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Ultimate Guide Keto Diet: Benefits, Side Effects, Risks and FAQS

what is keto diet and keto diet benefits

Introduction

Keto diet is an eating plan that is based on lots of healthful fats, a moderate amount of proteins, and very low carbohydrates. In this diet plan, the body burns fats for energy rather than carbs.  

The Keto diet limits the carbs intake up to 20 to 50 grams per day which means the macronutrient percentage will be 55-60 % fats, 30- 35 % protein, and 5-10 % carbs. 

Carbohydrates are the main source of energy that turns into glucose and meet the energy requirements of the body and brain. By getting into the keto diet your body will not get enough carbohydrates and start consuming the fat reserves for energy. These fats will break into fatty acids and ketone bodies. 

How it works

Your body enters Ketosis due to lots of ketone bodies, a metabolic state when you are in the keto diet. During the ketosis state of your body is using ketone bodies for energy rather than glucose. Ketones are a much more stable and continuous source of energy rather than glucose.

The liver plays a primary role in producing ketones from stored fats and fats to take in food. These ketones serve as a fuel source throughout the body, especially for the brain and other parts of the body. The brain needs lots of energy; it can run only on glucose or ketones but not on the fat only.

When you are on a keto diet, your body switches its energy supply to run mostly on fat thereby burning the fat during day and night. When the level of insulin becomes very low, fat burning can increase drastically. It becomes easier to access your fat stores to burn them off.

At least 3 days to a week are usually required in entering a ketosis state that encompasses the fat you eat and fat stored in the body.

Who uses it?

People follow the keto diet to achieve fitness goals to reduce weight. There are some medical conditions to be treated by ketoses like epilepsy, heart disease, and brain diseases but there needs to be more research about it.

 

Types of Keto diet

There are following different types of the keto diet 

  • Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD)

This diet contains very low carbs, moderate protein, and high fat. It consists of 10 % carbs, 20 % protein, and 70 % fats. It is good to lose weight. 

  • Cyclic Ketogenic Diet (CKD)

This diet is based on a period of high carb in between low carbs days. This diet plan is used by athletes to take high carbs to refill glycogen lost during a workout.

  • Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD)

Similar to the standard Ketogenic diet it is permitted to add carbs before or after an intensive workout.

  • High-Protein Ketogenic Diet (HPKD)

This diet plan is based on more proteins up to 35 %, 60% fats, and 5% carbs. These all types of ketosis have different benefits but only standard and high-protein diets are backed by extensive research. The other two types are advanced forms.

Keto Diet Benefits

Many studies (1) conducted through different institutions consistently shows that those who eat a low carb, high fat diet rather than a high carb, low-fat diet experience following

Treat Epilepsy

In 1924 Ketogenic diet was proposed to treat epilepsy. The Epilepsy Foundation recommends that ketosis may help to reduce seizures especially in children who have focal seizures. 

Weight Loss

  • The major advantage is losing weight and body fat. As per some studies, a Ketogenic diet that loses more weight in the first 3-6 months is more effective for long-term weight loss rather than a low-fat diet plan. 

During Ketosis the body burns fats more significantly by dropping insulin level (Fat storing hormone) and increasing metabolism which helps to reduce weight and control obesity.

Control Appetite

Keto diet is great if your major concern is losing weight, but it does have other less evident benefits like less hunger, a balanced supply of energy, and could help you to keep alert and focused.

By getting into ketosis you will experience a decrease in appetite which eventually helps your weight loss but also keeps you satisfied after meals much longer, with less snacking and overeating. It also makes it easier to follow intermittent fasting as some people feel the need to eat twice or some even prefer to take one meal per day still have consistent energy levels during the day

Reduce Acne

Acne is caused by several reasons and may have been linked to blood sugar in some individuals. Taking a high amount of processed food may disturb the balance of gut bacteria and may increase insulin that may cause an acne breakout. Still, more research is required to find the exact impact on acne. 

Type 2 Diabetes

As per research published in the Journal of Obesity & Eating Disorders Keto diet is good for Type 2 diabetes and can improve the level of HbA1c. It is very beneficial in Type 2 diabetes to have reduced blood sugar and insulin resistance even Many people have reported that the keto diet does reverse their pre-diabetes but people with Type 1 diabetes require special consideration.

 (It can also lead to an adverse effect by causing hypoglycemia, low blood sugar level due to medication)

For Type 1 diabetes too many ketones in your blood can cause sickness.

Reduce Cancer Risk

As per a study conducted in November 2018 in the Oncology journal Keto may help to minimize risk and treat certain cancers in combination with chemotherapy and radiation. 

Heart Disease

The Keto diet helps to raise good cholesterol HDL (high-density lipoprotein) and it helps to drop bad cholesterol LDL (low-density lipoprotein), which can cause heart disease. That’s why it also helps in reducing blood pressure and triglyceride level, fat molecules in the blood that cause heart disease.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS is a hormonal disorder, which can be caused by high insulin levels and enlarge the ovaries. A study from 2005 shows results of improvement in markers of PCOS.  Another study from 2019 showed positive effects of the keto diet on PCOS, 2 type diabetes, and hormonal disorder.

Metabolic Syndrome

A study published in 2017 in the journal Diabetes & Metabolic Syndrome: Clinical Research & Review shows a positive effect of the keto diet on metabolic disease.

