This is the first of many posts that will explore what the keto diet is and what its many health benefits are. We’ll explore many different kinds of food plans or diets. Most importantly, we will provide you with their health benefits in addition to weight loss.
They can, therefore, be used for either or both. Furthermore, once you’ve reached your goal weight, simple changes enable them to become life-long eating plans.
We’ll begin by discussing aspects of the popular keto diet concept and its health benefits. Additionally, later posts will examine other food plans and more detail about the keto strategy.
THE KETOGENIC DIET IN GENERAL
Pretty much every health and fitness enthusiast and yo-yo dieter has heard about the ketogenic diet. It was originally developed under medical supervision for children with epilepsy and other neurological disorders. However, it has since taken the rest of the world by storm without much confusion and controversy.
So, what is the keto diet and its many health benefits?
To begin, the human body has a hierarchy for preferred sources of energy, with carbohydrates at the top. Fats come next, and then finally proteins. However, one’s current health and reason for employing a ketogenic diet usually dictate how much of each macronutrient is consumed.
The first and most important concept is consuming a limited number of carbs daily. The amount will usually be 25g or fewer to force the body into a state called “ketosis”.
WHAT IS KETOSIS?
Before we go any further, let’s dig more deeply into ketosis and its benefits. Carbohydrates are the body’s fuel of choice, Limiting them, however, forces the body to use fat as the next available energy source.
Our cells also release fatty acids, transferring them to the liver. Then the liver turns the fatty acids into ketones. Ketones are spectacular molecules that cross the blood-brain barrier. They thereby provide a power source to the brain in the absence of glucose.
A carb-loaded diet, on the other hand, is a disaster waiting to happen. Carbohydrates turn into blood sugar (glucose). When it’s at normal levels, glucose is a fantastic fuel on a cellular level. However, too much glucose causes the production of insulin to regulate blood sugar levels.
Consequently, too much insulin production over time can lead to insulin resistance, diabetes. and metabolic syndrome.
In summary, most importantly:
1) Ketosis forces the body to burn fat for fuel which causes weight loss.
2) Ketosis aids in glucose regulation.
These are key components of how each of the ketogenic diets functions. These components also explain why someone would choose one over another.
KETOGENIC DIET TYPES
The word “diet” means different things to different people. It can mean the kinds of foods a person habitually eats. Additionally, it can mean a special course of foods/food restrictions either for weight loss or medical purposes.
However, in the keto-world, diet means both.
The ketogenic diet can be either a permanent way of eating or a temporary weight loss program. But each person’s needs and goals for using this diet should be considered through the entire process.
STANDARD KETOGENIC DIET (SKD)
The ratio for the SKD version is typically 5% carbs, 75% fat and 20% protein. The numbers for fat and protein may shift a little. However, for the most part, fat is a huge part of the diet and caloric intake.
This extremely popular version utilizes this easy concept: simply stay at or below carb limit to remain in ketosis.
HIGH PROTEIN KETOGENIC DIET
In this diet, ketosis is achieved in the same way as in the standard ketogenic diet. However, in this model, there is a bit more protein. A normal macronutrient ratio might look like 55-60% fat, 35-40% protein and still 5% carbs. As with the SKD, one must remain at or below the carb limit for ketosis to work its magic.
TARGETED KETOGENIC DIET (TKD)
Ever heard of carb-loading before a workout? This is the main idea with the targeted ketogenic diet.
So, about 30-60 minutes before exercise, eat anywhere from 25-50g of easily digestible carbs. The actual number will depend on the individual’s needs and the type of workout to be performed.
The better type of carbs for this keto version is glucose-based food. The body uses glucose-based food more efficiently than fructose-based food. To clarify, glucose-based food is usually burned completely without throwing the body out of ketosis.
Finally, post-workout meals should include plenty of protein and less fat. In the normal keto situation, fat is encouraged. However, for muscle recovery and nutrient absorption, protein is a better choice for the targeted ketogenic diet.
CYCLICAL KETOGENIC DIET (CKD)
This one sounds strange considering what we’ve been learning. CKD is for bodybuilders and athletes who wish to build lean muscle mass and still maximize fat loss.
In this regimen, you follow a standard keto diet for five days. Then you cycle into the two-day phase of carb-loading.
The carb limit on the first carb-loading day will be 50g. On the second carb-loading day, the carb count will be anywhere from 400-600g. The premise is to load up on carbs so the body is properly fueled for the next five days of grueling workouts.
