Have you tried all sorts of diets, but none of them produced satisfactory results? How about a diet in which you are allowed to eat consistently? It’s called the ketogenic diet and we’ll guide you through the benefits and side effects of following such a diet.
Contents of this article
- 1 History of the food guide pyramid
- 2 How Does keto Diet Work?
- 3 Fat that helps you get thinner, in the ketogenic diet
- 4 How and for how long you should follow the ketogenic diet plan?
- 5 How fast will be the weight loss process?
- 6 What You Need to Know Before Starting the Ketogenic Diet
- 7 Symptoms announcing the state of ketosis
- 8 The proven benefits of the keto diet
- 9 Mistakes and risks in the ketogenic diet
- 10 Three myths about the ketogenic diet
- 11 Conclusions
History of the food guide pyramid
If we look at the way our eating habits changed over time, we see that there were many versions of the food guide pyramid.
In 1943, the US Department of Agriculture elaborated the “Basic Seven food guide” which provided an overview of the recommended dietary allowances but contained very little about the caloric needs and the use of fats and sugars.
In 1956, USDA elaborated a new guide known as the “Basic Four”, which regulated four groups of food: vegetables & fruits, bread &cereals, dairy, and meat.
In 1977, were published some official recommendations from the US Senate, and the focus shifted to prevent chronic diseases by avoiding food components and products linked to these disorders.
1979 is the year when new studies and reports have been published, not just by USDA, but also by the Department of Health, Education and Welfare and the American Society for Clinical Nutrition. Besides new regulations about the basic four groups of food, there are now recommendations about fats, sweets, and alcoholic beverages.
Starting with 1992, the food guide pyramid looks similar to the one we know today, with focus on increasing the number of carbohydrates and decreasing fat consumption. The biggest problem is that this trend seems to be responsible for the current health problems related to weight gain, diabetes, and obesity.
Obesity has become a social emergency. In the past, many people died from starvation; now we die because of too much food; abdominal obesity is now one of the major cardiovascular risk factors and, together with hypertension and diabetes, forms the metabolic syndrome. In these circumstances, people start looking for other dietary options, effective in the long run.
How Does keto Diet Work?
First, let’s understand the terminology:
- Ketones are compounds that can be used by most human body cells, including brain cells, as energy
- Ketosis is the condition of the body when it uses ketones to energize itself and the brain
- Ketogenesis is a normal process within our bodies, which is about creating ketones. This genesis occurs within the liver, by decomposing fatty acids from recently consumed fats or body fat.
The ketogenic diet actively affects the ketosis, by making the body burn fat for energy, instead of burning glucose and storing fat. For that to happen, you need to limit the number of carbohydrates in your diet to a maximum of only a few grams per day (most people eat an average of 300 grams of carbs per day, so the sugar is their primary source of energy). During the keto diet, only 5% of the total calories come from carbohydrates, 30% come from proteins and, paradoxically, 65% come from healthy fats. The few grams of allowed carbohydrates can come from fruits with low glycemic indices, green vegetables, leafy green lettuce, etc.
There are also some variations of the ketogenic diet: adapted for lower protein consumption (75% fat, 20% protein and 5% carbohydrate), cyclic (with carbohydrate-rich breaks) and targeted (with added carbohydrates when doing sports).
As mentioned above, ketosis is a physiological state that refers to the burning of fatty acids in the mitochondria (the body’s energetic factories) through beta-oxidation and the formation of ketones (acetone, acetoacetic acid, and hydroxybutyric acid), hence the name ketogenic. Every time we burn fatty acids, the burning occurs through ketosis.
Is the ketogenic diet the new thing?
Actually, it is not new at all.
The keto diet was developed in the 1920s by endocrinologist Dr. Henry Rawle Geyelin, to treat epilepsy. Geyelin noticed that burning ketones instead of glucose changed the way nutrients were processed into the body. This change was apparently more manageable for the brain, considering that it led to a smaller number of seizures, in his patients.
The ketogenic diet has been made popular by cardiologist Robert C. Atkins in the early 1970s, in New York, who promised a fast weight loss to those willing to eliminate most carbohydrates from their diet, in favor of healthier proteins and fats. The variations in this diet based on the reduction in carbohydrate consumption have occurred since the early days of Atkins’s publication of “Dr. Atkins Diet Revolution”, in 1972.
What exactly means “healthy fat”?
