Obesity is reaching epidemic proportions and is a strong risk factor for a number of cardiovascular and metabolic disorders such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemia, atherosclerosis, and also certain types of cancers.
Various strategies have been followed by people around the world to combat the issue by restricting diet,amongst which the recent and studied strategies is the ketogenic diet.
What is a Ketogenic diet?
A ketogenic diet is consumption of high fat,moderate protein and restriction of carbohydrates which leads body to go into a state of KETOSIS.
When your body is in a state of ketosis, the liver produces ketones which become the main energy source for the body.
The ketogenic diet is also referred to as keto diet, low carb diet, and low carb high fat (LCHF).
How it works?
With the average person’s diet, glucose is the main energy source.
Body uses glucose as the source of instant energy but extra glucose gets converted into fat which is then stored.
And this stored fat does not get used as body uses new glucose for energy.
That is why when you feel you have run out of energy,you want to grab a candy or a cookie to fill that up.
This cycle prevents the stored fat to be used for energy and does not help in losing already acquired weight.
Let’s see what happens with keto diet
When you lower your intake of carbohydrate, the body begins to look for an alternative energy source and your body enters a metabolic state known as ketosis.
Ketosis is a natural process where Ketones are produced from the breakdown of fat in the liver,as a result there is loss of weight.
Advantages of ketogenic diet
- Ketogenic diet helps in weight loss as more energy is lost in turning fat into energy unlike the usual process of turning carbohydrates into energy.
- Due to increase in protein intake, it keeps you fuller for longer than a quick bite of simple sugars like cookies or candies and aids in weight control.
- When ketogenic diet includes healthy fats it also leads to increased HDL(good fat) and hence improves heart health by decreasing cholesterol.
- Ketogenic diet has been found to be effective in children with seizures and help in childhood epilepsy.
- A high-carbohydrate diet can negatively affect those with PCOS. Ketogenic diet in PCOS women have been found to reduce weight.
- It is also found to reduce incidences of acne.
It is important to note that staying on the ketogenic diet for long term can have adverse effects on your health. These include increased risk of:
- Kidney stone formation
- Acidosis (high levels of acid in the blood)
- Severe weight loss or muscle degeneration (for long-term use)
In some cases, immediate side effects of the diet may include: constipation, sluggishness, low blood sugar.
These symptoms are especially common at the beginning of the diet as your body is adjusting to the new diet.
- Research has shown that a lot of people tend to regain the weight they’ve lost on a keto diet, because it is very difficult to maintain low carbohydrate diets in the long term.
- Also low carbohydrate diets tend to deplete carbohydrate reserves in the muscles and liver.
Precautions while following ketogenic diet
The first period of ketogenic lifestyle, ranging from a few days to a few weeks, is accompanied by a considerable drop in energy. This is a normal occurrence – it’s simply a way that your body adjust to the new diet style.
Follow these precautions while following a ketogenic diet-
It is important to note, that it is very difficult to follow this diet in the long term as the keto diet severely limits your food choices such as whole grains and foods, which can lead to a very limited meal plan. A lot of people may find difficulties in sticking with such a restricted diet.
1.Consume different kinds of fats . Try to spice up your intake with a variety of animal fats (olive oil, fatty fish, nuts, seeds) as well.
2.Add more fiber to your diet. Because of the daily restriction for the amount of carbohydrates, you may experience micronutrient deficiencies caused by an insufficient intake of iron, potassium, magnesium and thiamine. The best way to avoid digestive problems is to eat proper amounts of fiber.
3.The ketogenic diet encourages the elimination of refined and processed carbohydrates. However, not all carbohydrates are created equal. Many health benefits come from a diet that includes a variety of nutrient-dense, fibrous carbs, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
4.Check your protein intake. The keto diet is associated with low-to-moderate amounts of protein, so eating too much protein could disrupt your state of ketosis by making your body convert all the excess protein into carbohydrates.
5.Most importantly, you should always consult your doctor before starting any long-term dietary changes. There are plenty of medical conditions in which such diets are not recommended including problems with your liver, metabolism, digestive system, pancreatitis or fat malabsorption.
6.Additionally, individuals with elevated blood glucose levels may be unable to achieve ketosis.
Any drastic change in your diet can have potential consequences to your health. Because of this, you should always talk to your doctor or a nutritionist before starting a new diet.
If you’re interested in starting the ketogenic diet, you should be extra careful to check with your doctor if you have diabetes, hypoglycemia, or heart disease.
Because your body should not stay in ketosis for too long,it is advised to discuss other options of dietary changes for an extended period of time.So it is important to weigh the pros and cons and make an informed choice whether Ketogenic diet is for you or not.
-Dr Prerna Gaur