What is it? | How to follow | Variations | How to check | Risks & Benefits | In Diabetes | Diabetic Ketoacidosis | Reduce side effects | Long term effects
Ketogenic Diet, the latest buzz in the world of diet plans, is a high-fat, low-carb diet. Keto diet plan claims that by eating more fat, you feel less hungry. There are positive and negative long term effects of keto diet depending upon various conditions.
It can also lower blood sugar in case of type 2 diabetes and boosts metabolism.
Does this diet offer something for everyone? What are the exact long term effects of ketogenic diet? There are lots of questions we have answered in this article.
What is Ketogenic Diet?
In a Ketogenic diet the body consumes lesser carbohydrates, burns the stored fat, thereby aiding weight loss.
The body uses energy which it gets by converting the carbohydrates of foods into glucose or blood sugar. Glucose is the simplest form of energy, so the body always uses it before stored fat for energy.
The goal of a ketogenic diet is to restrict the consumption of cabs so that the body burns fat for energy. When this process starts, fat gets broken down in the liver and ketones are produced.
When glucose is absent, the body uses these ketones for energy.
In Keto diet the basic rule to attain the state of ketosis is to drastically reduce the intake of carbs. You can use our ketogenic calculator to calculate your nutritional needs and form a custom diet plan for your goal.
According to a study an adult male consumes about 47% of daily calories, whereas a female consumes 49.6% calories from carbohydrates.
In the traditional ketogenic diet, fat is the source of 80 to 90% of calories. 5 to 10 % calories from carbs and 5 to 15% calories from proteins.
A variant of the ketogenic diet allows about 20-30% of calories from proteins, keeping the carbohydrates for 5-10% of calories. This form of a ketogenic diet is more common in use for diet plans.
A ketogenic diet is used to achieve weight loss, weight management and to improve athletic performance.
To achieve weight loss, the idea is to push the body into the state of ketosis which will escalate fat loss. When the body does have enough glucose stored that metabolic process is called ketosis.
When the stored glucose is exhausted, the body uses the stored fat for energy and ketones are produced in the process. These ketones are used for energy.
To check if you are in the phase of ketosis, you need to check your urine for ketones. If you test positive for ketones, it is an indication that you are in a state of ketosis. To test urine for ketosis, you can buy ketone strips online or from your nearest pharmacy store.
Nutritional ketosis is associated with the ketogenic diet is different from ketoacidosis which is a diabetic medical emergency.
In diabetic people, increasing ketone levels can lead to a severe medical condition. When the body is either insulin resistant or does not produce enough insulin, it cannot use glucose. Then the body starts burning the stored fat and it leads to a build-up of ketones in the body.
Ketone level rises for a diabetic person, the blood becomes more acidic and this condition is called diabetic ketoacidosis. This condition is very dangerous and requires immediate medical intervention.
Any online search about “keto diet” will bring up many results and claims about its benefits. Before trying a ketogenic diet, you need to understand the science behind it and how it can affect your health.
There are some potential risks that you should be aware of before switching to a Keto diet.
Risks of Keto Diet:
Short term and long term effects of keto diet are listed below. A person can face one or many of them together while transitioning to a keto diet or during a keto diet plan phase.
- Keto Flu: A condition where the body feels repulsive and tired when trying to adjust to a low-carb diet. Common symptoms that you will notice during keto flu are headache, tiredness, sleep problems, cramps, and diarrhea.
- Constipation: When fruits and vegetables are eliminated from the diet, it can lead to some gastrointestinal effects. The most common of these are keto constipation and diarrhea.
- Nutrient Deficiency: Keto diet eliminates many food groups and is often low in calcium, potassium, Vitamin D, etc. Over time, this can lead to serious nutrient deficiencies.
- Harmful for the heart: Keto diet is rich in proteins and animal fats, so it can negatively affect the heart. Anyone who is at risk of developing heart diseases or diagnosed with it should not try this diet. People with high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels should switch to keto diet only after necessary consultation with a doctor.
- Low Blood Sugar Levels: Diabetic people, if considering to try the keto diet, should consult with their health care professional first. When the body is deficient in carbohydrates, it may lead to low blood sugar to a dangerous level. With a medication regimen or taking insulin, it may require a significant change and adjustment to prevent any chance of hypoglycemia.
- Negative effect on metabolism: Being restrictive, sometimes it becomes difficult to follow a keto diet for the long term. When a person returns his normal eating habits, he can quickly gain the lost weight. Gaining and losing the same weight over and over again can harm metabolism and health.
Benefits of the Keto Diet:
- Improved Athletic Performance: Following a keto diet can show good results to improve performance for athletes. Depending on stored fats for energy than carbohydrates can help athletes an improved recovery time also.
- Aids Weight Loss Fast: A keto diet can help in weight loss by suppressing appetite. There is no magical weight loss, but by restricting food choices and lesser calories, this can be achieved. As the diet is low-carb, it cuts down many calories and thus helps in weight loss.
- Helpful in Type 2 Diabetes: Switching to a keto diet can benefit diabetic people with better glucose management. It is seen that reducing carbohydrates may reduce or end the need for medication in people with type 2 diabetes.
