One of the lesser-known diets that seem to be attracting more and more athletes these days is the ketogenic diet or the keto diet, a diet based on high fat, low-carbs and balanced protein intake.
People who seek to lose weight are said to benefit from the keto diet because it helps with burning fat more effectively since it is a diet very low in carbohydrates.
But is the ketogenic diet safe to follow and does it provide results?
Keto diet facts:
- The keto diet ‘forces’ the body into using fuel from stored fat as opposed to using sugar sourced from carbohydrates.
- This alternative source of fuel is called ‘ketones’ that the liver produces when you eat very few carbs, moderate protein amounts and a lot of fat.
- When you eat a lot of fat and very few carbs, the body enters a metabolic state called ketosis, which is when it starts burning the fat for fuel.
- Ketones serve as fuel source not only for the body, but also for the brain, an organ that consumes a high amount of energy.
- The keto diet has similar benefits to fasting and can be eaten indefinitely.
Who benefits from the keto diet?
Although the surge in popularity is only since a couple of years, the keto diet has actually been around since the 1920s when it was developed as a medical diet to help people with epilepsy.
Today, the diet is recommended to patients and specifically children who struggle with epilepsy as it has been proven to lower the number of epileptic seizures.
Studies also show that the diet can help people with their cholesterol levels and blood pressure. Following a keto diet, you can improve triglyceride levels and raise the amount of good cholesterol in the body.
Since ketones are a source of fuel for the brain, the diet can also help with increasing mental performance, focus and concentration. Numerous amounts of research indicate that the ketogenic diet can provide help to patients confronting Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s, chronic inflammation, fatty liver disease, cancer and migraines.
The fiction behind the ketogenic diet
A lot of what makes the keto diet so popular has to do with obesity and the fact that following such a diet increases the chances for weight-loss, however according to some research, the diet only provides short-term results.
The truth behind the ketogenic diet is that if you want to make it work, you need to plan meals and keep an eye on keto macros, which are represented by the fat, protein and carbs intake.
About 70% of the calories you consume every day on a keto diet should come from fat, 25% should be protein and 5% carbohydrates.
Remember to drink enough water and get enough sleep, especially when you’re just starting out and your body is adjusting. It’s important that you cut out all sugar from day one and get most of your carbohydrates from vegetables.
Also very important is that you eat foods that you enjoy and you cook recipes that don’t make you feel like you’re missing out on food.
If you’re unsure about starting a ketogenic diet, consult with your doctor or a nutritionist for guidance.