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The Ketogenic Diet

Many people may be interested in losing weight, but this diet is a must for some to follow to ensure a healthy lifestyle -- diabetic patients. A ketogenic (keto) diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet that offers many health benefits. It is very similar to the Atkins and low-carb diets. However, the keto diet is more strict in drastically decreasing reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat, putting your body into a metabolic state called ketosis.

Ketosis is a state where the body turns to burn fat cells for energy, which involves producing ketone bodies out of fat and using them for energy instead of carbs. By reducing carbohydrates, you limit your body’s supply of glucose (sugar), which is the main energy source for the cells. To enter ketosis, you will need to limit carb consumption to around 20 to 50 grams per day and filling up on fats, such as meat, fish, eggs, nuts, and healthy oils. In addition, you should consume protein in moderation in the diet because protein can be converted into glucose if consumed in high amounts, which may slow your transition into ketosis. Another way to get into ketosis is by intermittent fasting, and the most popular method is the 16:8 method, where you eat food in an 8-hour time frame and fast for the other 16 hours. For a day, that would mean eating breakfast around 10:00 am and finish dinner before 6:00 pm.

The keto diet can also help with weight loss. In fact, many studies have indicated that the ketogenic diet may be as effective for weight loss as a low-fat diet in the long run. Also, it can lead to reductions in diastolic blood pressure and triglyceride levels. In the keto diet, you are limiting the sugar (carbohydrate) intake, and consuming normal sugar increases insulin resistance. High insulin resistance will stop your body from responding to the hormone insulin, causing higher insulin and blood sugar levels, potentially leading to type 2 diabetes. This method can help with weight loss in the short term; you can lose weight quickly because it reduces the body’s glycogen and water stores. Additionally, eating lots of healthy fats in this diet will promote feelings of satiety, helping you to suppress your appetite in the long term, leading to a lower calorie intake.

To counteract the sugar cravings during the keto diet, many will use sugar substitutes and almond flour in baking.

The keto diet may also be beneficial for a wide variety of health benefits (following information obtained from Healthline):

  • Heart disease. The ketogenic diet can help improve risk factors like body fat, HDL (good) cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and blood sugar.

  • Cancer. The diet is currently being explored as an additional treatment for cancer because it may help slow tumour growth.

  • Alzheimer’s disease. The keto diet may help reduce symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and slow its progression.

  • Epilepsy. Research has shown that the ketogenic diet can cause significant reductions in seizures in epileptic children.

  • Parkinson’s disease. Although more research is needed, one study found that the diet helped improve symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome. The ketogenic diet can help reduce insulin levels, playing a key role in polycystic ovary syndrome.

  • Brain injuries. Some research suggests that the diet could improve outcomes of traumatic brain injuries.

There are several versions of the ketogenic diet, including:

  • Standard ketogenic diet (SKD): This is a very low carb, moderate protein and high-fat diet. It typically contains 70% fat, 20% protein, and only 10% carbs (9Trusted Source).

  • Cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD) involves periods of higher-carb refeeds, such as 5 ketogenic days followed by 2 high carb days.

  • Targeted ketogenic diet (TKD): This diet allows you to add carbs around workouts.

  • High protein ketogenic diet: This is similar to a standard ketogenic diet but includes more protein. The ratio is often 60% fat, 35% protein, and 5% carbs.

Foods to avoid

Any food that’s high in carbs should be limited.

Here’s a list of foods that need to be reduced or eliminated on a ketogenic diet:

  • sugary foods: soda, fruit juice, smoothies, cake, ice cream, candy, etc.

  • grains or starches: wheat-based products, rice, pasta, cereal, etc.

  • fruit: all fruit, except small portions of berries like strawberries

  • beans or legumes: peas, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, etc.

  • root vegetables and tubers: potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, etc.

  • low fat or diet products: low-fat mayonnaise, salad dressings, and condiments

  • some condiments or sauces: barbecue sauce, honey mustard, teriyaki sauce, ketchup, etc.

  • unhealthy fats: processed vegetable oils, mayonnaise, etc.

  • alcohol: beer, wine, liquor, mixed drinks

  • sugar-free diet foods: sugar-free candies, syrups, puddings, sweeteners, desserts, etc.

Foods to eat

You should base the majority of your meals around these foods:

  • meat: red meat, steak, ham, sausage, bacon, chicken, and turkey

  • fatty fish: salmon, trout, tuna, and mackerel

  • eggs: pastured or omega-3 whole eggs

  • butter and cream: grass-fed butter and heavy cream

  • cheese: unprocessed cheeses like cheddar, goat, cream, blue, or mozzarella

  • nuts and seeds: almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, etc.

  • healthy oils: extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, and avocado oil

  • avocados: whole avocados or freshly made guacamole

  • low carb veggies: green veggies, tomatoes, onions, peppers, etc.

  • condiments: salt, pepper, herbs, and spices

Healthy keto snacks

In case you get hungry between meals, here are some healthy, keto-approved snacks:

  • fatty meat or fish

  • cheese

  • a handful of nuts or seeds

  • keto sushi bites

  • olives

  • one or two hard-boiled or deviled eggs

  • keto-friendly snack bars

  • 90% dark chocolate

  • full-fat Greek yogurt mixed with nut butter and cocoa powder

  • bell peppers and guacamole

  • strawberries and plain cottage cheese

  • celery with salsa and guacamole

  • beef jerky

  • smaller portions of leftover meals

  • fat bombs

When many people start a keto diet, they may experience a keto 'flue,' including diarrhea, constipation, and vomiting. Other less common symptoms include:

  • poor energy and mental function

  • increased hunger

  • sleep issues

  • nausea

  • digestive discomfort

  • decreased exercise performance

Though, you can mitigate these symptoms by trying a low-carb diet before to adjust better.

Staying on the keto diet in the long term may have some negative effects, such as

  • low protein in the blood

  • extra fat in the liver

  • kidney stones

  • micronutrient deficiencies

Overall, the keto diet is most suitable for people who have diabetes or want to improve their metabolic health. However, it is crucial to talk to a doctor before following any diet, as certain restrictions must be followed precisely y for the diet to work. Additionally, if you do not have any health concerns, it is better to include more whole foods into your diet instead of following these strict diets targeted towards specific patients.

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