Obesity continues to be a significant health hazard in the US and the world. Many chronic diseases such as heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes are due to obesity, which is mostly associated with an unhealthy diet and an unhealthy lifestyle.
There are specific diets that aim for weight reduction to manage obesity to a certain extent. One such diet is the Keto Diet, which has been extremely effective for exponential weight loss.
What is the Keto Diet?
The Keto Diet is a very low-carbohydrate and high-fat diet. This diet is called “keto” because it causes your body to produce ketones, small fuel molecules. This fuel source is an alternative fuel source when your glucose (blood sugar) supply is low.
Consuming fewer carbohydrates and moderate protein increase your fat intake. Fewer intake of carbohydrates places your body into a metabolic state of ketosis. Ketosis is when your consumed fat is burned instead of stored.
When you are on a Keto diet, your body’s fuel supply runs on fat, allowing you to burn fats the whole day. When your blood sugar level drops, fat burning is dramatically increasing because it is easier to access stored fat for burning.
The fastest way to enter into a metabolic state of ketosis is by fasting, but of course, it is unhealthy to consistently fast.
Keto and Weight Loss
Getting into the Keto Diet can help you lose weight in the first three months compared to many other weight-loss diets. This may be because it takes more calories to convert fats into energy than it takes carbs to convert into energy.
It may also be that a high fat, high-protein diet can make you fuller faster, making you eat less.
The carbs you eat, especially sugar, usually increase your insulin levels. This prevents your body from burning fat. However, when you are on a Keto diet, the lack of carbs and conversely, low insulin levels allow optimum fat-burning.
Before you get started into the Keto diet to lose weight, you will need to plan. Do a lot of research and, more importantly, set your weight loss goals. Set goals that will motivate you to follow your Keto diet consistently. A 1-2 pounds per week weight loss is an achievable target.
Benefits of the Keto Diet
Other than weight loss, the Keto Diet has far more benefits to your body, especially with certain illnesses and diseases.
Avoid Heart Disease
You may be wondering how a high-fat diet can increase good cholesterol and decrease bad cholesterol. The truth is, that is exactly what the Keto diet does because this diet lowers your insulin levels and, therefore, prevents your body from producing more cholesterol.
Lower cholesterol makes you less likely to have hardened arteries, heart failure, high blood pressure, and other heart diseases.
Insulin allows your body to use stored sugar as fuel. The Keto diet makes you burn sugar into energy quickly, so you prevent storing some sugar in your body. Lower insulin levels slow down the growth of cancer cells or protect your body from some forms of cancer.
Low-carb diets keep your blood sugar levels lower than other diets. Compounds called ketones are produced when fats in your body are burned for energy. If you have type 1 diabetes, ketones in your blood will cause you to get sick.
A high intake of carbohydrates can affect your skin condition. Cutting down your consumption of carbohydrates will drop your levels of insulin. High levels of insulin can make your body produce hormones that can cause acne.
Avoid Nervous System Disorders
The nervous system includes your spine, nerves, and brain. The Keto diet can help you avoid such nervous system diseases as Epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and sleep disorders. This may be because ketones produced by your body transform fat into energy, protecting your brain cells from damage.
Is the Keto Diet Safe?
The Keto diet is probably the most popular weight loss diet today. The question is: Is it safe for everyone to try the Keto Diet? Speak to a doctor before starting the Keto diet, whether you have a medical condition or want to know how the diet may affect your good nutrition and good health.
The Keto is generally safe, but you will need to be conscious of these things:
- Find Keto-friendly and nutritious foods.
- Go for home-cooked healthy Keto meals.
- Determine your required daily calorie requirement
- Track your nutrition intake to ensure your body is getting what it needs each day.
You should also not get into the Keto diet if you have any of these medical conditions:
- Eating Disorders
- Type 1 Diabetes
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
- Thyroid Disease
People who have gallbladder problems should not also get into the Keto diet. Your gallbladder holds bile that helps in the digestive system. The absence of this organ will not support a high-fat diet.
There are many questions about the safety of the Keto diet. On the other hand, there have also been many success stories from people who consistently are on the Keto diet.
Downsides of the Keto Diet
The benefits of the Keto Diet are impressive, however, there is some downside to this diet:
- It is challenging to stick to the Keto diet. The diet can be tough to follow because you will be cutting your intake of carbs, and in the first three weeks, you will feel hungrier than usual.
