‘How much weight did you lose last week?’, ‘I skipped my bulletproof coffee this morning!’ and ‘I think I might have the keto fever’ – these have become part of common workplace chatter nowadays; have you noticed?
After an entire generation fell into the fast food trap making obesity an epidemic, it naturally expected a faster solution. That probably led to diet trends like Atkins, Dukan, and now ketogenic or keto diet. It is a dramatic answer to a dramatically escalated problem.
How it originated and how it works
Let’s get the basics right. The keto diet wasn’t really designed to address weight issues. It is, in fact, a medically recommended treatment component for those suffering from epileptic seizures. Which is why health experts suggest that this diet is not to be tried as an experiment. It requires expert guidance and advice.
The diet pushes the body to use energy fuel other than the usual. Instead of calories that come from carbohydrates (like, grains, starchy vegetables, fruits), the body relies on ketone bodies – the fuel that the liver produces from its fat storage; however, it is not as quick and easy as it reads. The process requires you to deprive your body of carbohydrates (limiting to just between 20-50 grams); simply put, the diet aims at getting only 5-10% of calories from carbohydrates, 15-30% of calories from proteins, and a whopping 60-75% from fats.
Dieters often say that the keto diet is so filling that you can lose weight without the hassle of counting calories. Apart from that, studies have shown that increased ketones lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity, which can play a key role in weight loss.
Yes, there are ‘types’ of keto diet
The diet that’s caught on like wildfire since last year, engulfing almost everyone looking to shed pounds, has four types.
- Standard: Very low-carb, moderate-protein and high-fat diet i.e. 75% fat, 20% protein, and only 5% carbs.
- Cyclical: Involves periods of high-carb meals, such as 5 ketogenic days followed by 2 high-carb days.
- Targeted: Here, you can add carbs around your workouts.
- High-protein: Similar to a standard keto, but includes more protein, giving the ratio - 60% fat, 35% protein and 5% carbs.
However, it should be noted that only the standard and high-protein kinds have been studied. Cyclical and targeted are quite advanced and mainly used by athletes, and require expert guidance.
What can you eat
You can include these foods in your diet: Everyday meats like steak, ham, sausage, bacon, chicken and turkey; fatty fish like salmon, trout, tuna and mackerel; eggs; butter and cream; unprocessed cheese; nuts and seeds; healthy oils like, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil and avocado oil; avocados; low-carb vegetables like tomatoes, onions, peppers, etc.; and spices and condiments.
What to avoid
Sodas, fruit juices, smoothies, cakes, ice creams, candy, etc.; grains and grain products; all fruit, except small portions of berries; beans or legumes; root vegetables and tubers; low-fat or diet products; processed vegetable oils, mayonnaise, etc.; alcohol; and sugar-free diet foods as they often contain sugar alcohols, which can affect ketone levels.
Word of caution
It is needless to say that such a drastic nutritional change will come with its own after effects. And although it is quite safe, keto fever or keto flu is a common initial side effect, which eases down in a few days. The symptoms include poor concentration, low energy, excessive hunger, and digestive discomfort. To ease this, always try to not jump into a strict diet and follow a low carb diet for a few days. Also, it is vital that you eat until you are full.
Any symptoms apart from these or anything that raises an alarm should of course not be ignored and a medical professional should be consulted.
The ketogenic diet can work great for those who have been advised weight loss (rather than those looking to shed just a couple of pounds). However, nothing can replace your regular dose of healthy diet and adequate physical activity.
**Consulting a nutritionist is a wise decision before following this or any other diet routine.