We want to lose weight without being hungry. We want to eat to prevent or manage diabetes. That’s why the keto diet is so popular. It works quickly without forcing us to endure the hunger pains so common with other diets. It has worked for me and millions of other people.
What Is Ketosis
Ketosis is defined as a metabolic state where the body burns fat instead of carbohydrates for fuel. Ketones are acids produced in the liver. A low carb diet causes ketosis and is most often associated with weight loss and as a diabetic’s best dietary way to address sugar levels.
In healthy people, ketosis usually begins after about three days of consuming fewer than 50 grams of carbohydrates daily. After the glycogen reserve in your muscles has been burned, your blood sugar levels are low and your body enters into ketosis.
The Keto Diet
The standard keto diet is an eating plan made up of 75 percent fat and 20 percent protein. What makes this diet so unique is the strict limit placed on carbohydrates of no more than five percent of the caloric intake. By limiting carbohydrates so drastically, the body goes into ketosis—a fat-burning metabolic state.
Evolutionarily speaking, this can be explained as the body turning to stored energy in times where food was scarce. While this metabolic system may have evolved to keep us from starving—ketosis has many practical health benefits in modern times!
Benefits of Ketosis
The main benefits of ketosis are weight loss and improved blood sugar levels. Research also indicates that ketosis promotes healthy aging and brain health. Other lesser-known benefits are possible neurological disorder improvement and a faster recovery period for people with spinal cord injuries.
One of the reasons diabetics have embraced the keto diet is because eating a low carb diet improves blood sugar levels. The biology behind this benefit is simple. Since carbohydrates turn into sugar in the body, a low carb diet lowers sugar levels which means achieving a more stable blood sugar level. The ketogenic diet has been found to have very high potential as a type II diabetes treatment.
When any discussion turns to popular diets for weight loss, the keto diet is sure to be touted as an excellent option. For those with extra weight to lose, the ketogenic diet seems to be a perfect fit. One, it forces one to eat fewer carbs (goodbye love-handles) and two; it forces the body to start burning fat rather than carbs! This isn’t just a pseudo-scientific opinion: research suggests that long-term adoption of ketogenic eating significantly lowers body weight and body mass index of overweight persons.
Several ketogenic-focused studies suggest that the ketogenic diet may have a positive impact on neurodegenerative disease. The way it works is that ketosis minimizes the oxidative damage to neurons present in the neocortex. Damage in this part of the brain is associated with the disease.
The Immune System
Yale School of Medicine researchers found that ketones contribute to immunity health. An animal study showed allergic reactions were reduced when ketones were present at higher levels. A ketogenic diet clears out old cells so that strong new cells can replace them, reducing allergic reactions.
A ketogenic diet has many proven benefits. Whether you’re looking to lose weight fast of improving neurological health—a keto diet has something to offer. Ketosis isn’t all sunshine and smiles, however. There are potential side effects and/or medical complications that everyone should be aware of. In addition, one should seek to monitor blood-ketone levels as accurately as possible while in ketosis. After all, you’ll want to know when the shift happens, right?
Measuring Ketone Levels
One of the difficulties of successfully navigating a keto diet is knowing whether you have reached a state of ketosis. While a keto meal plan may seem easy to follow, it is far too easy to mistakenly eat too many carbohydrates which will prevent ketosis. Urine strips can be used to test ketone levels. There is also a breath test that can be used.
The Keto Flu
Like so many diets, the keto diet has some negative side effects when you first get started. The first couple of days tend to be the worst as your body tries to adjust to suddenly being deprived of sugar. Due to the similarity of the symptoms, you feel from the beginning of a keto diet and the flu, the term “keto flu” is used to describe the way beginners on the keto diet feel.
Symptoms of the keto flu are irritability, hunger, dizziness, nausea, and exhaustion. While these feelings are unpleasant, once you get past this initial stage, dieters report feeling energized. In fact, one of the reasons people are able to stick with the keto diet is because they don’t feel hungry all the time like they do on many other restrictive eating plans.
One of the dangers of a keto diet is when ketone levels reach dangerous levels causing a condition known as ketoacidosis. Essentially, at high levels, the ketones in the blood become poisonous. This condition can develop within a day and must be taken seriously.
It is a rare condition that is unlikely to develop in healthy individuals. The people with a higher risk of developing ketoacidosis are Type 1 diabetics, drug abusers, and people who have suffered from physical or emotional trauma. Stress and surgery patients are also included in the higher-risk group.
It is important to know the early symptoms of this problem if you are on a keto diet. Early symptoms are fruity breath, abdominal pain, nausea, excessive thirst, dry or flushed skin, and an inability to concentrate. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should immediately seek medical attention.
The keto diet burns fat instead of glucose. This shift makes it much easier to lose weight. That fact explains the wide popularity of this diet for people who want to lose weight along with reaping other secondary benefits. As opposed to many trendy “name brand” diets, the ketogenic diet is of a metabolic design and doesn’t require you to buy-in to any particular meal plan. Keep your macro ratio correct and you’re free to eat as you want!