With quarantine being extremely prevalent all around the world since last year, the prohibitions of working out have become less accessible to us than ever. With indulgent food available at every corner, the need to be disciplined and maintain healthy living is a daunting hurdle, but one that is achievable with the right mindset. Ketogenic diets have become quite the fad in the fitness community in the 2010s and have proven to be a diet that shows results, but is it truly the best? Here’s a deeper look into Ketogenic Diet (or Keto) and its benefits and risks.
What Is The Keto Diet?
To put it simply, it’s low carbs and high fat. There are certain similarities to the Atkins diet which antagonizes certain types of carbohydrates, but Keto takes a closer look at choosing the fat you take and how it can ironically help with fat loss. Fat, like carbohydrates, is an energy source and uses fatty acids to metabolize over the more common glucose.
Despite being praised by practitioners all over the world, the diet isn’t considered the most natural method as it reduces the food source that is taught to require the most intake by people - that being carbohydrates. While there are many benefits that come with the upkeep of this diet, there are also drawbacks for the ill-prepared.
Food Sources of Keto Diet
According to an article from Harvard Health, if one were to choose a 2,000 calorie diet, 165g of it would be on fat while only a measly 40g of carbohydrates is recommended. Protein intake was somewhere in the middle, at 75g. Primary sources of “healthy” fat come from almonds, walnuts, seeds, avocado, tofu, and olive oil.
Butter and lard are also on the tables despite other diets urging to minimize the intake. The ingredients listed are purely natural and should still be the focus, rather than turning to unhealthy sources of fat like fried food and fatty sauces. It is still going to be an obstacle to start this diet, but restraint is universal for any method and is definitely worth a try for at least a month.
Protein sources aren’t nearly as prevalent as fat, however common ingredients include beef and chicken. Strangely enough, fruits and vegetables can be consumed, but only in very small quantities as they too possess enough carbs to break the maximum allowance. Certain greens to opt for in a keto-friendly meal include broccoli, Brussels, celery, asparagus, bell peppers, onions, garlic, and mushrooms.
There are many things you can do with the keto diet, as long as sugary drinks, and fried foods are not consumed at all. While the body will take some time to get used to this change, overcoming the first week usually is where things start to get easier.
Benefits of Keto Diet
Getting obvious out of the way, weight loss is the primary reason why many people have embarked on the Keto journey. By limiting the number of carbohydrates, the body is put into a position called ketosis where the body taps into its fat reserves to metabolize. It is a rather neat way to condition the body and can make for an effective weight loss program if regular exercise goes in conjunction with it.
Improves the Skin
A surplus of glucose and over time, sugar is generally the cause of bad outbreaks on the skin. With the Keto diet, the body has the bare minimum amount of glucose at all times as fatty acids are more prevalent. As a result, you are starving the body of bacteria that are directly responsible for bad skin. To a certain extent, this also goes beyond mere pimples and decreases the chances of aging and even dandruff. While this isn’t at the forefront of keto’s benefits, this perk is a good bonus to have.
Can Reduce Seizures
A pretty random benefit from partaking in the keto diet, but welcomed nonetheless. The Epilepsy Foundation has indicated that the process of ketosis minimizes the risks of seizures by those who have the epilepsy condition. While some research has substantiated this claim, more study is required to cement this particular benefit.
Protects the Brain
Ketones, the compounds involved with this diet, have been shown to strengthen the actual nerve cells within the brain. By doing so, it can minimize the surfacing of neural conditions such as Alzheimer's, brain damage, and more. This benefit is certainly one for the long haul, and one must be committed to going keto for a while before such a risk is minimized.
Risks of the Keto Diet
The shock your body goes through during the process of ketosis may not be for everyone. As you get used to functioning with significantly fewer carbohydrates, your body may begin to experience flu-like symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness, and constipation. Your body will need to readjust its electrolyte imbalance, but it is something that can be healed with time and rest.
The strain on the Kidneys
High-fat ingredients such as meat and dairy products can cause the blood to become significantly more acidic, which leads to more secretion of calcium in your urine. The problem with that is that this process will result in kidney stones being built if your abstinence from carbohydrates becomes too extreme. Thankfully this will happen after a while, and milder symptoms will surface first so that you can make the necessary adjustments in your eating habits.
Low Blood Sugar
Since we have established that sugar and carbohydrates are bound by glucose metabolism, a dramatic reduction of the latter nutrient will result in low average blood sugar levels. This usually will lead to Type 1 diabetes which can be fatal if not addressed with urgency. While this is only an increase of risk, it still doesn’t hurt to be too careful.
Ezra Gideon, UNB & Dhaka Courier Correspondent in Singapore.