The Beginner's Guide To Ketogenic Diet: Part I
Ketogenic diet is a low-carb, adequate-protein, and high-fat (good fats) diet. Several studies have demonstrated that this diet helps in weight loss and helps maintain overall health.
The ketogenic diet has also been shown to help in conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), fatty liver, diabetes, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s.
What does the ketogenic diet mean?
The key aspect of a ketogenic diet is to replace foods rich in carbohydrates with foods rich in fats.
This may come as a surprise, since fats have been vilified by nutritionists and fitness experts for a long time.
In this article we will discuss the best ways to get started on a ketogenic diet.
Remember that any habit, including a new diet, takes determination and practice until it becomes second nature.
Types of ketogenic diet
Depending on the desired results and nutrition requirements you can choose from different versions of a ketogenic diet. These include:
Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD): This is the typical keto diet. That is, the low-carb, medium-protein, and high-fat type. This is the diet that is recommended for keto beginners.
Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD): This type of keto diet involves intervals of regular-carb days. For example, five days of being on a standard keto diet and two high-carb intervals in between. This type of keto diet is followed by athletes and body-builders.
Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD): This diet permits eating high-carb foods before or after work-outs.
High-protein ketogenic diet: This is the SKD with a higher proportion of protein. The ratio in this version of the keto diet is typically 60% fat, 35% protein, and 5% carbohydrates.
General benefits of a keto diet
The ketogenic diet was originally designed in 1923 by Dr. Russel Wilder to treat epilepsy.
The ketogenic diet has a wide range of benefits:
Studies have shown that a ketogenic diet is more effective for weight loss than the often recommended low-fat diet
Moreover, the fat-rich keto diet is so filling that it does not require any calorie-counting. Some of the reasons why a keto diet works better than a low-fat diet could be increased blood ketone levels, low blood sugar levels, and better insulin sensitivity.
Ketogenic diet has been used to reverse type 2 diabetes.
Obesity and excessive fat are closely associated with type 2 diabetes. The keto diet helps in using up the fat stores, thereby, improving insulin sensitivity. One study showed that this improvement is close to 75%.
Further, individuals with diabetes who are also on a ketogenic diet were able to stop taking diabetes medication.
Body fat, high-density lipoproteins (HDL), cholesterol level, blood sugar level, and blood pressure are all risk factors for heart conditions.
A ketogenic diet helps to improve all those factors, reducing the risk for heart conditions.
A keto diet may help in slowing down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and reduce symptoms. However, more research is needed to prove this association.
Treating epilepsy was the original intent for designing the keto diet. Likewise, the keto diet has been shown to drastically reduce epileptic seizures in children.
The capacity of the ketogenic diet to reduce insulin levels has been shown to play a key role in reversing PCOS.
Since fat is the primary source of fuel for metabolism in a keto diet, the fat deposits from areas including the liver get used up.
Foods to eat in a keto diet
Here is a list of must-have foods if you are serious about starting a ketogenic diet:
- Meat: Red meat, steak, ham, sausage, bacon, chicken and turkey.
- Fatty fish: Salmon, trout, tuna and mackerel.
- Eggs: Omega-3 whole eggs.
- Butter and cream: Preferably grass-fed.
- Cheese: Cheddar, goat, cream, blue or mozzarella
- Nuts and seeds: Almonds, walnuts, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds.
- Healthy oils: Extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, and avocado oil.
- Avocados: Whole avocados
- Low-carb vegetables: Leafy greens, tomatoes, onions, peppers.
- Condiments: Salt, pepper and various healthy herbs and spices.
- Fermented foods: Kefir, sauerkraut, tempeh, miso, kimchi, olives, kombucha, hung yoghurt
Do I need supplements?
The ketogenic diet is wholesome as it is. A glance at the must-have food list in the previous section would give you an idea of how truly healthy and tasty this diet is.
However, you may need some supplements to cover the proteins, minerals, and fat you may miss out due to various dietary restrictions or due to your busy schedule.
Here is a list of keto-friendly supplements to include in the diet:
- C8 oil or MCT oil: Added to coffee, workout smoothies or salads, C8 oil or MCT oil provides energy, helps increase ketone levels, and maintain ketosis.
- Minerals: If you are just beginning this diet adding salt and other minerals can be important to prevent mineral imbalance or dehydration.
- Exogenous ketones: Ketone supplements may help increase the body's ketone levels.
- Creatine: Creatine is easily obtained in meat and provides several benefits for health and exercise performance. This could help if you are combining a ketogenic diet with workouts and if you are a vegetarian or vegan.
- Whey protein: A good protein supplement to complement your keto diet. More so if you do not eat meat.
Are there any side effects?
As with any new habit or diet there are side effects of beginning a keto diet as well.
The most common side effect is keto flu. This usually goes away in a few days.
Individuals who have been on a predominantly carb diet may experience the following symptoms if they are new to keto diet:
- Decreased energy levels
- Lack of focus
- Increased hunger
- Low exercise performance
To tackle keto flu it is recommended that you dont completely deprive yourself of carbs from day one. Phase it out gradually until your system learns how to effectively use fat for energy. Stay hydrated and take mineral supplements.
In A Beginner’s Guide To Keto Diet: Part II we will cover:
- Foods to avoid in a keto diet
- A typical weekly keto diet chart
- And some frequently asked questions