The ketogenic or keto diet is an effective and increasingly popular diet for weight loss that also grants many other health benefits, including increased energy and focus – if done right. However, most people who do not do enough research and do not fully understand the mechanism behind the keto diet, end up either unsuccessful or giving up. Knowledge is the key for a successful keto dieting journey, and we are here to provide that, so keep reading.
What is the keto diet?
The keto diet is a diet based on a very-low-carbohydrate, high-fat and moderate-protein intake. The daily dietary macronutrients should be equal to approximately 55-60% fat, 30-35% protein, and 5-10% carbohydrates.
Specifically, in a 2000 kcal per day diet, the carbohydrate intake should amount up to 20-50g carbs per day. This is a drastic reduction of carbohydrate intake – an average, non-dieting person eats anywhere between 225 and 325 grams of carbohydrates a day. This reduction in carbs puts the body into ketosis.
Ketosis is a metabolic state that involves the production of ketone bodies and using them for energy instead of carbohydrates. It occurs due to a reduced amount of glucose in the blood, that causes shifting of the body’s metabolism towards fat utilization for energy instead of carbs. The increased rate of fat metabolism yields by-products, that accumulate and convert into ketone bodies that, as the glucose concentration in the body go down, become the primary source of fuel for the body, along with free fatty acids.
How do I lose weight in ketosis?
Normally, glucose is the main source of energy for most tissues in the body. When there is a very reduced glucose concentration in the blood, for example in starvation or ketogenic dieting, the body goes through some changes.
First, the organs and tissues begin to utilize glucose stores in forms of glycogen. After a couple of days, the glycogen stores are depleted and the body is forced to find another fuel to provide energy.
As glucose levels in the body go down, levels of the hormone insulin go down as well, which permits fatty acids to be released from fat stores in large amounts. Most tissues of the body begin to utilize these free fatty acids in the process of fat oxidation, or in other words, the body starts to “burn fat”.
However, some organs and tissues, most notably the brain, cannot use free fatty acids and preferably use glucose for energy. But if glucose availability is low, it can readily use ketone bodies instead. In the process called ketogenesis, the by-products of the breakdown of free fatty acids get converted into ketone bodies, which can now be used for energy.
Ketosis is a very important physiological process used to provide fuel to tissues that are glucose dependent, most importantly the brain and other nervous tissue. By the end of the third week in ketosis, the brain derives up to 75% of its total energy requirements from ketones.
What are the benefits of a keto diet?
In addition to fast and effective weight loss, the ketogenic diet provides many other health benefits that can improve one’s quality of life dramatically.
The keto diet essentially shifts your body’s metabolism to burn body fat instead of dietary carbs. In the case of excess body fat, fat burning during ketosis occurs at a much more efficient rate.
It is proven scientifically that the ketogenic diet has shown better results in weight loss both in the short-term and long-term, compared to high-carb and low-fat diets.
Blood sugar control
When you ingest any type of carbs, they get broken down into glucose, which is a type of sugar. This causes your blood sugar level to spike, which in turn causes an insulin spike, to help and lower the sugar levels.
On keto, reduced carb intake cause levels of glucose and insulin in the blood to stabilize.
This can be very useful in preventing and managing insulin resistance, prediabetes, and type II diabetes. Studies have also shown that the ketogenic diet is a more effective way to manage your blood sugar and insulin levels than low-calorie diets.
Even though the brain preferably uses glucose for energy, it can readily use ketone bodies in the absence of carbs. In fact, when carb intake is reduced, there are no rapid blood sugar fluctuations, which can alter focus and concentration and cause a feeling of weakness and tire. When ketone bodies are used as fuel, they provide a steadier source of energy throughout the day.
Food cravings and hunger, in general, are basically caused by sudden blood sugar drops, that are typical when a person is on a high-carb diet, especially a diet filled with of refined sugars.
Fats are known to be naturally more filling and satisfying and tend to keep a satiated state for longer spans of time, which means you won’t be craving nearly as much sugar as you would on a low calorie, low-fat diet. This is due to the fact that fat is much slower to digest and calorically more dense than carbs.
Fats are shown to be a better and more reliable source of energy, which gives a feeling of being more energized during the day.
A low-carb diet stabilizes blood sugar, reduces inflammation, and alters the gut bacteria in the alimentary tract, all three of which can help prevent and manage acne.
If you are interested in starting keto diet, stay tuned for more articles on the topic. We are compiling a series of articles about keto diet with all the latest findings and information.