Health supplements are all the fad now. You are probably bombarded with crowds of different types of supplements from all sides every day in the market. But often, it takes some effort and research to find out what your body needs and more than that, what each abbreviated ingredient expands to. Just the information is not enough either. You certainly need to educate yourself on what they do and how they benefit your health.
But just suppose that you do have an idea of what your body needs. And if it is something that sounds like ‘ketogenic diet’, there are a few things you have heard about. However, if you are still new to the term ‘Ketogenic Diet’, let’s ease into it.
What is the Ketogenic Diet?
Ketogenic diet is basically a low carb diet and it is increasingly being adopted by thousands of people owing to its health benefits including fitness. Under the ketogenic diet, one consumes a high amount of fat, medium quantities of proteins and a low amount of carbohydrates. The goal of this diet is to induce the burning of fat for energy instead of carbohydrates. The outcome is quite great when you stick to it. But how? You need to get the basics right about how energy is used by the body to fully understand how a keto diet works.
The Basics of Energy Consumption
A normal daily diet has a higher portion of carbohydrates. The body is used to taking the easy way out to produce energy in a normal high-carb diet. Carbohydrate is broken down to glucose quite easily and the glucose is taken to the bloodstream by insulin. As easy as it is, Glucose is the favourite energy source of your body and in the presence of glucose, the body uses it first for energy. Now, you have a small picture of why fat remains untouched in your body.
When Carbs are Replaced by Fats
When your intake of carbohydrates is cut down and more fat is introduced to your diet, the metabolism takes a turn. The normal amount of carbohydrates for immediate breakdown and energy release is unavailable. If it seems baffling, let us assure you – it is a turn for the better. Your body is thrown into a metabolic state called ketosis. There, and that’s where the ketogenic diet comes from!
Ketosis is the process by which the body survives starvation. When there’s no food, that is the process your body undergoes – turning to stored fats for energy. When the process is induced, i.e. with a ketogenic diet, you are not actually starving your body. You are just starving your body of carbohydrates
Ketosis takes place when your body starts using fat for energy in the absence of its normal amounts of carbohydrate. The liver gets busy forming ketone bodies from fatty acids for the body to burn. The body under the ketogenic diet is overloaded with fats instead of carbohydrates as the primary fuel. The body adapts to the state of ketosis or gets ‘keto-adaptive’ quite dramatically. This renders it highly efficient in burning fat. (Do you hear echoes of ‘fitness goals’?)
Ketogenic Diet – Classification
When the changes a ketogenic diet can bring to your body sounds awesome and just the right thing you have been waiting to start, don’t jump into it yet and haul keto diet products. It would be unwise if you are not well versed with what your body truly needs and which type of Keto Diet is appropriate for you. Because, there are three types of ketogenic diets, appropriate as per the intake of carbohydrates.
We’ll break it down for you.
- The Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD):
This is the most recommended type of ketogenic diet as well most commonly used. The total carb intake per day is kept within 20-50 grams with a dash of moderate amounts of protein and topped with a high fat consumption.
- Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD):
This type of ketogenic diet allows within 25-50 grams of total carbs. Alternately, lesser than that amount can be consumed about 30 to 60 minutes before exercise.
- Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD):
This involves a break in the regular ketogenic diets where you are on a low-carb, ketogenic diet for many days interrupted by a few days of high-carb intake.
An additional type of keto diet is the High-Protein Ketogenic Diet, which is very much like SKD, with extra amounts of protein.
Is Ketogenic Diet Merely Any Low-Carb Diet?
To think that would endanger your keto-diet goals. Not all low-carb diets are ketogenic. Ketogenic diet has set levels of carbohydrate intake and variations in this is highly prone in just any low-carb diet. A low-carb diet is often not enough to induce ketosis. Plus, there is more chance for followers of an unsystematic low carb diet to go on a detour eventually and end up having more carbohydrates than allowed for ketosis to occur.
The Right Way to Keto
A common error that happens in those who mix up some low-carb diets with keto diets is loading up on protein. Other low carb diets recommend high protein whereas standard ketogenic diet recommends a moderate intake of protein. Protein intake should be limited just enough amount to maintain the muscle mass. Not more.
The body can break down protein to produce glucose through the process of gluconeogenesis. So, high protein amounts can also raise your blood sugar levels and consequently, the insulin levels. High insulin levels hinder the ketone production.
Meanwhile, fats are saviors, contrary to common belief. Fats have almost no effect on your blood sugar levels and insulin levels. The availability of fats for fuel also protects the muscle mass by not pushing the body to leach out proteins for fuel. This is important to maintain a lean and healthy body.
The general ranges for each macronutrient, i.e. fats, proteins and carbohydrates in a ketogenic diet can be broken down as follows:
- Calories from fat: 70-80%
- Calories from protein: 20-25%
- Calories from carbs: 5-10%
The ranges can slightly vary as per the requirements of each person.
- Carbohydrate Consumption:
In most cases, the amount of carbs taken is limited to 20 to 50 grams. The number can go higher in some persons as each one’s body is different and goes into ketosis at different rates.
- Protein Consumption:
The protein requirement of your body while in keto diet has to be determined by some factors. The factors to consider are:
- Ideal body weight
- Lean body mass
- Activity (sedentary, moderate or high)
The ideal amount of protein that can be consumed in order to maintain ketosis is not more than 1.5 to 2 grams per kilogram of lean body mass. This will prevent the breakdown of protein for glucose and facilitate ketosis.
