day, only you can prove if the diet is effective. What’s more important is how committed you are to the diet and your dedication to achieving your goals.
Have you tried the Keto diet? Is it working for you? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.