Importantly, CKD carb loading should not be used as a “cheat day” for those using the standard ketogenic diet. This approach is suitable only for extremely active individuals.
RESTRICTED KETOGENIC DIET
In this last version, both carbs and calories are limited. Medical professionals usually supervise this version. This version may be useful in cancer treatment. Based on studies, cancer cells can’t use ketones for energy and quite literally can starve to death.
As with any diet regimen or lifestyle change, you should seek the advice of an appropriate medical professional before beginning. Such professionals will consider the person’s medical history and current state of health, as well as individual needs and goals.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF THE KETO DIET
People most typically associate the ketogenic diet with rapid weight loss. However, that’s not where it got its start. And it’s certainly not the end of the road as far as health benefits are concerned.
There’s no denying that weight loss alone aids in the betterment of overall health. And with weight loss comes a multitude of other cardiovascular and digestive improvements.
However, the list doesn’t even come close to stopping there. Let’s look at some other situations in which this incredible way of eating has a positive effect.
Originally medical professionals developed the ketogenic diet to treat epilepsy in children resistant to multiple medications. In a 1920s study, Dr. Russell Wilder saw a 90% decrease in seizures in approximately 30% of subjects.
As one would expect, there was a significant drop in the number of patients remaining in the study. However, the results were consistent with the remaining subjects at the 3-month, 6-month and one-year intervals.
More recent data has found a 50% reduction in seizures in an evaluation of almost 20 studies with 1084 patients. Both with and without the use of anticonvulsant medications, the ketogenic diet has been effective in seizure reduction.
Because of the incredible results in epilepsy patients, more research has been underway. Encouragingly, it is showing promising results in the treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease. The studies indicate increased cognition and enhanced memory.
Similarly, perfectly healthy individuals notice greater mental clarity, increased ability to focus, as well as better migraine control. The “why” is not completely clear at this point. However, some researchers believe blood sugar stabilizations may be a significant factor.
HEART DISEASE PREVENTION
It’s likely that most of us realize that weight loss helps lower blood pressure. Additionally, cholesterol levels also improve from this way of eating. The ketogenic diet promotes a high-fat (healthy fat) regimen with limited carbohydrates. This lowers triglycerides and increases HDLs (good cholesterol).
This seems crazy at first because everybody tells us “fat” is bad. And doctors have been educating patients for years to eat a low-fat, heart-healthy diet. However, contrary to that theory, carbohydrates, not fat, are actually a significant driving force behind increased triglycerides.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Polycystic ovary syndrome comes with varied symptoms. These include acne, mood swings, infertility, fatigue, skin tags, and hair growth on the chest, face, back, and toes. It also causes painful and irregular menstrual cycles. Additionally, the majority of those affected by PCOS experience weight gain or problems losing weight.
How can the ketogenic diet help PCOS? It’s all hormonal. Increased amounts of the hormones insulin and androgen are the required duo for a PCOS diagnosis.
With the ketogenic diet, glucose levels go down as ketone levels go up. Lower glucose levels mean lower insulin levels. In turn, this means the ovaries have no need to produce more androgens, the male hormone. The result is the reduction or eradication of PCOS symptoms, including infertility. Gotta love that!
DECREASED INFLAMMATION ISSUES.
This category includes arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), acne and other skin problems. Luckily for people with these problems, the ketogenic diet is significantly anti-inflammatory.
There are different types of ketones present in a nutritional ketosis state. One of these suppresses an inflammation molecule commonly found in inflammatory processes. Because of this phenomenal link between the ketogenic diet and inflammatory relief, more research is forthcoming.
There is great news for folks with gastrointestinal problems such as gas, bloating, heartburn and acid reflux. Grains, particularly wheat, rye, and barley, are a food glue helping the grain hold its shape. The ketogenic diet is a grain-free way of eating. Therefore, these symptoms should lessen or completely abate simply by following the plan.
Another culprit for stomach and digestive issues is sugary foods. Because the ketogenic diet’s main concept is low-carb, sugars aren’t going to be an issue for the tummy either.
While this list of benefits isn’t exhaustive, it covers good ground on the health benefits of the ketogenic diet. Additionally, improved sleep, increased energy and stamina, and improved control of diabetes are other health-related benefits from keto dieting.
There is even strong evidence suggesting the ketogenic diet can help fight certain cancers. As research continues, the list continues to grow.
So, here we are at another conclusion, this time discussing what the keto diet and its many health benefits are. This material has been a little technical, so I hope it hasn’t been too confusing to read or understand. Do please let me know in the comments.
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