We are taught to consider saturated fats as unhealthy, which is true, but many specialists also label vegetable fats as really bad for our health, especially hydrogenated fats. They do not exist in nature and must not be included in the keto diet.
Instead, fats from animal products, meat, eggs, fish, butter, and cream are highly recommended, just as some vegetable fats that can be found in nuts, almonds, pistachios, caju, flax seeds, pumpkin, sunflower, avocado, coconut, natural olives – all raw.
Besides providing taste and satiety, fats are essential for the absorption of some vitamins and phytonutrients and participate in the formation of all cell membranes. Essential omega-3 fats are involved in reducing triglycerides, bad cholesterol, increasing the good cholesterol, reducing the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
Why does the ketogenic diet encourage the consumption of more fat than protein?
Fats have no impact on glycemia and insulin levels, whereas proteins can have some effect on glucose and insulin, mainly when they are consumed in large amounts. If you overeat protein, about 56% of this excess will be converted to glucose, which will lower the body’s ability to burn ketones.
On the other hand, moderate protein intake will maintain your muscles and determine your body to burn fat.
Food you are allowed to put on your plate
The ketogenic diet menu should be based on the following shopping list:
- Eggs – boiled or cooked in any way, with coconut, avocado or olive oil. It is recommended to limit the consumption of sunflower oil due to the excess of Omega 6 and its pro-inflammatory effect
- Any type of meat (pork, chicken, turkey, beef, lamb, fish, rabbit, etc.), but not industrially processed meat, smoked meat, or sausages
- Various types of cheese (except for smoked cheese), regular yogurt, cream, butter with normal or high-fat levels, coconut butter, coconut cream
- Whole bread, in small quantities
- Vegetables, such as cauliflowers, cucumbers, radishes and, peppers, mushrooms, avocado, spinach, kale (leaf cabbage), broccoli, Brussels sprouts and wheat germs
- Garlic and onions
- Raw nuts, walnuts, peanuts, almonds, chia seeds, pine sprouts, macadamia nuts, pumpkin seeds, lupine seeds
- Low-sugar fruits in small quantities: blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, sour cherries, raw pineapple, kiwi, grapefruit
- Unsweetened peanut butter
- Natural coffee and green tea
In this table, you can see most of the products that you are allowed to consume, classified by category, to help you with your shopping list.
|Fats||Raw almonds, other types of nuts and seeds (but keep in mind that they also contain important amounts of protein and fibers!), vegetable oils (coconut, macadamia, wheat germ, avocado, pumpkin seeds, olive, corn, grape seeds etc.), sour cream, butter, avocado, coconut, bacon, liver, lard…
|Proteins||Fish (preferably fattier), whole eggs, fermented milk products, pork, beef, poultry and other types hazelnuts, nuts, almonds, nut butter…|
|Fibers and carbs (fiber appear as carbohydrates, but our body’s digestive enzymes cannot break them down)
|Vegetables (preferably green and leafy, grown above ground), citrus fruits, hazelnuts, walnuts, and almonds
Products that you have to remove from your diet
- pasta, bread and other products based on flour
- sugar, honey
- cereals and products based on cereals
- carbonated drinks and sweetened juices
- sweets of any kind
Fat that helps you get thinner, in the ketogenic diet
Most oils, including corn and olive oil, are synthesized in fatty acids that, once ingested, begin to circulate through the body. As soon as they are absorbed into the circulatory system, they allow fat cells to assimilate and store them inside.
Unlike other types of oil, once ingested, the coconut oil reaches the liver directly, avoiding the circulatory flow and being deposited in fat cells; as such, the triglycerides are burned almost instantaneously, once they arrive at the destination.
Benefits of coconut oil
- Coconut oil improves the immune system – Lauric acid (monolaurin) found in this oil creates a hostile environment for viruses and bacteria, helping our body fight back.
- Improves digestion and absorption processes – Our body needs healthy fats to absorb certain vitamins and minerals (such as vitamin A, D, calcium or magnesium).
- Provides energy and increases resistance – Many athletes include coconut oil in their shakes before a competition, or during long-lasting workouts.
- Coconut oil has a positive effect on muscle growth rate
How can to include coconut in your diet
Coconut oil is versatile and can be used in many ways. Spread it on a piece of whole bread, just as you do with the butter, use it as a sauce for cooked vegetables, or put it in a pan and fry some delicious eggs – and these are just a few suggestions.
People who include almond butter in their ketogenic diet will get good results with their weight-loss objective.