- Mild low blood sugar, indigestion, or constipation are a few common responses of your body.
- A high-fat diet can increase your consumption of saturated fats and unhealthy Trans.
These downsides can be avoided by having a good meal plan hitting all your nutritional requirements. It can be a challenge to prepare a Keto diet, but you can work with a registered dietitian who knows about the Keto diet.
Other Health Benefits of the Keto Diet
Besides being able to address some medical conditions and, of course, weight loss, the Keto diet also has other health benefits.
The Keto diet shifts the source of energy of your body from glucose to fats. When you are into a low-carb diet, your body will burn fat instead of glucose. When your liver converts fatty acids into ketones, you go into a state of ketosis and ketones, which can become your body’s source of energy. When your body burns ketones, you will be able to gain these benefits:
- Strengthens and fuels your brain. Ketones and powerful can provide your brain with the majority of the energy it needs. Ketones are a better source of energy for the brain than glucose.
- Lowers inflammation. Your body responds to a harmful invader through inflammation. Too much inflammation can be bad for your body because it can cause chronic diseases. The Keto diet diverts inflammatory pathways, and ketones release fewer free radicals than glucose.
- Provides more energy. Ketones provide your brain with energy and, therefore, you will not experience energy slumps as you would if you eat a lot of carbs. When you are into the Keto diet, your brain will not panic, thinking of when it will get its next energy batch.
- Diminishes depression and anxiety. The Keto diet helps reduce anxiety because your brain benefits from consuming low levels of sugar and healthy fats.
- A healthier liver. Type 2 diabetes is characterized by the accumulation of fat in the liver. In extreme cases, the liver is damaged by fatty liver disease. If you are at risk of having a fatty liver, the Keto diet can be a big help.
- Sound sleep. Many people on the Keto diet say they are sleeping deeper, longer, and felt more rested when they wake up.
- Rise of energy levels. When you burn fat instead of glucose for energy, you improve your endurance.
- Diminished cravings. When you can control your levels of blood sugar, you can control your cravings. You will also be able to feel fuller longer.
While the Keto diet can efficiently metabolize fats so you can gain the benefits of this diet, a DNA health test can determine if the Keto diet is right for you. A DNA test will tell how efficiently you can metabolize fat.
How does the Keto Diet work?
The Keto diet focuses on weight loss. The other health benefits just happen to be incidental.
The keto diet is an extremely low carbohydrate, high-fat diet. When you eat meager meals in carbs and high in dietary fats, your body makes fats instead of glucose as the source of energy.
This diet will allow your body to metabolize efficiently and burn fat for energy. This is referred to as ketogenesis. Ketogenesis is the metabolic state of ketosis.
When you consume less than 50 grams of carbohydrates a day, your body will run out of blood sugar as its main energy source. Your body will then turn to burning fat and breaking down protein as a source of energy. This, in turn will make you lose weight.
The purpose of the Keto diet is to refuse your body of glucose. Glucose is the main source of energy of all your body cells. Your body gets glucose from food high in carbs. Glucose and fats are the body’s sources of energy.
A low-carb diet will not have enough glucose to provide your body with energy. Your body will then rely on burning fat to produce ketones for energy.
Your brain requires about 120 grams of glucose daily because it is unable to store glucose. When you eat a low carb diet, your body will first use stored glucose for energy. When insulin in your body decreases or is fully depleted, your body will use fats as the primary energy source.
When your body burns stored fat, you will lose weight.
Is it easy to follow the Keto Diet?
Getting into the Keto diet can, at first, be overwhelming. It is, however, easy to follow and can yield dramatic weight loss results. With the right mindset and a go signal from your doctor, you are on your way to melting off all of that excess weight.
There are three things to remember when you go into the Keto diet:
- Eat the right amount of Keto diet foods.
- Eat the right Keto diet foods.
- Brace yourself for keto flu (natural reaction of your body to carbohydrate restriction)
For many people, a low-carb, high-fat diet can be tough to maintain. The Keto diet can be easy to follow if you create simple eating routines that can be a habit over time.