Bipolar Disorder

It is also very helpful in stabilizing mood swings and sometimes more effective than medicine for a bipolar person (Journal Neurocase, 2012). 

Brain Functions

Ketones provide neuroprotective benefits and strengthen the brain cell. It also helps to prevent some other disease like

  • Dementia and Alzheimer
  • Obesity
  • Parkinson’s Disease

However, more research is needed to see the benefits of the keto diet on disease prevention. 

Keto Diet Side Effects and Risks

Although it has numerous benefits, still, there are few potential risk factors to keep in mind.

The common ones are not serious i-e constipation, maybe mild attack of low blood sugar or indigestion. The risk of taking a high-fat diet is that it may increase bad cholesterol and can cause several heart diseases so it is better to take advice from your doctor if you are already having cardiovascular diseases.

Some other risk factors are given below

  • Keto Flu 
  • Fatigue 
  • Headache
  • Dehydration
  • Bad breath
  • Gastrointestinal distress
  • Mineral and Vitamin deficiency
  • low protein in the blood
  • Extra fat in the liver
  • Fuzzy thinking and mood swings

These problems usually resolve within a few days. Taking a sufficient amount of water/liquids and electrolytes can help to resolve most of these problems. Some of the long term adverse effects can be hepatic steatosis, kidney stones and hypoproteinemia

People who should not follow a keto diet

Although keto helps the people who belong to the following group, experts still expert say that the keto diet may be a risk for them. It is better to avoid or consult your doctor before starting a keto diet plan.

  • Type 1 Diabetes or insulin-dependent
  • People with History of Eating Disorder
  • In case of kidney stones or Pancreatitis
  • Breastfeeding mothers or pregnant women
  • People who have removed gallbladder
  • In case of Thyroid Disease
  • People with Multiple Sclerosis
  • Avoid in case you are taking for high blood pressure
  • Carnitine palmitoyltransferase deficiency
  • Carnitine translocase deficiency

Things to keep in mind while creating Keto Diet Plan

 Mattison says “Everybody is different, but most people maintain ketosis with between 20 and 50 g of net carbs per day and it’s easy to get ‘kicked out of ketosis,”

So if you want to start ketosis you should be very careful about carbs intake as it can revert to the burning of carbs as fuel.

Foods to Eat in Keto Diet

The Keto diet is all about consuming more calories from fat and reducing carbs intake. Following is the list of few items which are keto-friendly foods items.

Vegetables (Leafy green vegetables, nonstarchy vegetables, vegetables that grow above ground e.g. avocado, celery, radish, cabbage, fennels)

Fruits (coconut, berries, lime, and lemon)

Dairy (Butter, cream cheese, cheese, grass-fed butter and heavy cream, full-fat Greek yogurt, egg, goat cream, mozzarella)

Meat (Chicken, pork, lamb, turkey, ham)

Sea Food (Fatty fish, lobster, oyster octopus, salmon)

Fats and Oil (Flaxseed oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, tallow, duck fat)

Nuts and Seeds (almonds, walnuts, chia seed, pumpkin seed)

Foods to avoid in Keto Diet

  • Starchy vegetables
  • Flour
  • Sugars
  • Processed food
  • Fruits other than berries and dried fruits
  • Sugary drinks
  • Cold cuts 
  • Artificial trans fats
  • Potato, corn starch
  • Raisins
  • Ice cream
  • Milk
  • Honey
  • Ketchup/ barbecue sauce
  • Soda drinks/ Fruit juices

Keto Strips

Keto Strips can be used to test yourself to know whether you have been entered in ketosis just after a few days of beginning the keto diet!. The ketone strip will test the level of ketone bodies in your urine or blood. The simple rule is if the concentration is high enough, you’ve successfully entered ketosis!

Keto plan supplements

It is not compulsory to add supplements but if you feel tired and weak you can add some of these supplements. These will help to boost your energy level and give some health benefits as well. 

  • Caffeine
  • Creatine
  • Whey
  • MCT oil
  • Exogenous ketones

Keto Frequently asked Questions

Q How long can I follow the keto diet?

If you want to follow the keto diet, it is better to limit this for a few months then switch back to a normal (little restrictive) diet to continue for a long duration. There is not enough research to support the keto plan for a long duration. 

Q Can I snack while on the keto diet?

Adjust your meal after checking your macrons, adding snacks is not a good option. Snacks will raise your insulin level which shouldn’t increase while on this diet. Stay hydrated and take a proper keto meal to satisfy your hunger. 

Q Can I ever eat carbs again?

Yes, you can take carbohydrates occasionally after following 2-3 months of the Keto plan.

Q Is ketosis extremely dangerous?

You should not confuse ketosis with ketoacidosis which is dangerous. It is better to consult your doctor before starting ketosis. 

Q How to resolve my digestion and diarrhea issue?

Take high fiber veggies to avoid this common side effect. Usually, it can be over after a few weeks.

Conclusion

A keto diet plan may help people who are overweight and improve their metabolism. It may not be as suitable as for others who wish for muscle building like athletes. There are certain signs and symptoms to identify that you are in ketosis.

People who want to start a keto plan should consult their doctor to ensure their health safety. Keto restricts the carbs intake although few carbs are healthy so it is better to take a less restrictive diet with complete nutrition.

 Please give your feedback in the comments section below or ask about anything further you want to know about the keto diet.

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