It does not contain hydrogenated fats (the most unhealthy and dangerous fat) and has a low content of saturated fat. Most of the fat is monosaturated, very healthy and helpful in lowering the cholesterol levels.
Almond butter is a source of protein and fiber (two tablespoons of almond butter contain 0,25 oz protein and 0,12 oz fiber), and this makes it an ideal snack. It will stop your craving quickly and for a long time. You can include it in your daily diet whether you want to lose weight, or simply want to correct your lifestyle.
Almond butter is also rich in vitamins (especially vitamin E) and minerals. For example, if you suffer from iron or magnesium deficiencies, two tablespoons of this butter are of great help. Almonds are said to be brain food because they are rich in calcium and copper that contribute to keeping the nervous system in good health and stimulating muscular and bone functions.
Raw almonds, peanuts, and nuts also play an essential role in our health. There are studies about determining the extent to which nuts consumption influences the burning of calories. The results show that the burning rate is increased by 11% in people who included nuts in their daily diet during several weeks.
The percentage of macronutrients that you are allowed to consume
|1500 daily calorie diet plan||Fat = 3,80 oz||Protein = 4 oz||Carbohydrates = 0,63 oz|
|2000 daily calorie diet plan||Fat = 5 oz||Protein = 5,3 oz||Carbohydrates = 0,88 oz|
|2500 daily calorie diet plan||Fat = 6,34 oz||Protein = 6,60 oz||Carbohydrates = 1,09 oz|
Effects of Alcohol on the Keto Diet
Can you drink alcohol while you are on a ketogenic diet?
A glass of wine (unsweetened, dry and preferably white, because red grapes contain more sugars than white ones), next to a thin slice of cheese before bedtime, can have a beneficial effect on the fat burning process. A 6 oz glass of dry wine, whether white or rosé, contains about 0,375 oz of carbohydrates.
Beer, on the other hand, gets a big NO, considering that it contains sugar and maltose that have a higher glycemic index than wheat. Beer will increase your insulin level almost as much as sugar. The contained alcohol is turned into citrate by the liver, through a process that produces fat that will be deposited in an extremely efficient way, due to the high levels of the insulin.
Sugary mixes, cocktails and flavored alcohols must be removed from your options.
Paradoxically, vodka or whiskey are made of cereals, but they are turned into alcohol and the finished products do not contain carbohydrates. They can be consumed, in small quantities, at special occasions, but keep in mind that alcohol provides calories to your body, without other added nutritional benefits, so it will be used for energy; as such, you should better stay away from the mini-bar if you want to have good results during your keto diet.
Be diligent with the water intake
Throughout the entire diet period, adequate water intake remains very important and can be supplemented with mineral water, green tea and unsweetened coffee. The keto diet has a diuretic effect on your body, so be prepared to go to the bathroom more often than normal. In the same time, you must re-hydrate your body and re-supply it with electrolytes, by keeping the salt in your diet. Otherwise, you may experience problems such as thumping headaches and fatigue.
Are you allowed to eat at the restaurant, once you started the keto diet?
The simple answer is yes.
Today, people are busy and do not always have the time or availability for cooking. The good news is that you can keep following your ketogenic diet even when you eat at the restaurant, by respecting some recommendations.
You should not trust dishes containing sauces, as you will probably not get the whole truth about their ingredients, but you can safely order salads or steaks.
Many restaurants mention in their menus the approximate quantities of each ingredient so that you can make your calculations without mistake.
Other things that you can choose from the menu include cheese platters, stuffed mushrooms and other vegetables allowed in the ketogenic diet, grilled or sauté; always choose restaurants that offer grilled zucchini and pepper, buttered broccoli, green beans or asparagus, cauliflower gratin etc. and you will get rid of the frustration of consuming the main dish with no garnish.
Supplements for Keto Diet
Vitamin and mineral supplements are recommended in any diet. The ketogenic diet involves restricting specific foods that provide nutrients to your body, but vitamin-complex supplements and some minerals will cover any gap; the added benefit is that they also minimize the harmful effects of the often-unhealthy lifestyle.
Other supplements that you can take include soluble and insoluble fiber, triple omega complex 3-6-9, L-carnitine, or green tea extract that optimizes metabolic processes and maximizes the efficiency of the ketogenic diet.
How and for how long you should follow the ketogenic diet plan?
If you want noticeable weight loss results without affecting your health, it is advisable to follow some steps recommended by specialists and consider certain aspects.
