You may have heard of the term keto diet or ketogenic diet but do you really know what it means? Why do people follow this kind of diet and what are its benefits? In this article we will explain all about the keto diet.
By definition, a ketogenic diet is a kind of eating regimen that promotes ketosis. What is this ketosis? It is the process of using ketones for energy. These ketones are generated from the incomplete metabolism of fats in the liver. Ketosis is a process initiated by the body when experiencing starvation. In this state, fats are broken down into ketones which then supply the body with the energy it needs even in the absence of carbohydrates which are primary sources of energy. The main aim of a keto diet is to force the body into a similar state. This does not mean you have to starve yourself though! Read on to find out more.
A ketogenic diet is also known as a low carb high fat diet. From this name you can tell that this kind of diet advocates for low intake of carbs and a high intake of fats. In a normal diet, the carbs are the main sources of energy. They are metabolized to glucose and this is in turn used as an energy source. In the state of ketosis when carb intake is low, the body is forced to rely on a different source of energy and since fats are the second in line, they start being used up to produce energy.
Anyone can benefit from a keto diet. You should, however, be very determined and ready to make a change to your lifestyle. Your eating habits will in particular have to change drastically. It is always good to talk to a doctor to see if you are fit and your body can handle the process. You will in particular need a fit liver and only a doctor can determine its state.
You will also need to make changes to your pantry and add some new staples that are acceptable in the keto diet. Look through the foods that are recommended by this diet and stock on them.
What to eat and what not to?
You need to start eating ketogenic foods to join this diet. These are foods that contain 60-80% fat, 15-35% protein and 0-5% carbohydrates. The actual amounts of these nutrients that you should take will differ from one person to the other and will depend on something called macros (more on that below).
The carbohydrate intake should be as low as possible while the proteins should be moderate. The fats should be taken in high levels. This is unlike other diets that will restrict fat intake but in keto, fat is good. Avoid snacking and plan your meals in advance.
You will need to drink lots of water while on the keto diet. This will help you stay hydrated and control hunger pangs. At least a gallon of water is advised. Fasting may also help hasten the speed at which your body will attain ketosis state. Be ready for the keto flu which takes 5 to 7 days as the body gets accustomed to the new state. It will be rough but you will feel better within a week or so.
What are keto macros?
In this case, the word macros is used as an abbreviation of macronutrients. These refer to the daily intake of fats, proteins and carbs that is needed to provide the body with energy. To determine this you can use one of the many online macros calculators. For this you will be required to
provide personal information like gender, age, weight, body fat percentage, activity levels, goals and other details.
If you do not like the idea of using a calculator you can calculate your macros on your own. Carbs to be taken can be as little as none but it is best to start with little intake. 20g carbs per day is a good start. Determining the proteins is however not that easy. First you will need to calculate the body fat which is generally 30% of the body weight. The remaining 70% is estimated to be your body’s lean muscle. To find the daily protein intake, multiply the lean muscle mass by the grams of protein per pound of lean body mass number. As for the fats daily intake, it will depend on your weight goals and your activity level. These factors determine the required daily calorific intake. After combining the calories the proteins and carbs you will eat will give, the rest should come from fats. (fats provide 5calories per gram, proteins provide 4 calories per gram and carbs provide 4 calories per gram)
Some benefits of the ketogenic diet
The keto diet has many benefits including weight loss as the body fats will start being broken down. This combined with frequent exercising will help lose weight and maintain a healthier lifestyle. It also reduces blood sugar which can be very important at controlling diabetes.
Unlike glucose, ketones do not produce energy spikes to the mind. They provide consistent energy supply which increases mental focus. They also provide energy to all parts of the body which leaves a person feeling happy and energized.
With keto diet, cholesterol levels in the body are also improved which reduces the risk of heart attacks and other related diseases.