In recent times, fitness and health experts and enthusiasts have engaged in a global discourse on creative ways to reach fitness and weight loss goals. One diet plan you might have heard of is the keto diet which is short for the Ketogenic Diet. So, what exactly is a keto diet, and what are the benefits?
In this article, we will dive into all you need to know about the popular keto diet and share ways it can be adapted to suit you.
What is a keto diet?
The term “Ketogenic diet” refers to a diet plan that is significantly low in carbohydrates but high in fat and protein. In this diet, calories will be provided from fats and proteins in the absence of carbs. The effect of this is that the body is then forced to burn excess fat in the body rather than carbohydrates which are easier for the body to break down. This then leads to weight loss through a process called ketosis.
Typically, the macronutrient breakdown of the keto diet constitutes 70% of the body’s calorie supply coming from fat, 25% from proteins, and 5% from carbs. Keto diets came to light in the early 1900s and were used in medical practice as a form of therapy to treat epilepsy in children.
What are the benefits of a keto diet?
The main reason why keto diet plans have gone mainstream especially in recent years is because of its weight loss benefits. This diet is known to show weight loss results within the first three to six months, this is quite impressive compared to alternative weight loss techniques.
While weight loss is the most popular benefit of the keto diet, there are quite a few other benefits that the keto diet offers. The Keto diet helps the body to reduce insulin levels and this is helpful in the prevention of diseases like cancer, acne, and heart conditions. Other diseases that this diet can help prevent are diabetes, nervous system disorders, and epilepsy.
What are the benefits of fasting?
Fasting is defined as abstinence from food and drinks over some time. There are several types of fasting, the keto diet itself is a form of fasting from carbs. Fasting has a variety of health benefits which is why it is so widely practiced.
Research has shown that fasting can help with speeding up weight loss as the body burns excess body fat due to the absence of food to produce energy for the body. Fasting also boosts brain function through the increased production of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Other health benefits of fasting include faster metabolism, prevention of inflammation, improved heart health, improved immune system, healthier skin, aided growth, and cancer prevention.
What are some variations of the keto diet?
There are a variety of keto plans adopted by people depending on their preference and goals. Here are three of the most common keto diet variations:
- The Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD)
This variation of the keto diet is high in fat, moderate in protein, and low in carbs with a macronutrient ratio of 75% fat,15-20% protein, and 5-10% carbs. It has gained popularity over time and is one of the most common keto variations out there. It is preferred by so many because you can eat as much as you want without worrying so much about calories. Meals in this plan are centered around fatty foods such as olives, ghee, fish, meats, and avocados. In the Standard Ketogenic Diet, you may have meals three times a day, however, you will have to stick to the macronutrient ratio. Some side effects of this diet include dehydration and fatigue, this will only last for the first one to two weeks into the diet.
- The Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD)
Here, you cycle in and out of ketosis through a method called keto cycling. This helps maintain a more balanced diet by having one or two days in the week where you can eat clean carbs. The macronutrient ratio is made up of 75% of fats, 15-20% of proteins, 5-10% of carbs during keto days, and 25% of fats, 25% of proteins, and 50% of carbs during your off days. This plan is usually effective for people who also work out. A potential drawback to this variation is that the body will not always be fully in ketosis due to the presence of carbs in the body on your days off which is why it is important to also work out often if you choose to use this plan.
- The Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD)
The Targeted Ketogenic Diet adopts a macronutrient ratio of 65-70% of fats, 20% of proteins, and 10-15% of carbs. Here, a process called nutrient timing is utilized, what this means is that carbs are eaten before and after a workout to improve performance and recovery, these carbs are burned during the workout. For this reason, this diet is very common with athletes. The cumulative daily carb count is usually around 70-80 grams from clean carbs such as fruits and dairy products. A challenge faced in this diet is that it may constitute a threat to your ketosis process if not done properly.
How can a modified keto diet help you get healthy?
For a lot of people, the traditional keto diet can be a bit challenging, especially with regards to the drawbacks in energy levels and adequate nutrient intake. The introduction of modified keto diets like the examples discussed above has proven helpful in solving some of these challenges. Consuming carbs that are not highly and ultra processed provides the body with a variety of nutrients and is a healthy source of energy. Modified keto diets also help with weight loss, improved appetite control, and decreasing triglyceride levels in the body.
In conclusion, the ketogenic diet is a great way to begin your weight loss journey. It is a great technique to introduce into your diet, and with the many variations available, the keto diet can be customized to suit your individual needs, making it an amazing and flexible weight-loss option.