A Ketogenic Way of Eating to Lose Weight and Fight Disease
Obesity and metabolic diseases have become the world’s biggest health problems.
In fact, at least 2.8 million adults die from obesity-related causes each year (1).
To combat this, many diets have emerged, few of which are actually backed by research (5).
What is a Ketogenic Diet?
As carbs are reduced and fat is increased, the body enters a metabolic state called ketosis. Then the body starts turning fats into ketones, which are molecules that can supply energy for the brain (9, 10).
After a few days or weeks on such a diet, the body and brain become very efficient at burning fat and ketones for fuel instead of carbs.
BOTTOM LINE: A ketogenic diet is a high-fat, moderate-protein and low-carb diet. It primarily works by lowering insulin levels, producing ketones and increasing fat burning.
The Mechanisms Behind The Effects on Metabolic Disease
There are several key factors that explain the drastic effects of the ketogenic diet on markers of metabolic disease. These include:
- Less carbs:A high-carb diet can constantly elevate blood sugar and insulin levels, which can lead to poor cell function and damage over time (36).
- Decreased insulin resistance:Insulin resistance can cause health issues like inflammation, high triglyceride levels and fat gain (42).
- Healthy fats:The additional healthy fats you eat while on a ketogenic diet can help improve “good” HDL cholesterol levels (43).
- Ketone bodies:Ketone bodies have some surprising benefits for health, including diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s and epilepsy (44, 45, 46).
- Inflammation:The ketogenic diet can drastically reduce chronic inflammation, which is linked to metabolic syndrome and various diseases (46, 47, 48, 49).
- Fat loss:This diet promotes the loss of body fat, especially unhealthy abdominal fat. Excess fat in the abdominal area is disastrous for metabolic health (50).
As you can see, the combination of these factors plays a rather remarkable and important role in health and protection against disease.
BOTTOM LINE: Ketogenic diets may improve metabolic health by improving insulin function, lowering inflammation and promoting fat loss, among others.
How to Follow a Ketogenic Diet
If you want to try a ketogenic diet, follow these basic rules:
- Eliminate carbs:Check food labels, and aim for 30 grams of carbs or less per day.
- Stock up on staples:Buy meat, cheese, whole eggs, nuts, oils, avocados, oily fish and cream, as these are now staples in your diet.
- Eat your veggies:Fat sources are high in calories, so base each meal on low-carb veggies to fill your plate and help keep you feeling full.
- Experiment:A ketogenic diet can still be interesting and tasty. You can even make ketogenic pasta, bread, muffins, brownies, puddings, ice cream, etc.
- Build a plan:It can be hard to find low-carb meals for when you’re on the go. As with any diet, it is important to have a plan and go-to snacks or meals.
- Find what you love:Experiment until you find the ultimate keto diet for you.
- Track progress:Take photos, measurements and monitor your weight every 3 to 4 weeks. If progress stops, try reducing portion sizes slightly.
- Replace minerals:Ketosis changes your fluid and mineral balance. For this reason, salt your food and maybe take electrolytes like potassium and magnesium.
- Try supplements:To boost the ketogenic process, you can take ketone salt supplements, like Perfect Keto, MCT oil (5–10 grams twice a day) or use coconut oil
- Be consistent:There is no shortcut to success. With any diet, consistency is the most important factor.
Should You Try a Ketogenic Diet?
No single diet is suitable for everyone, especially since individual metabolism, genes, body types, lifestyles, taste buds and personal preferences differ.
However, the ketogenic diet can work wonders for people who are overweight or at risk of metabolic syndrome.
Nevertheless, if you dislike high-fat foods but love carbs, this diet may be hard for you to stick to. If you still like the idea of a low-carb diet, then carb cycling or a standard low-carb diet may be better options for you.
Ketogenic diets may also be used in the short-term, to help you lose fat and improve health. Yet this requires a lot of discipline, and must be followed with healthy eating.
A ketogenic diet may also not be the best option for elite athletes or those wishing to build large amounts of muscle. Vegetarians or vegans may also struggle with this diet, due to the key role played by meats, eggs, fish and dairy.
Additionally, the transition to a ketogenic diet can occasionally cause negative symptoms that are often referred to as “keto flu.”
While this only happens rarely, it may cause some people to quit before they even get started properly, especially as the first few weeks of any diet are the toughest.
Due to the very limited carb intake — less than 50 grams per day — ketogenic diets also may not be suitable for people who want to take the weekend off.