Foods to Avoid when you follow the Keto Diet
If you want to stay within the Keto diet context, you will need to avoid these foods:
- Grains. The idea of the Keto diet is to get most of your calorie requirements from fats. Grains are filled with carbohydrates, which can derail your progress with the Keto diet. Pasta, bread, crackers, pizza crusts, and cookies made from grains are also high in carbs.
- Vegetables. Avoid all vegetables that grow under the ground (potatoes, peas, etc.). Avoid vegetables with high starch content because they contain mostly carbs. Be wary of pre-made foods and casseroles with these types of vegetables because they can increase your carb count.
- Fruits. Avoid fruits that contain high carbs and sugar (oranges, bananas, apples, etc.). Avoid frozen fruits, too, as they may contain sweeteners that are high in carbs.
- Dairy. Dairy products are usually low in carbs when you are consumed in moderation. Dairy products are high in carbs, so you should only take about 3-4 ounces daily.
- Legumes. Legumes such as peas and beans are rich in protein and high in carbs.
- Oils and unhealthy fats. A healthy amount of fat is vital to the Keto diet. These oils are carb-free, and your daily recommended requirements should only be 2-4 tablespoons per day.
- Beverages. Be mindful of what you eat. Beverages often have a significant amount of hidden carbs and sugar. Water should be your primary source of liquid, drinking 6-8 glasses daily.
Knowing which foods to avoid, you can now start living a low carbohydrate lifestyle. Dietitians who specialize in the Keto diet, however, say that those mentioned above are not off-limits. You should just limit your intake of carbs to under 20-40 grams per day.
The Keto diet is high in fats, low in carbs, and moderate in protein. The low-carb diet (20-40 grams per day) to achieve ketosis aims to help you lose weight. Make sure to get adequate fiber, minerals, and vitamins needed by your body.
It is essential to eat only carbs that are non-starchy and rich in nutrients. Whole foods will also make you feel fuller longer and prevent your sugar cravings. Keto-friendly foods include:
Your Keto diet should consist of 20-30% protein. Low carb with the right protein balance will protect muscle mass and supply amino acids to your liver. This will produce new glucose for your organs and cells that will not allow the use of ketones as fuel sources.
Low-carb fruits should include such varieties as blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, tomatoes, strawberries, limes, lemons, and coconut. Avocados and olives are also sources of healthy fat.
Include about 15 grams of vegetables in your diet daily. Choose vegetables with low carb content such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, zucchini, spinach, etc. Stick to low-carb vegetables that grow above ground, especially green and leafy vegetables, whether fresh or frozen.
Low carb vegetables can take the place of rice, potatoes, pasta, and other starches. It is also possible to have a full-vegan or vegetarian diet.
Meat and poultry
Meat and poultry are excellent sources of no-net-carb protein. They are one of the most Keto-friendly foods, too. Make sure to get three 6-ounce servings of protein daily.
Ham, bacon, and some processed meat have sugar that will increase your carb count. Meat and cold cuts with nitrates should also be avoided.
Unprocessed meat is keto-friendly because they are low in carbs. Grass-fed and organic meat can even be healthier. However, do not take too much protein because the Keto diet should be high in fat and not high in protein.
An increase in fat replaces the low carb Keto diet. Fats should account for about 60% of your daily calorie intake. Choose healthy fats from high-quality plants and animals, including avocado oil, olive oil, eggs, fish, and cheese, which are likewise sources of protein.
Fish and shellfish
Fish and shellfish are high in Omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamins B2 and D, minerals (iron, copper, zinc, potassium, and magnesium), and healthy fats. Have fish or shellfish servings of about 4-6 ounces two to three times a week.
Seeds and nuts
Seeds and nuts are high in fat and low in carbs. They are also a great source of protein and seeds, which are sources of fiber. Coated or flavored nuts should, however, be avoided because they are a source of extra carbs. Try to limit your intake of nuts to about 50 grams or ½ cup daily.
Water, club soda, zero-calorie seltzers, about 2 cups of regular or decaffeinated coffee, tea, herbal tea (minus the added fruit sugar or barley), unsweetened almond milk, and soy are allowable beverages in the Keto diet.
Be mindful of your beverages. They can be a significant source of carbs and hidden sugars.