- Fat Consumption:
Finally, after determining your carb and protein requirements, the remaining calories have to be filled in by fats. The type of fat eaten is crucial in a ketogenic diet. Consuming a lot of oils which are rich in Omega-6 fatty acids will be inflammatory in large amounts. The ideal fat sources are those rich in monounsaturated and saturated fats whereas polyunsaturated fats are not preferred. The following is a list of commonly preferred fat sources:
- Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT Oils) / Coconut Oil
- Olive Oils
- Butter (preferably from grass-fed cows)
- High Oleic Sunflower Oil or Safflower Oil
- Dairy Products including Full-Fat Cheese
- Vegan fats like Avocado
What and What Not to Eat
|Meats||Beans and Legumes (like kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils, green peas and black peas)|
|Fats & Oils including Nuts and Seeds (as whole or as butters), Oils like Olive Oil, Sesame Oil, High Oleic Sunflower & Safflower Oil, Grass-fed butters, ghee||Grains (whole grains, breads, pastas) and Starch-rich tubers like potatoes, carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes|
|Eggs||Fruits (except little amounts of berries)|
|Dairy like cheeses, yogurt, sour creams, heavy creams||Unhealthy oils (Mayonnaise, Processed vegetable oils)|
|Low-carb vegetables (spinach, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, kale, broccoli, onions and peppers||Packaged and Processed Low fat diet products|
|Low-sugar fruits (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, avocados) in small amounts||High sugar foods (smoothies, cakes, cookies, candies, soda, fruit juices, icecreams)|
|Herbs and Spices without added sugars||Alcohol, Artificial Sweeteners and Condiments with added sugars and unhealthy oils|
Benefits of A Ketogenic Diet
Recent findings and resultant diet recommendations advocate low-carb diets for long term health. Low-carb diets are the most ideal for weight loss, fitness regimens and prevention and control of lifestyle diseases like Diabetes, Hyperlipidemia, Hypertension and many others.
As a low-carb diet, ketogenic diet is an ideal choice for those who are trying hard to get to their fitness goals and maintain their health without going hungry or losing vigor.
In quick points, a ketogenic diet might also benefit you in the following ways:
- Regulating blood sugar levels and improving insulin resistance, in turn preventing or eliminating Diabetes, type I and type II.
- Improving HDL cholesterol and triglycerides and reducing LDL cholesterol (responsible for arterial plaques), consequently reducing the risk factors for cardiac diseases.
- Reduction in skin inflammation and lesions, helping in acne control
- Controlled appetite and lesser cravings since fat is heavier and slowly digested, keeping you feel fuller for longer time.
- Effective in epilepsy for preventing seizures, especially in children.
A Few Predictable, Manageable Side Effects
Every metabolic change to the human body undergoes a short transition period during which the body is adapting to the new habits. You will probably experience one or more of the following mild side effects when you start on a keto diet. However, they are short-term side effects and not life-threatening or unmanageable and not everlasting.
- Foggy mind
- Weakness and Fatigue
- Flu-like symptoms
The sudden unavailability of the usual amount of carbohydrates and easy glucose is the cause of the above symptoms and they last only for as long as your body is adapting to the low-carb consumption.
Further, low-carb intake also results in dehydration (loss of water), so these side effects are fairly manageable by increasing the intake of water and salts since it will help replenish and retain fluid.
Instead of sudden drop to low-carb ketogenic diet, you can also taper the reduction of carb intake, decreasing it gradually overtime, until ketosis is attained. This will minimize the chance for the side effects from low carb diet in case your body takes longer than usual to adapt to the low-carb intake.
Ketosis and Ketoacidosis – One and the Same?
Ketosis is a normal survival process of the body in the unavailability of carbohydrate ready to be broken down to glucose.
It is a beneficial process that can be induced by a careful charted diet providing an alternative source of energy in the form of fat to the body instead of carbohydrate with moderate amounts of protein. Its benefits weigh out a lot of your health problems.
Whereas, Ketoacidosis is life-threatening.
Ketoacidosis is seen mostly in diabetics who run on deficient insulin, or is under injury or illness, or just don’t take enough fluids. Ketoacidosis can also occur in alcoholics, hyperthyroid individuals or in actual starvation. In ketoacidosis, the ketones in blood are so high that the blood is rendered highly acidic. This is fatal if untreated.
Ketosis that happens under a safe, well-managed ketogenic diet has only a safe amount of ketones in the bloodstream, that doesn’t push the body into ketoacidosis.
Monitoring Ketones Under a Ketogenic Diet
It is always good to know that everything is under control. While on a ketogenic diet, keep a check of your ketone levels. This can be done at home.
Ketone levels can be measured in your blood, urine or breath. Checking blood ketone levels is the most accurate way to monitor ketone levels while urine testing of ketones may be less accurate although most affordable for starters. A breathe meter can also give an approximate reading of ketones present in the exhaled breath.
Making the Ketogenic Diet Easy
While the breakdown of macronutrients in a ketogenic diet sounds ideal for fat and oil lovers, the whole plan could go wrong with some wrong choices. The amounts of carbohydrates, proteins and fats to be consumed have already been discussed. Where many new followers of this sacred diet could go wrong is in the type of fat they choose to eat.
Yes, indeed, the type of fat eaten matters!
It could become a hassle to find the right fats, make sure the lists don’t go wrong and measure how much you eat. That’s where we can help you more. That is, doing more than just educating you about ketogenic diets.
The right tools are necessary to get any work done. In case of diets, that’s where supplements come up.
We are going to say two words that you may have heard by now since you have read this far into the basics of ketogenic diet. But then, they might sound new to you as well, if you learned about ketogenic diets just earlier today.
Let’s talk a little about MCT Oil Powders and BHB Salts. Do not get baffled yet. They are totally natural and simple stuffs.