The ketogenic diet comprises two phases: the attack and the maintenance. In the attack phase, you should eat four times a day (preferably at 8 am, 11:30, 15:00 and 18:30) and reduce the total calories intake with 500 kilocalories. What does it mean? Well, if under normal circumstances, a woman should consume 2000 kilocalories a day, and a man 2500, once the diet begins, during the attack phase, it is recommended a daily menu with a caloric content of 1500 respectively 2000 kilocalories per day.
When you enter the maintenance phase, you will keep the four meals a day, but you can increase the calories to the normal levels – 2000 for women and 2500 for men. Also, 5-6 days you can follow the diet, then on day 6 or 7, you can consume carbohydrates: cereals, sweet fruits, whole bread, etc.
For some people, a 30-day ketogenic diet is enough to achieve their goals, but you can extend your diet to 3 months if you do not reach the desired weight sooner.
The end of dieting should not be abrupt; you should have a transition period towards a diet richer in carbohydrates. That`s because consuming large amounts of carbohydrates after a long period of ketosis (10-12 weeks) leads to fast fat accumulation and the results of your keto diet risk to fade in just a week. Fluctuations are not good for your body and you can prevent them by gradually reintroducing carbohydrates into your diet.
There are people who cannot go through a long ketogenic diet, but they can still follow it for shorter periods, several times a year.
In 2013, a study was conducted to reveal the results obtained with a keto diet followed by a low-carb diet and a stabilization phase. Subjects went through a strict keto diet for 20 days, then through another 20-day transition period, based on a low-carb non-ketogenic diet, followed by six months with a Mediterranean diet (balanced regarding proteins, fats, and carbohydrates). After this period, subjects repeated the 20-day ketogenic phase, this time followed only by six months of balanced Mediterranean diet.
The results were outstanding. Weight loss has been reported in more than 88% of the subjects, without regaining during the stabilization phase. Other benefits revealed by this study include decreases in glucose levels, triglycerides, and cholesterol.
How fast will be the weight loss process?
The ketogenic diet is perceived today as an effective weight loss plan, according to studies published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, The Journal of Pediatrics, Medical News Today and other reliable sources. Besides helping people to lose weight rapidly, the high protein intake involved in the process will also have a positive effect on body muscles.
It is not uncommon to lose 3-4 pounds even from the first week, representing water and glycogen. Later on, starts the fat burning process. You can expect to lose about 6 pounds in a month, but keep in mind that the weight loss rate varies from each organism, depending on factors like how strictly you respect the diet, water intake, and absorption, etc.
Not least, as in any other diet, the physical effort will speed up the results.
What You Need to Know Before Starting the Ketogenic Diet
We cannot talk about the efficiency of a diet if it puts your health in danger. Therefore, always consider consulting your doctor before starting a weight loss plan.
The ketogenic diet offers many other benefits besides weight loss, improving the condition of certain affections such as epilepsy, autism, Alzheimer disease, cancer and others. However, for some people, there may be some worries before starting this low-carb diet, especially if they suffer from kidney or heart disease and have restrictions related to fat consumption. In some cases, there have been reported increases in levels of adrenaline and cortisol, which can cause thyroid problems, heart irregularities, and increased blood pressure. You can avoid these problems if you make a complete set of analyzes, before starting the diet, to see if your health condition allows you to go through it with no adverse consequences. Analyzes are also recommended once you have started your diet, to see what health effects it has on you: cholesterol, blood pressure, etc.
Get your keto-diet off to a good start
- First, you must prepare yourself to spend more time in the kitchen. The specific menu involves quite a lot of time dedicated to cooking some real food.
- Plan your meals. This will help you get in advance the necessary food from the store, and you will learn faster to choose the right products and respect the quantities when preparing your meals.
- Replace your old eating habits with new ones. If you used to run to the closest fast food for a sandwich and a coffee, whenever you did not have time for anything else, you should now make time to prepare your natural and unsweetened coffee and cook an egg to go with it for breakfast.
- Keep your body hydrated. With the decrease in carbohydrates consumption, the kidneys will begin to eliminate the excess water from your organism. Be careful to drink plenty of water to compensate for the amount that you lose. If you experience headaches or muscle cramps, it’s definitely a sign that you need to consume more water and more minerals such as salt, magnesium or potassium, as you will also lose plenty of minerals along with the water elimination.
