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Understanding the Keto Diet: A complete guide to the Ketogenic Diet

Dr. Rashmi ByakodiOct 14, 2022

The Ketogenic Diet (Keto Diet) is a regime that emphasises high-fat and low-carbohydrate foods. It is a diet plan in which your body starts using energy from burning fats instead of carbohydrates, a condition known as ketosis. If the Keto Diet is followed correctly, it can result in quick weight loss, can help get relief from diabetes, cancer, epilepsy, and Alzheimer’s disease and improve overall well-being.

If you want to adopt the Keto Diet for quick results in weight loss, it is essential to know whether or not this plan is good for you. This article will take you through the benefits, drawbacks, and what exactly this diet plan entails.

Understanding the Keto Diet

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What is a Keto Diet?

A Keto Diet focuses on consuming a considerably low amount of carbs and replacing it with a high amount of fat. This substantial reduction in carbohydrates leads to a metabolic condition called ketosis. 

In this process, your body starts burning fats, and the fats convert into ketones in the liver. These ketones provide energy to the brain. The most successful strategy to induce ketosis is to adopt a Ketogenic Diet.

It includes restricting the carbohydrate intake to 20 to 50 grams in a 2000 kcal diet per day and consuming fat-based foods such as fish, meat, nuts, and healthy oils. Moreover, the protein intake should also be kept in moderate amounts.

Types of Ketogenic Diet

When you plan to start a Keto plan, you must be aware of the different types of different Ketogenic Diets mentioned below. 

  • Standard Keto-Diet (SKD): This includes a very low carb, high fat, and moderate protein diet. It normally consists of 10% carb, 20% protein, and 70% fat.

  • High Protein Keto-Diet: This is similar to SKD but contains more protein. It has 5% carbs, 35% protein, and 60% fats.

  • Cyclical Keto-Diet (CKD): This diet includes five days of keto and two days of high carb.

  • Targeted Keto-Diet (TKD): This diet permits you to add additional carbohydrates with rigorous workouts.

While normal people adopt the standard and high protein Ketogenic Diets, cyclical and targeted Ketogenic Diets are more advanced and are followed by athletes and bodybuilders.

Benefits of Ketogenic Diet

The benefits of following a Keto Diet are explained below.

1. Aids in weight loss 

A Ketogenic Diet is a successful way of losing weight quickly. In a normal diet, your body derives energy by burning carbohydrates. But in a Keto Diet, when you limit carbohydrates, your body starts to burn fats to derive energy. This leads to losing body fats very quickly. Additionally, the Keto Diet being high in fats, eliminates food cravings and feelings of hunger.

2. Helps improve insulin sensitivity 

A person suffering from diabetes has insufficient insulin, which makes it tough for the body to utilise carbohydrates. As a result, the blood sugar level rises. Studies have found that the Ketogenic Diet improves insulin sensitivity by 75% and helps in lowering the blood sugar level significantly.

People having type 2 diabetes must restrict the consumption of carbohydrates because it converts to sugar and may raise their blood sugar level. The Keto Diet helps minimise the consumption of carbohydrates and to curb the abrupt rise in blood glucose.

According to the National Library of Medicine, women with type 2 diabetes following Ketogenic Diet for 90 days experienced a drastic reduction in the HbA1C level.

3. Helps prevent heart disease

The Ketogenic Diet helps reduce inflammation and lowers oxidative stress, and thus, risk factors of cardiac disease can be prevented. The Keto Diet helps to reduce body fat, blood pressure, blood sugar and elevates HDL cholesterol levels.

4. Helps prevent cancer 

A Keto Diet is helpful in slowing tumour growth by reducing the energy supply to the cancerous cells and thus may prevent cancer.

5. Alzheimer’s disease

Keto Diet may help prevent the symptoms of Alzheimer’s by slowing its development; because ketone has a neuroprotective influence on the ageing brain cells. Ketone may boost mitochondrial function and may reduce the apoptotic and inflammatory mediators and thus help in preventing neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.

6. Epilepsy

The Ketogenic Diet has been believed to reduce epilepsy attacks since the 1920s. It has been found that Ketogenic Diet has a significantly positive effect on patients having refractory epilepsy in adults and children. The low sugar and high-fat content of the Keto Diet uniquely alter the brain’s excitability and thereby reduces the tendency of seizures.

