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Is the Keto Diet Right for You?
Are you interested in losing weight? Are you tired of diets that advocate low or no fats and craving your high fat meats? You may well consider going on the keto diet, the new kid on the block. Endorsed by many celebrities, including Halle Berry, LeBron James and Kim Kardashian among others, the keto diet has been the subject of much debate among dieticians and doctors. Wondering if the keto diet is safe and right for you?
What is the ketogenic diet anyway?
You should be aware that the body uses sugar in the form of glycogen to function. The keto diet which is extremely limited in sugar forces your body to use fat as fuel instead of sugar because it is not getting enough sugar. If the body does not get enough sugar for fuel, the liver is forced to convert the available fat into ketones which are used by the body as fuel – hence the term ketogenic.
This diet is a high-fat diet with moderate amounts of protein. Depending on your carb intake, the body reaches a state of ketosis in less than a week and stays there. When fat is used instead of sugar for fuel in the body, the weight loss is dramatic without any supposed restriction of calories.
The keto diet is such that you should aim to get 60-75% of your daily calories from fat, 15-30% from protein and only 5-10% from carbohydrates. This usually means that you can only eat 20-50 grams of carbohydrates per day.
What can you eat on this diet?
The diet is a high-fat diet somewhat similar to Atkins. However, there is more emphasis on fat, usually ‘good’ fats. On the keto diet you can have
Beef with grass
Full fat cheese
You can also get a whole range of snacks meant for keto followers. As you can see from this list, fruits are limited. You can have fruits with low sugar in a limited amount (mostly berries), but you will have to leave your favorite fruits because they are all sweet and/or starchy.
This diet includes no grains of any kind, starchy vegetables such as potatoes (and all tubers), no sugar or sweets, no breads and cakes, no beans and lentils, no pasta, no pizza and hamburgers and very little alcohol. This also means no coffee with milk or tea with milk – in fact no milk and ice cream and milk based desserts.
Many of these have solutions, as you can get no-carb pasta and pizza, you can have cauliflower rice and now there are even restaurants that cater to keto fanatics.
What are the benefits of the keto diet?
If you are wondering if this diet is safe, its proponents and those who have achieved their weight loss goals will certainly agree that it is safe. Among the benefits of the keto diet you can expect:
Loss of weight
Reduced or no sugar spikes
Seizure controlling effect
Blood pressure normalizes in patients with high blood pressure
Reduced attacks of migraine
Type 2 diabetes patients on this diet may be able to reduce their medication
Some benefits for those suffering from cancer
Apart from the first four, there is not enough evidence to support the effectiveness or otherwise for other diseases, because much more research is needed in the long term.
Are there any side effects of this diet?
When you first start the keto diet, you may suffer from what is known as keto flu. These symptoms may not occur in all people and usually start a few days after being on the diet, when your body is in a state of ketosis. Some of the side effects are:
Cramps and abdominal pain
Diarrhea and/or constipation
Dizziness and poor concentration
Carbohydrate and sugar cravings
These can take up to a week to disappear as your body gets used to the new diet regime. You may also suffer from other problems when you start the keto diet – you may find that you have increased urination, so it’s important to keep yourself well hydrated. You may also suffer from keto breath when your body reaches optimal ketosis and you may use a mouthwash or brush your teeth more often.
Usually the side effects are temporary and once your body acclimatises to the new diet, these should disappear.
How safe is the keto diet?
Just like any other diet that restricts foods in specific categories, the keto diet is not without risks. Because you should not eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, beans and lentils and other foods, you may suffer from a lack of many essential nutrients. Since the diet is high in saturated fats and, if you gave in to ‘bad’ fats, you may have high cholesterol levels that increase your risk of heart disease.
In the long term, the keto diet can also cause many nutritional deficiencies, as you cannot eat grains, many fruits and vegetables and lack fiber as well as important vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants among other things. You may suffer from gastrointestinal distress, reduced bone density (no dairy and other sources of calcium) and kidney and liver problems (the diet puts extra stress on both organs).
Is the keto diet safe for you?
If youare ready to ditch your usual diet staples and really want to lose weight, you may be tempted to try the keto diet. The biggest problem with this diet is poor patient compliance due to the carbohydrate restriction, so you need to be sure that you can live with your food choices. If you find it just too difficult to follow, you can go on a version of the modified keto diet that offers more carbohydrates.
However, the keto diet is definitely effective in helping you lose weight. According to a recent study, many of the obese patients followed were successful in losing weight. All the problems they encountered were temporary. If you don’t have any major health problems except for obesity and have been unsuccessful in losing weight after any conventional diet, the keto diet may be a viable option. You must be absolutely determined to lose the weight and be prepared to go on a restricted diet as specified. Even if you have medical problems, you can take the advice of your doctor and the guidance of a nutritionist and go on this diet.
Another study that was conducted for a longer time showed that going on the keto diet is beneficial in weight loss and also results in reduced cholesterol levels with a decrease in bad cholesterol and an increase in good cholesterol.
Is the keto diet safe for you? Most doctors and nutritionists agree that the keto diet is good for short-term weight loss. As for the long term, more studies are needed. Keep in mind that obesity is not an appropriate choice as it comes with its own risk of health problems.
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