- It is possible that at the beginning of your ketogenic diet you feel tired, out of tune or experience concentration difficulties. To make it easier for your body and help it get sooner to the state where it starts burning fat efficiently and provide the needed energy, make sure that you do not cut too many calories and eat enough natural sources of fat.
- It would be a good idea to keep a classic or electronic diary, to write down and monitor your dietary intake.
Things you will need during your diet
- A kitchen scale will be handy, especially in the first few weeks
- A portable glucometer is lightweight and very easy to use; consider purchasing one before starting your diet, especially if you previously experienced problems with your blood glucose
- A table of food contents and a list of the allowed foods in the ketogenic diet; you will need these for shopping and food preparation.
- Tests that measure your ketones
It is important to determine whether your body reaches ketosis and burns ketones as fuel. A special blood meter, a breath meter or urine sticks are all very helpful to test the levels of ketones in your body.
Here is some more information about how they work.
- Urine sticks detect the acetoacetate eliminated by the liver once it starts synthesizing fatty acids into ketones. This test is recommended for the beginners and works best in the beginning stages. Urine sticks are cheap and easy to use, although a bit messy. You must pee on them and wait a bit until you notice a color change. The darker, the better, because it indicates that your body reached ketosis.
- A breath test detects acetone/acetate correlated with BHB in the blood. This test is excellent for those who prefer not to get in contact with bodily fluids. It is reusable and shows real-time ketones values. A ketone breath monitor is small enough to be carried with you and can be used anywhere, not just in very private places, as in the case of urine sticks. All you need is access to a USB port or a special battery pack that may be purchased with the product. Plug in the breath test, blow into it and keep your eyes on the color and the speed of the flashing light; green means the least acetone, while red means most acetone; additionally, less flashing indicates less acetone per color, while more flashing suggests more acetone per color. It may take a little time to get a reading.
- A blood ketone test reveals the level of Beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), which represents the primary ketone in the process of ketosis. This analysis provides the most accurate results, but it is invasive and consists in pricking your finger and tapping a drop of blood on a test strip. It is also more expensive than the other testing options, but it provides precision and reliability in testing your ketone levels.
Symptoms announcing the state of ketosis
Besides using the testing options presented above, you should also pay attention to the signs that your body sends. Your progress toward the state of ketosis is announced by several symptoms telling you that you are on the right track.
In the very first days, you may experience increased thirst, because you are losing water-retention through increasing amount of urination. Once your body starts using ketones as energy, you will feel fewer cravings and hunger, considering that your energy is not dependent anymore on the carbohydrates intake. Your body now has a constant energy supply that will make you experience better cognition and improved mental clarity. Carbohydrates cause fluctuations in the insulin levels, but in ketosis, there will be no such thing; ketones burned as fuel will make your brain more productive.
The proven benefits of the keto diet
Higher protection against brain cells degradation
As mentioned before, the ketogenic diet was initially used in the symptomatic treatment of epilepsy, before its use for weight loss. Although researchers still do not fully understand the mechanism involved, a wide variety of evidence show that ketones provide more fuel to the brain and an increased degree of protection against brain cell degradation. This is revealed by a report on the subject of the relationship between ketogenesis and neuroprotection, published in September 2006, in the “Behavioral Pharmacology” journal, by a team of researchers. They conducted clinical studies on human and animal models that show that the ketogenic diet protects against seizures in severe cases of epilepsy, provide symptomatic benefits in the Alzheimer`s disease, improves the symptoms related to the Parkinson`s disease and has neuroprotective properties in ischemic and traumatic brain injury.
Improved glucose control in diabetes
When we consume carbohydrates, they decompose into glucose, in the digestive tract. From there, it enters the bloodstream and increases the blood glucose level. A high blood sugar level is toxic, so the body responds with a hormone called insulin, which commands cells to bring on the glucose and start burning or storing it. In healthy people, the rapid insulin response reduces the blood sugar levels; however, many people have serious problems with this mechanism. They have what is called “insulin resistance,” which means that cells do not “see” the insulin and therefore it is more difficult for the body to bring the sugar from the blood into the cells. This problem can cause a disease called type 2 diabetes, which occurs when the body fails to produce enough insulin to lower blood glucose levels, after meals. Unfortunately, it is a widespread disease today, affecting about 300 million people worldwide. Reducing carbohydrates reduces the need for insulin; therefore, both glucose and insulin levels are expected to decrease, during the ketogenic diet.