Disadvantages of Ketogenic Diet

Along with the potential health benefits, the Keto Diet has some disadvantages which you should know. They may include the following. Thus, please consult a doctor before making any significant modifications to your diet. 

1. It may cause Keto Flu

Limiting the carb intake to 50 grams per day may jostle your body. Since in a Keto Diet, your body reduces its carb stores and shifts to fats and ketones for energy, you may face flu-like symptoms at the start of the diet. These include fatigue, dizziness, headaches, nausea, and constipation. 

As your body adapts to ketosis, your body may experience electrolyte imbalance and dehydration. Since ketosis causes dehydration, it means there is a loss of electrolytes too. Once you are on a Keto Diet, it is important to drink enough water along with maintaining the levels of electrolytes.

2. Stress on kidneys

Consuming high-fat animal foods like meat, eggs, and cheese in a high amount may lead to kidney stones. It is because a higher intake of animal fat may cause your urine and blood to become more acidic, which leads to increased calcium excretion in your urine.

As per the National Library of Medicine, the Keto Diet decreases the citrate amount that is released in urine. Since citrate has the ability to bind calcium and helps to prevent kidney stones, reduced levels of citrate may promote the risk of developing it.

3. May lead to digestive issues

Even though they might be high in carbohydrates, some starchy vegetables, whole grains, and high-carb fruits are rich sources of fibre also. Fibre nourishes beneficial bacteria in the gut. A healthy gut helps improve immunity and mental health and reduces inflammation. Limiting carbohydrates from the diet may cause difficulty in meeting daily fibre needs. As a result, the Keto Diet may trigger digestive issues and constipation.

4. Nutrient deficiency

The Keto Diet fails to provide the required amount of nutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals because it restricts foodstuffs like starchy vegetables, whole grains, fruits, legumes, and dairy products. Additionally, Keto Diet does not provide sufficient vitamin D, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium. Hence, people following the Keto Diet may encounter nutrient deficiency.

5. May cause Hypoglycemia

Since Ketogenic Diets are low in carbs, the blood sugar levels go down naturally. When it gets too low, the body instructs the liver to release glucose to meet the daily needs. If you have been on a Keto Diet for a long time, your liver may not be able to release glucose, leading to Hypoglycemia.

6. May affect bone health

When the body enters ketosis, it decreases bone strength and loses bone mineral density, leading to impaired bone health.

Foods to avoid in Keto Diet

Below is the list of foods that may be eliminated from the diet list if you are on a Keto Diet. 

  • Sugary foods such as ice creams, candy, cake, smoothies, fruit juice, etc.

  • Starchy foods such as wheat-based products, cereals, rice, pasta, etc.

  • All fruits except some strawberries

  • Chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, etc.

  • Root vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots, potatoes, radish, beetroots, etc.

  • Mayonnaise, salad dressings, ketchup, barbecue sauce, etc.

  • Alcohol and sugary drinks

Foods to be included in Keto Diet

Here are the foods you should include in a Keto Diet.

  • Red meat, chicken, turkey, ham, etc.

  • Fatty fish and eggs

  • Unprocessed cheese like mozzarella, cheddar

  • Seeds and nuts such as walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, cashew, sunflower seeds, etc.

  • Extra virgin olive oil and avocado oil

  • Avocados

  • Green vegetables, onions, tomatoes, peppers, etc.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the answers to some common queries associated with the Keto Diet.

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Can I eat carbs while on a Keto Diet?

The ketogenic diet typically limits carbohydrate consumption to 50 grams per day. Consuming more carbs than that will kick you out of ketosis.

How much protein can I eat?

The standard ketogenic diet is made up of roughly 70-80% fat daily calories, 5-10% carbohydrate, and 10-20% protein. The average person should aim for about 1.6 g of protein per kg of body weight. 

Who should not do keto?

People with kidney disease, heart disease risk factors, pregnant or nursing women, and those who've had their gallbladders removed should avoid the ketogenic diet.

Is keto a healthy diet?

While the ketogenic diet can help control seizures in some people with epilepsy, the high-fat content, as well as limited intake of nutrient-rich fruits, veggies, and grains, may become a problem if followed for too long.

Sources:

Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. It is based on several secondary sources on the internet. As this content piece is not vetted by a medical professional, please consult a doctor before making any health-related decisions.

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