We’re all familiar with weight loss diets. There’s the low-carb diet, the low-fat diet, the Atkins diet, the Ornish diet, the Zone diet, and so on. Each of them focuses on some aspect of weight loss. Each has its own fans and followers. But what if you don’t want to lose weight? Or more precisely, what if you want to lose fat without losing muscle?
A ketogenic diet might be for you. But… another question comes to mind.. Is Keto worth it? Is Keto a good diet? If it’s good for you, should you do it? Are there side effects of keto? How to do Keto?
We’ll answer all these questions in this article, but first let’s talk about what the Ketogenic Diet is and how it works.
What is Keto?
Keto is a diet that is high in fat and low in carbs. Through this diet, the body goes into a state known as ketosis. Ketosis is when your body starts to burn fat at a rapid rate rather than using carbs as its main source of energy. In order for your liver to make ketone bodies you need to deprive yourself of carbohydrates. That’s why it’s extremely important to have a good understanding of what foods are healthy fats, protein, and carbs before starting the keto diet.
The biggest difference between the “ketogenic” and the “Atkins” diet is that during Atkins you still intake small amounts of carbs. On the other hand, on the ketogenic diet your carb intake is severely restricted, which means that instead of burning glucose for fuel, your body will use these ketones from fat stores instead, which leads to weight loss.
Ketogenic diets can also cause massive reductions in blood sugar and insulin levels. This, along with the increased ketones, has numerous health benefits including benefits against diabetes, cancer, epilepsy, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Foods you can eat vs foods you shouldn’t
You can eat all the protein you want, but you should avoid carbohydrate-rich foods.
That means no bread, rice, potatoes, or pasta. You also can’t have any starchy vegetables like peas, corn, carrots, parsnips, and others.
The only carbs allowed on this diet are from nonstarchy vegetables like broccoli and spinach.
You can eat a small amount of low-carb fruits like berries: blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, etc.
For more dinner ideas, check out Delish’s Keto recipes.
The risks of going Keto
At first, a fast fat-burning diet sounds like a dream. But it does come with some side effects and risks. While your body is happily burning fat for energy, you can experience side effects from this process called nutritional ketosis. These symptoms often include headache, nausea, fatigue, and mental fog. They’re caused by the sudden elimination of carbs from your diet and the shift in metabolism to using fat for fuel instead of glucose.
While these symptoms typically disappear within the first few days on a low-carb diet, you may want to ease into it by limiting your daily net carb intake to 20 grams the first week. This will allow your body time to adjust slowly and lessen the chance of unpleasant side effects.
Even though healthy fats are an important part of your ketogenic diet, consuming too much can increase your risk of weight gain and increase triglycerides and LDL (bad) cholesterol in the blood. To keep your consumption in check, try to eat fats from whole foods like nuts, seeds, avocados, and unprocessed oils (olive, coconut). Limit processed food sources like butter, ghee, and fatty cuts of meat as well as products like salad dressing that contain these types of fats.
Other diets you should consider
In practice, the ketogenic diet is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s based on some principles that have been shown to work for some people, but the results will vary, depending on your age and body type. The point is, no single diet works perfectly for everybody. You need to find something that fits your lifestyle.
Your best bet will be a diet that has solid research behind it and that teaches you how to make small changes that add up over time. Choose something you can stick with for at least six months and do not go back to eating everything in sight after the six months are up.
Note: Before going forward with any drastic change in your diet, discuss your plans with your doctor to avoid any potential health issues.
Check out our article on cutting sugar out of your diet.