To highlight this fact, a group of researchers from North Carolina compared the glucose control properties of a ketogenic diet to those of a low-glycemic and low-calorie diets, in a study conducted on of a group of male patients with obesity and type 2 diabetes. After more than 20 weeks, patients who were on the ketogenic diet presented greater improvements in the glycemic control, as well as a substantial reduction in medication, as opposed to patients who followed the diet with a low glycemic index. The results have been published in a 2008 issue of the journal Nutrition & Metabolism.
Other benefits of a keto diet
The ketogenic diet reduces appetite, increases mental and physical energy and preserves the muscle mass (especially in combination with a smart workout). Paradoxically, it is cheaper than other types of diets and easier to follow, as long as you remain motivated and respect the rules. It decreases the levels of bad cholesterol, increases testosterone – with all the known advantages -, as well as the levels of the human growth hormone (somatotropin or HGH). The ketogenic diet provides more energy to your body so that symptoms of chronic overload should be mitigated. If you feel fatigue after a month, take a magnesium supplement with maximum concentration, and a Q10 coenzyme supplement, with a concentration of 100 mg, plus a vitamin B complex or multivitamins.
Not least, once you started your diet plan, you may notice improvements in your digestion and better stomach health (reduced stomach pains, bloating, gas, etc.).
Mistakes and risks in the ketogenic diet
Consuming too much protein and too little fat
In this case, some amino acids will be transformed into glucose by a process called gluconeogenesis. This provides a source of energy that can lower the body’s ability to burn fat. The second thing that happens because of high protein intake is that the body cannot efficiently eliminate all by-products resulting from the metabolism, such as ammonium, which is toxic. This happens at consumption of 230-250 grams of protein per day. Thirdly, when the proteins are not completely digested and reach the intestines, the bacteria there eat them through a fermentation process. This reduces the beneficial intestinal flora and creates inflammatory components.
Low protein intake
This is another common mistake in the ketogenic diet, and it must be avoided because it leads to a loss of the existing muscle mass and causes a wide range of symptoms. Common symptoms include edema, the fragility of the hair, increased pigmentation on the scalp and other body parts, muscle pain, etc., while severe symptoms include sleeping disorders, headaches, nausea, abdominal pain, low heart rate and metabolism.
Low fiber intake
The classic version of this diet (Atkins) reduced to a minimum the intake of vegetables, nuts, and seeds. However, if you intelligently choose your sources, you can provide your body the necessary fiber amount without significantly increasing the intake of carbohydrates.
Insufficient water intake
Some people have had health problems following the keto diet because of a trivial mistake: too little water consumption. 12-15 cups of water per day will keep you away from most issues.
Maintaining the acid-base balance
Ketonic bodies are acids, as well as foods rich in proteins. However, a sufficient intake of vegetables (spinach, broccoli, etc.) and nuts should keep the acidity under control.
Choosing to pay attention only to carbohydrates
Minimizing the carbohydrates intake is only one of the steps that you must do when you start a ketogenic diet. Knowing that you have consumed less than 1 oz carbohydrates per day is simply not enough. It is equally essential to closely monitor your protein and fat intake, to ensure that muscle mass is not affected by the weight loss process and your body has an optimal energy source.
Additionally, if your main goal is losing weight, you must pay attention to how much calories you eat, otherwise, you risk gaining extra pounds. The ketogenic diet allows you to eat consistently and provides enough calories to your body, but it doesn`t mean that you can make food excesses. Just make sure that you respect the recommendations, and everything should be fine.
Abandoning when the symptoms of adaptation occur
Some people have reported the occurrence of a so-called “keto flu,” a feeling of weakness in the body, accompanied by muscle aches, headaches or nausea. This condition is due to the loss of excess water specific for the early days of the diet, which also implies a loss of electrolytes. However, this is not a reason to give up. These symptoms are quite typical when you remove the carbohydrates from your diet, and you can feel better by supplementing it with salt and minerals (especially magnesium and sodium).
Not eating enough salt
Yes, we have been told that salt is not healthy and should be avoided by people who suffer from certain conditions – which is true, but salt is also an important electrolyte, and its intake in the ketogenic diet is vital. As mentioned earlier, the keto diet is diuretic, and the loss of water in the body entails the loss of electrolytes that must be re-supplied. Remember that during the ketogenic diet, hypertensives may experience tension regulation, so they may be able to consume salt, at least in small amounts, if their doctor says so.
