The ketogenic diet, also known as the keto diet, is the most trending diet these days, every second person wants to do it. It was originally created for patients with epilepsy, as ketones produced during ketosis helps control brain activity ultimately helping to control seizures. The diet works on the principle of high fat, moderate protein and low carbohydrate intake. The mechanism behind the ketogenic diet is that when there is restricted supply of carbohydrate and an abundant supply of fats, the body tends to shift its primary source of energy from glucose that is carbohydrates to ketones that is the metabolite of fat. So basically the body starts using fat to derive energy instead of carbohydrates.
A lesser known fact is that there is not one but four types of keto diet:
Standard Ketogenic diet (SKD): The Standard ketogenic diet is the most commonly used and recommended keto diet among all other types with 75% fat, 20% protein and 5% carbohydrates.
Cyclical Ketogenic diet (CKD): Cyclical keto diet involves episodes of carbohydrates refeeds after every five days
Targeted Ketogenic diet (TKD): Targeted keto diet is characterised by incorporating carbohydrates around workouts.
High-protein Ketogenic diet: In the high-protein keto diet, the amount of protein intake is slightly increased by about 35%.
Following are a few benefits of keto diet:
- Can aid weight loss: Since carbohydrates are restricted and the body is utilizing fat, this diet might help in weight loss.
- Controls acne: Keto diet is devoid of sugar, dairy and wheat, the three major triggers of acne and when you eliminate all three from the diet it can help clear up acne.
- Reduces the risk of cancer: Lesser refined carbohydrates means lesser free radicals, thus reduced chances of cancer.
- Protects brain function: It is known to reduce the risk of Parkinsons and Alzheimers.
- Hormonal healing: Hormones are made up of fat and excess insulin tends to disrupt the hormonal balance, now when you feed the body with good fat it helps restore the hormonal balance and reduced carbohydrate intake helps in regulating insulin levels. Thus it can be beneficial for people suffering from PCOS or polycystic ovarian disease.
Following are a few drawbacks of the keto diet:
- Not sustainable: It is very difficult and unnatural to avoid carbohydrates for such a long time.
- Hairfall: Due to the deficiency of B vitamins that are found in cereals can often lead to hair fall.
- Costly and limited availability: The foods consumed in keto diet such as almond milk, coconut milk, organic meats are on the expensive side and difficult to arrange in the local market.
- Difficult for vegetarians to follow: Since keto requires absolute carbohydrate restriction, it is difficult to find vegetarian sources that have high-quality proteins and very low amount of carbohydrates.
If you plan to follow the ketogenic diet, the following are a few things to keep in mind:
- Very restricted amount of carbohydrates: The carbohydrate intake has to be less than 5% meaning no grains, no sugars and only very low carbohydrate fruits such as berries, avocado, watermelon, peaches etc.
- Source of fat: Keto does not mean hogging on anything that looks to be loaded with fat, the source of fat really makes the difference, one should consume organic grass fed butter, ghee, pure coconut oil, avocados, nuts, nut butter and not fried food.
- Source of protein: Again the source of protein should ideally be grass-fed organic non-vegetarian as more than the quantity of the protein the quality of protein matters. The reason grass fed it stressed so much because it helps improve the omega content of the food.
- Calculate your macros: It is one diet where it is essential to calculate the macronutrients; carbohydrates, proteins and fats as they need to precisely 5%, 15% and 80% respectively in terms of diet composition.
- Track the ketones: It is important to track the ketone levels to know when has the ketosis process started, it can be tracked by urine and blood test.
- Consistency: Your body does not go immediately into the ketosis mode so one should not expect an immediate result.
- Keto flu: You may tend to have severe headache, dizziness, fatigue and light fever up to 2 weeks when you start with the keto diet.
- Side effects: Some common side effects are headache, constipation, bad or keto breath, fatigue, increased dehydration and brain fog.
- Exercise and supplements: For maximum results, one should to regular moderate exercise. It is extremely important to stay hydrated and one should take multivitamin supplements as the amount to grains and fruits allowed in this diet is very restricted.
So don’t follow this trend blindly, learn the facts and then decide it’s suitability.