ALSO READ: HOW TO READ KETONE STRIPS TO CHECK KETOSIS
The basis of a keto diet is reducing the intake of carbs which is also a way to control blood sugar. So this diet is becoming increasingly popular with people with type 2 diabetes. Following a keto diet can help to lower the A1C level which is a measure of average blood sugar level. Researches suggest that keto diet can help in weight management and lower blood sugar level.
But dietitians warn that it can be risky for diabetic people as the sugar levels can drop dangerously low. It can also cause kidney damage due to buildup of ketones in the blood. If you are already diabetic consult your doctor to know if a keto diet is a safe eating habit for you.
Few Things to Assess Before Trying a Keto Diet
Can you follow it for the long term?
You will need to carefully monitor your food choices as the keto diet will drastically restrict the intake of carbohydrates. Ensure that the diet you follow is healthy to reduce the risk of complications and side effects of a keto diet.
Following a keto diet plan should help your goal of a healthy lifestyle and not just weight loss. Keto diet is not a right choice for you if you cannot follow low-carb restrictions for a long time.
Which Keto diet to follow?
A Keto diet can be of various kinds. Most of the people follow a “standard” keto diet plan which allows 10% of total calories from carbohydrates. Some other known forms of this diet are cyclic keto diet and targeted keto diet.
These modifications are mostly used by athletes to improve their performance and endurance levels. These are not considered suitable for people focusing only on weight loss.
10% Carbs should be the limit
In general terms, during a keto diet plan, less than 10% of your total calories from carbohydrates per day. The remaining 20-30% should come from proteins and 60-80% from fat. So if your daily dietary recommendation is 2000 calories, not more than 200 calories should be from carbs.
Exercise and Standard Ketogenic Diet
A Keto diet does not require any exercise, but a little exercise can help to reduce and maintain healthy body weight. For athletes, switching to a keto diet may help to reduce recovery time after training. But casual exercisers may feel a good drop in their energy level. In such a case, it is advised to make a slow shift rather than rushing to make dietary changes.
To reduce or eliminate the side effects, the transition to a keto diet should be gradual. Calculate your carbohydrate intake and then start by gradually reducing the carbohydrates and increasing the fats over a few weeks. Guidance from healthcare professionals will make sure that dietary changes are good for your health and overall goals.
What to eat in a Ketogenic Diet?
Keto diet is not a commercial meal plan, but changes in the eating habits can sometimes increase food bills. Buying more whole and unprocessed foods that are keto-diet-friendly can be costlier than packaged and processed foods.
You can reduce the costs by buying fresh and in-season products and frozen vegetables. In the case of animal products, nuts, and seeds, buying in bulk can be a good option to lower costs.
Importance of plant based food in keto diet plan
Using more plant-based fats like olive oil and avocado oil will help in reducing cost . Fat rich foods like avocado and nuts will provide the needed unsaturated fats and fiber to the body.
Non-starchy leafy vegetables should be a large part of the diet. Fish, poultry are good sources of lean proteins.
Acceptable foods for a standard Ketogenic diet
- Fats from plant-based oils and butter
- Dairy products like eggs and cheese
- Proteins from fish, soybeans, poultry, pork, and beef.
- Nuts and seeds like walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds.
- Non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, onions, and mushrooms.
- Fruits like avocado, berries, coconut, and rhubarb.
This can be used in keto diet safely for a certain period of time. But, there are not studies to show long term effects of keto diet with these same food items. Moreover an individual cannot live on these keto foods for entire life. There are many water soluble vitamins which require raw vegetables, sometimes fruits etc to compensate.
Foods to avoid in a Ketogenic diet
- Processed foods like corn chips and potato chips
- Sweets like candies, cakes, and brownies
- Grains like rice, quinoa, including pasta and bread.
- High carb fruits like melons and tropical fruits
- Artificial sweeteners
Keto diet can help in a fast weight loss, it can lead to some problems like constipation, nutritional deficiency, etc.
There are a few studies that shows the long term effects of keto diet. Especially one of them might not project a great picture if you are a keto enthuisast.
As per a study by American College of Cardiology [Reference]
"Study suggests using caution when restricting carbohydrates for weight loss"
But, further they also clarify that there were no exact evidences that the heart problems occurred due to low carbohydrate diet. More studies are expected to come up with some conclusion.
Those suffering from any heart or kidney diseases should not try a keto diet . Even if you are at a risk of such issue you should not try keto diet.
Keto diet plan may be helpful for people in type 2 diabetes, but a prior doctor consultation is always good.
Due to restrictions on carb intake, it may be difficult to follow this diet for a long time. Getting back to normal eating habits may result in overall weight gain. More over studies on long term effects of keto diet plan are not many that proves it safety and sustainability.
Consult a good healthcare practitioner to help you with a gradual transition for a healthy lifestyle change.
Have patience while you wait for the body to go into ketogenesis during weight loss. Because effects of keto diet is different on different people. Some bodies react fast and some slow.