Fats and sauces
The Keto diet should be high in fat, and this is where most of the calories should come from. Besides high-fat and natural fat sources (fish, meat, eggs), you should also include high-fat sauces such as garlic butter, Bearnaise sauce, etc. Fat is friendly when on a Keto diet.
Eggs are rich in antioxidants, vitamin A and protein. Whether boiled, scrambled, omelets or fried in butter, eggs are top Keto diet foods. Pastured or organic eggs are the healthiest options.
Use milk sparingly in your coffee – a maximum of 1 tablespoon for every cup of coffee. High-fat dairy consumption can include cheese, butter, and heavy cream.
As a general rule for the Keto diet, go for foods with less than 5% carbs.
Keto and Fat Burn
The Keto diet is high in fat and low in carb. This diet makes you feel fuller longer because it takes a longer time to digest fatty foods. If you do not feel hungry often, you will eat less. Eating less will lower your intake of calories for the day.
The Keto diet will make you full longer and take away the discomfort associated with a weight loss regimen.
If you are into the Keto diet to lose weight, you aim to burn more calories than you consume. With this premise, you can either decrease your intake of calories, burn more calories by exercising, or both.
Burning fat while not losing too much muscle mass despite the fact that weight loss is the Keto diet’s aim. It can be challenging to retain muscle mass when you lose weight, but the Keto diet prevents such.
Preserving muscle mass is crucial while you lose weight because it prevents the lowering of your metabolic rate. A low metabolic rate makes up most of your burned calories.
Your body gets energy mostly from burning sugar, usually from carbs. When your body is low on sugar (while fasting or doing strenuous exercise), it will start to reserve its sugar. Your body will then turn to burn fat for energy.
While a Keto diet offers many health benefits, many people say it can be difficult to follow consistently. Some ketone supplements can imitate ketosis and increase levels of blood ketone without changing your lifestyle and diet.
There are certain foods to avoid while on the Keto diet. You will tend to develop some uncomfortable side effects when you go into carbohydrate restriction.
Your body usually burns carbs for energy; however, when you eat few or no carbs at all, as with the Keto diet, your body needs to rely on other sources for energy. Your body will then turn to burn fats and use them as energy (ketosis).
When you begin with your Keto diet, you will most likely develop Keto flu. Keto flu is characterized by:
- Sleeping difficulties
- Concentration problems
- Stomach cramps
You can minimize Keto flu symptoms by taking Keto supplements that may be helpful while you are on the Keto diet.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
High amounts of omega-3 fatty acids are present in eggs and fatty fish, seeds, and nuts. Consuming a fair amount of fatty acids helps in preventing weight gain.
If you are on the Keto diet and do not eat seafood or grass-fed meat, you can instead take an omega-3 supplement.
Omega-3 supplements come from various origins and vary in dosage. Some come for algae, fish oil, flaxseed, krill oil, and other omega-3 sources,
Your body has an abundance of the mineral magnesium. Your body needs magnesium to transmit nerve signals, food metabolism, maintenance of muscle and bone health, the balance of fluids, and more.
Some Keto-friendly foods such as spinach and nuts are rich in magnesium. Some may also be low in magnesium, such as beans, fruits, dairy products, and whole grains. When your body is lacking in magnesium due to your Keto diet, you may need magnesium supplements.
Constipation is a common occurrence while on the Keto diet. Fiber intake is essential to keep your digestive system healthy. You can take fiber supplements without sugar to prevent constipation while on the Keto diet.
Medium-chain triglyceride oil
Medium-chain triglyceride oil (MCT) oil is a fatty acid. Your liver will metabolize fats and make them a source of fuel. Most Keto-friendly foods do not contain MCTs, so you will need to take a supplement to benefit from these fats.
Your kidney may excrete more water when your body is adjusting to the Keto diet. The increased excretion may cause your body to lose electrolytes. An electrolyte supplement aims to balance the levels of electrolytes in your body. The supplement should not also contain sweeteners or sugar.
Common Keto Questions:
Here are some commonly asked questions about the Keto diet.
How much average weight do people lose on Keto?
