Is the Ketogenic Diet Right For You?
Most people strive for a healthy and happy life. For many, losing weight is a challenge they face because they want to look and feel better. There are so many options for diet plans that are available, it is often difficult to decide which one is best for you. One, in particular, called the Ketogenic (Keto) Diet, has become very popular lately. Keep reading to learn more about the Keto diet so you can decide whether or not the Ketogenic Diet right for you?
There is a buzz around the term Ketogenic diet but it isn’t actually new. Its recent popularity is because of the many celebrities like LeBron James, Tim McGraw, and Halle Berry who have chosen to lose weight following this very specific diet.
The Ketogenic diet has been used to treat epilepsy since the 1920s. It is a high-fat, low carbohydrate, and controlled protein diet that is only used for these patients when other medications have been tried but have not worked.
How Does it Work?
The diet works by using fats as the energy source instead of carbohydrates. Primary sources of nutrition on this diet are eggs, oils, fish, dairy, meat, and green vegetables. The idea behind Keto is to literally change the way the body turns food into energy. Normally, our bodies break down carbohydrates that serve as your primary source of energy. If there are no carbohydrates to break down, your body will look for other forms of energy thus putting your body into a state called Ketosis. When in Ketosis, your body uses stored fat as energy instead of glucose. Measuring the level of ketones in your body with ketogenic strips will let you know if you are in ketosis or not.
Is Ketosis Dangerous?
When done correctly and carefully, ketosis is not dangerous for most people. Ketosis is actually part of your body’s normal metabolic system. The body looks for carbohydrates from what you eat to use for energy. If it can’t find them because you aren’t eating carbs, it will burn your fat instead. Making ketones is part of the process. Under normal circumstances for those who are eating a well-balanced and non-restrictive diet, there is no need for your body to make ketones. When you are on the Keto diet, your body will create the ketones and use them for energy. This diet has been found to be safe for healthy people as long as they keep a check on their ketone levels. Pregnant women and people with diabetes are not good candidates for the Keto diet as ketosis can be a sign that your body is not using enough insulin.
According to WebMD, “Ketoacidosis is what happens when ketosis goes too far. Ketones build up in your blood, and it becomes acidic. Ketoacidosis can cause a coma or death.” Even people who are not diabetic can get ketoacidosis from starvation, alcoholism, or an overactive thyroid. It is for this reason, that you must test your ketone levels on a regular basis with ketogenic strips. If you develop any of the following symptoms, you should call your doctor:
- Having trouble breathing
- Overly flushed or dry skin
- Unusual dry mouth or thirstiness
- Pains in your stomach
What Can You Eat?
In general, you want to get between 75 and 80 percent of your calories from fat, moderate levels of protein, and very little, if any, carbs. Oils, butter, mayonnaise, meats, leafy green vegetables, nuts and seeds, other vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower, berries, and avocados are foods you can eat.
What You Can’t Eat
Basically, you want to avoid carbohydrates. This includes bread, pasta, sugar, and grains. This means no cereal, corn, wheat, rice, oranges, apples, bananas, potatoes, honey, or maple syrup. You also need to avoid what in other situations are considered healthy foods like root vegetables, fruits, and legumes. If you want to stay in ketosis, you shouldn’t drink alcohol either.
Advantages and Disadvantages
The Keto diet has been shown to promote weight loss and lower blood sugar. There have been studies that show a slowing of the progression of Alzheimer’s by protecting the brain. However, the research is still being conducted and results are not at this point, conclusive or definitive.
Because the Keto diet is very restrictive, some people find it difficult to stay on it and stick to the plan. If something is difficult to do, many people don’t do it. Another disadvantage for some is the brain fog, nausea, and fatigue you might experience in the first few weeks of being on the Keto diet.
The bottom line is that the Ketogenic diet can really help some people lose weight. With the proper knowledge, you will be able to decide if you are one of those people.