In an attempt to get in shape fast, many people turn to diets that promise rapid weight loss. Over the past few years, a keto diet has emerged as one of the most effective methods to lose weight, with an added benefit of mental clarity. If you have never heard about this diet before, read on to find out more about it in detail.
Defining a Ketogenic Diet
A ketogenic diet can be defined as a diet high in fat, moderate in protein, and low in carbs. The main premise of this type of diet is to produce ketones, which are metabolites of fatty acids that can be used in place of glucose to fuel the body cells.
The diet generally consists of meat, eggs, nuts, butter, cheese, seeds, oils, and leafy vegetables. Fruits, grains, potatoes, sweets, certain vegetables, and other high-carb foods are not allowed. The rule of thumb for eating a keto diet is this: consume 5% of total calories from carbs, 20% from protein, and 75% from fat. This means that you are only allowed to eat only 20 to 50 grams of carbohydrates a day.
How the Diet Works
When you consume carbohydrate, it is broken down into glucose – or blood sugar responsible for providing energy for all of the bodily processes. Glucose is stored in a number of ways – as glycogen in the liver and muscle tissue and as excess fat in the adipose cells.
The body is not too selective when it comes to the source of glucose to draw energy from. That being said, the brain, the central nervous system, and developing red blood cells tend to favor glucose over other sources.
If you start to run out of glycogen, your body will break down protein and fat for fuel. The problem here is that your brain cells cannot directly use them. This is where ketones come in. In the case that there are no carbs left to supply energy, your body will begin to generate ketones that can give energy for nearly all kinds of cells.
Downsides to a Low-Carb Diet
When you are trying to lose weight, either by going on a keto diet or any other restrictive diet, your body will most likely think that you are starving. As a result, it holds onto whatever nutrients they can find. Without consistent energy, your metabolism becomes slower, making it harder for you to continue limiting food intake and maintain your current diet. This explains why starving yourself is not healthy and definitely not an effective way to maintain weight loss.
By cutting out a whole food group, your intake will be reduced as a result. While it is true that you can eat more protein and fat, these nutrients are less likely to be over-consumed than carbs. For example, you are more likely to eat three buns in one go, but you will have a much harder time when trying to finish three steaks or avocados. In addition, cutting out carbs entirely will leave you without certain essential nutrients such as the vitamins and minerals found in vegetables and fruits.
Other Important Considerations
It is important to note that a ketogenic diet may give you short-term results, but the weight loss is likely not going to be permanent. As storing glycogen requires water, you may experience a rapid loss of water weight after your glycogen stores are used up during ketosis. As soon as you start to consume more carbs, you may rapidly regain the weight that you have lost.
On top of that, this low-carb diet can ruin your relationship with food for good. More often than not, people on a diet only see food for its nutritive components that they may have forgotten how much joy and satisfaction food can bring them. Even worse, heavy food restrictions can lead to eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia. Therefore, it is better that you focus on eating healthy and in moderation rather than being overly anxious about everything that you put in your mouth.