Most people go into the Keto diet to lose weight. The question, though, remains: how much average weight can you lose with the Keto diet? The numbers may vary for every person because it depends on several factors:
- How long you intend to be on the Keto diet
- Your weight loss goal
- Side effects
- Amount of excess weight
- Health situation
- How fast your body will go into a state of ketosis
- Eating habits
- Exercise regimen
Consistency is the key to lose weight with the Keto diet successfully. On average, you can lose about 1 or 2 pounds per week. The important thing is to treat the Keto diet as a lifestyle changed and not merely a diet plan.
How long does it take to start losing weight on the Keto diet?
As mentioned, every person is different; thus, each person responds differently to the Keto diet. On average, here is what to expect when you are on a Keto diet to lose weight:
- First Week. You should start to lose about 2 to 10 pounds during the first week. This weight loss is mostly water weight you will lose because of your low carb diet.
- Following Weeks. After the first week, you should lose about 1-2 pounds each week. This time you will be losing fat instead of water.
- Long-Term. As you remain long into the Keto diet, there will be weeks where you will not be losing weight, and there will be weeks when you would suddenly lose up to 5 pounds only in one week.
All these are common when you are on the Keto diet. You just need to make sure that you are eating the right amounts of fats, calories, and protein while sticking to a low carb diet.
Does Keto work for weight loss?
In the short-term, the Keto diet works to make you lose weight. A review by the National Lipid Association states that a very low-carb, high-fat diet is more effective in losing weight than the more common high-carb, low-fat diet.
Carol F. Kirkpatrick, the lead author of the review and Idaho State University’s Wellness Center’s director, says that the Keto diet’s weight loss benefits will be gone in the 12th month. The Keto diet is the best way to start a diet and lose weight.
Top Mistakes that people make on the Keto Diet
Getting into the Keto diet can seem overwhelming; however, there have been many success stories on weight loss due to the Keto diet. Long-term weight loss is the greatest motivation for being consistent with the Keto diet.
To successfully lose weight with Keto, make sure to avoid these common mistakes:
- Focusing on counting calories instead of food quality. Keto is a low-carb diet, but you also need to focus on the quality of food you include in your meals to improve your health. Include foods rich in Omega-3 and try to include fruits and vegetables that are rich in nutrients.
- Abruptly going into a low-carb and high-fat diet. Before starting on the Keto diet, taper off your body from carbohydrates. Slowly limit your intake of carbohydrates before ultimately going into a low-carb diet. Your body may not respond well to the drastic change.
- Not including foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. The Keto diet is a high-fat diet but does not just focus on cream, cheese, and bacon. When choosing fatty foods to include in your meal plan, including Omega-3 fatty acids found in mussels, salmon, oysters, and sardines to name a few.
- Not drinking enough water. While focusing on what to eat, make sure to drink enough water to avoid dehydration, which is possible while on the Keto diet. The sudden decrease in carb intake can affect your electrolyte and fluid balance.
Carbs and water are stored together in your body. As for carbs in your body decreases, water is lost, too.
- Not taking enough salt. It is necessary to take enough salt while on the Keto diet because ketones can cause your body to lose sodium. Add more salt into the food you prepare because table salt will not suffice.
- Not minding your vegetable intake. Vegetables are rich in carbs, and you should be conscious not to over-consume them because they can prevent you from getting into ketosis. Consume non-starchy vegetables to compete with your nutrient requirement.
- Not preparing for Keto flu. You should be aware of and prepare for Keto flu during the first few weeks. This prevents you from thinking that something is wrong in what you are doing and discontinue your Keto diet.
Where to start with the Keto Diet?
The first success factor of the Keto diet is starting it off the right way. The better you approach your Keto diet, the fewer mistakes you will make, and the better you will manage your lifestyle change.
These steps assume that you are into the Keto diet to lose weight.
1. Set your fitness goal. If your goal is to lose weight, your plan should be to focus on calorie reduction.
2. Calculate your daily calorie requirement with the Keto diet. Determine how many calories you should only consume every day to lose weight.
3. Calculate your Keto Macros requirement. Calculating your keto macros is as important as calorie control when you want to lose weight with the Keto diet. Achieving your carb intake goal is crucial to get into ketosis.
4. Plan your Keto meals. Choose the foods you want to include in your keto meals based on the foods you can eat and foods to avoid. Make sure to choose nutritious foods to boost your energy levels, potential cravings, and moods to be consistent with your Keto diet.
When you decide to go into the Keto diet for weight loss, make sure to stick to your goals.