Is the Keto Diet Right for You?

Are you interested in losing weight? Tired of low-fat or no-fat diets and craving your high-fat meats? You may be considering going keto, the new kid on the block. Endorsed by many celebrities, including Halle Berry, LeBron James, and Kim Kardashian, among others, the ketogenic diet has been the subject of much debate among dietitians and doctors. Wondering if the ketogenic diet is safe and right for you?

What is the ketogenic diet anyway?

You should be aware that the body uses sugar in the form of glycogen to function. The ketogenic diet that is extremely restricted in sugar forces your body to use fat for fuel instead of sugar since you don’t get enough sugar. When the body doesn’t get enough sugar for fuel, the liver is forced to convert available fat into ketones that the body uses for fuel, hence the term ketogenic.

This diet is a high-fat diet with moderate amounts of protein. Depending on carbohydrate intake, the body reaches a state of ketosis in less than a week and stays there. Since fat is used instead of sugar for fuel in the body, weight loss is dramatic without any supposed calorie restriction.

The ketogenic diet is such that you should aim to get 60-75% of your daily calories from fat, 15-30% from protein, and only 5-10% from carbohydrates. This generally means that you can only eat 20 to 50 grams of carbohydrates in a day.

What can you eat on this diet?

The diet is a high fat diet that is somewhat similar to Atkins. However, there is a greater emphasis on fats, generally ‘good’ fats. On the ketogenic diet you can have

  • Olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • walnut oils
  • Butter
  • ghee
  • grass fed beef
  • Chicken
  • Fish
  • other meats
  • whole cheese
  • Eggs
  • Cream
  • green leafy vegetables
  • non-starchy vegetables
  • Walnuts
  • Seeds

You can also get a wide range of snacks aimed at keto followers. As you can see from this list, fruits are restricted. You can eat low-sugar fruits in a limited amount (mainly berries), but you will have to give up your favorite fruits, as they are all sweet and/or starchy.

This diet includes no grains of any kind, no starchy vegetables like potatoes (and all root vegetables), no sugar or sweets, no breads and pastries, no beans and lentils, no pasta, no pizza and no hamburgers and very little alcohol. This also means no coffee with milk or tea with milk; in fact, no milk, ice cream and milk-based desserts.

Many of these have workarounds, as you can get carb-free pasta and pizza, you can eat cauliflower rice, and now there are even restaurants that cater to keto fans.

What are the benefits of the ketogenic diet?

If you are wondering if this diet is safe, its proponents and those who have achieved their weight loss goals will no doubt agree that it is safe. Among the benefits of the ketogenic diet you can expect:

  1. Weightloss
  2. Low or no sugar spikes
  3. appetite control
  4. Seizure control effect
  5. Blood pressure normalizes in patients with high blood pressure
  6. Reduction of migraine attacks
  7. Patients with type 2 diabetes who follow this diet can reduce their medications
  8. Some benefits for cancer sufferers

Apart from the first four, there is not enough evidence to support its effectiveness or otherwise for other diseases, as much more long-term research is required.

Are there side effects of this diet?

When you initially start the ketogenic diet, you may come down with what is known as the keto flu. These symptoms may not occur in everyone, and they usually begin a few days after starting the diet, when your body is in a state of ketosis. Some of the side effects are:

  • Nausea
  • Cramps and stomach pain
  • Headache
  • vomiting
  • Diarrhea and/or constipation
  • Muscle cramps
  • Dizziness and poor concentration
  • Insomnia
  • Carbohydrate and sugar cravings

These may take up to a week to wear off as your body adjusts to the new diet regimen. You can also experience other problems when you start the ketogenic diet: you may have more urine, so it is important to stay well hydrated. You can also suffer from keto respiration when your body reaches optimal ketosis and you can use mouthwash or brush your teeth more often.

Side effects are usually temporary and once your body acclimates to the new diet, they should go away.

How safe is the ketogenic diet?

Just like any other diet that restricts foods into specific categories, the ketogenic diet is not without its risks. Since you are not supposed to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, beans and lentils and other foods, you may suffer from a lack of many essential nutrients. Since the diet is high in saturated fat, and if you indulge in the ‘bad’ fats, you may have high cholesterol levels that increase your risk of heart disease.

In the long term, the ketogenic diet can also cause many nutritional deficiencies, since you can’t eat grains, lots of fruits, and vegetables, and lose fiber, as well as important vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and antioxidants, among other things. You may experience gastrointestinal problems, decreased bone density (without dairy or other sources of calcium), and kidney and liver problems (diet puts extra pressure on both organs).

Is the ketogenic diet safe for you?

If you’re willing to give up your usual staples and are really interested in losing weight, you may be tempted to try the ketogenic diet. The biggest problem with this diet is low patient compliance thanks to carbohydrate restriction, so you want to make sure you can live with your food choices. If you simply find it too difficult to follow, you can opt for a version of the modified ketogenic diet that offers more carbohydrates.

However, the keto diet is definitely effective in helping you lose weight. According to a recent study, many of the obese patients followed managed to lose weight. Any problems they faced were temporary. If you don’t have any significant health issues other than obesity and haven’t been able to lose weight on a conventional diet, the ketogenic diet may be a viable option. You must be absolutely determined to lose weight and be prepared to follow a restricted diet as specified. Even if you have any medical problems, you can follow the advice of your doctor and the guidance of a nutritionist and follow this diet.

Another study that was carried out for a longer time showed that following the ketogenic diet is beneficial for weight loss and also lowers cholesterol levels with a decrease in bad cholesterol and an increase in good cholesterol.

Is the ketogenic diet safe for you? Most doctors and nutritionists agree that the ketogenic diet is good for short-term weight loss. As for the long term, more studies are needed. Keep in mind that obesity is not an appropriate option, as it carries its own risk of health problems.

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