Consuming hidden carbohydrates
Sometimes, the reason why some people do not reach the desired results with a ketogenic diet is related to unintentionally eating “hidden” carbohydrates. Sugar is almost omnipresent in the products that we buy every day, and many people may not realize this due to wrong/ incomplete information on the labels. When you set up your menu or purchase products for a pre-established menu, make sure to choose natural foods. Beware of ingredients such as dextrose, maltodextrin, cornstarch or invert sugar, as they will only perpetuate your sugar carvings and pull you out of ketosis, which will apparently block the weight loss process.
Most people associate diet with sport, and at least for women, the most popular option is cardio. The problem, however, is the increase of the stress hormone level (cortisol) associated with cardio in excess, which causes decreased fat metabolism, abdominal fat, and a weakened immune system.
A healthy alternative to cardio is fitness that will help you increase your muscle mass, which will lead to a higher burn rate.
Sleeping is essential to the human body, and the lack of adequate sleep can cause memory problems, obesity, and weakness of the immune system. It is also related to severe hormonal disturbances such as decreased GH (growth hormone), low leptin (the satiety hormone) and an increased level of ghrelin (a hormone that stimulates appetite). Everyone should sleep at least 7-8 hours per night, but people do not always respect this recommendation, even if, most of the time, a good sleep makes the difference between an exhausting day and a very productive one.
Make sure that you have proper sleeping conditions and avoid falling asleep before your laptop or TV. Additionally, you should know that switching your phone to Airplane Mode reduces its negative impact on your body.
Consuming artificial sweeteners in excess
If you come from chronic sugar addiction, replacing it with a natural sweetener such as Stevia or Tagatesse can be a temporary solution, but not a long-term solution. In some cases, depending on the patient’s background, sweeteners can perpetuate the need for sugar and block the weight loss process whenever an insulin response occurs after their ingestion.
Failing to respect the recommendations about eating consistently four times per day
Eating little and often is a myth in the weight-loss process and you must replace this habit with four clear meals. What is the reason behind this? When we divide our daily calories into many snacks (that cannot be considered meals because they do not meet some essential requirements, such as minimal protein intake), we offer our body permanent sources of energy for daily activities. Thus, it will not reach ketosis, simply because its attention will stay away from its own fat deposits.
Three myths about the ketogenic diet
- It only works because you eat fewer calories
As mentioned earlier, one of the benefits of a ketogenic diet is that you will satisfy your hunger more efficiently than you would with a low-fat diet. And that`s because the idea of this diet is not centered on drastically reducing the caloric intake, but rather on keeping it at a healthy level and start other body mechanisms that will help you lose weight without starving.
- You will feel very bad
In the first couple of days, you may not feel so great indeed, as your body goes through a transition, a shift to an entirely different metabolic state. Nevertheless, after that, you should be just fine. If you feel tired and experience some discomfort, it means you are doing something wrong, and you must review the recommendations specific to the ketogenic diet. For example, many people try to stay low-carb, and low fat at the same time; in other words, they will starve and the keto diet does not ask for this. Actually, most people, if they respect the diet altogether, should feel even better than before.
- You will destroy your kidneys
People with severe kidney problems may be advised to avoid a high protein intake. Although there are no studies to support a direct link between these things, there is an increased risk of kidney stones due to rising levels of uric acid in the blood. This can be avoided by adequate fluids intake and the addition of potassium citrate.
Although the ketogenic diet is one of the few in the world that work above expectations, people have to understand that they must carefully follow the recommendations to reach the desired results.
Negative effects may occur anytime when this diet is not followed correctly, so it must start with a set of medical tests and continue with periodic health monitoring. People with certain health conditions or genetic predispositions may not the best candidates for a long-term diet that involves high-fat consumption, but these aspects must be discussed and analyzed with their doctors.
However, if the indications are closely followed, the ketogenic diet can significantly increase the quality of life for both overweight people and those suffering from various contemporary diseases.
The ketogenic diet requires some will and a lot of organization, being not the easiest diet to follow; that’s because you must carefully choose the foods you are going to eat, to keep the carbohydrates intake at a minimum, as well as spend more time in the kitchen.
Don’t forget these useful tricks that will help you get along the keto diet with ease:
- Know the food that you are allowed to eat
- Choose recipes in advance (you can easily find, with a simple research, unique methods designed for people who follow the keto diet)
- Serve for breakfast the leftovers from dinner last night because, well, you left something, right?