The keto diet, short for ketogenic diet, is a diet that has been hailed by many for its effective and unconventional approach to losing weight. By just adhering to two rules, the keto diet has gained a lot of traction for its simple, yet very successful diet plan. So what is keto and how does it work?
The Caveman Diet
Sometimes known as the caveman diet, the keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet that manipulates macronutrients such as fats, carbs and proteins to eliminate fat and reduce the overall weight of your body. The main objective of this diet is to get your body into ketosis, a type of metabolic state. While in this state, the body starts burning fat instead of carbohydrates for energy. The liver converts fat into ketones, which are then supplied to the brain for energy. Keto diets are not only good for trimming the waistline, but also have a number of health benefits.
Types of Keto
There are essentially four types of keto diets to be aware of.
Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD)
The standard keto diet consists of 75% fat, 20% protein and 5% carbs. It is essentially a low-carb, high-fat diet with moderate levels of protein.
Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD)
This diet is a little tricky to track compared to the normal keto diets. It typically centres around five days of the keto diet and two days of high-carb diet.
Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD)
If you’re the type to work out regularly, this diet will be perfect for you. You can add carbs around your workouts, which will contribute to significant muscle gains and fat loss.
High-protein Ketogenic Diet (HPKD)
Like the name suggests, the high-protein keto diet is just like a normal keto diet with an increased protein intake. Choose a diet that meets your lifestyle needs — if you aspire to be a bodybuilder or athlete, aim to adopt a cyclical or targeted ketogenic diet. If you are a beginner to the keto diet, start small with a standard keto diet, then work your way up to more advanced diets.
Benefits of the Ketogenic Diet
If you want to lose weight without having to starve yourself, then this is the diet for you. The high-fat intake will leave you feeling fuller longer, while also burning excess fat, which is associated with type 2 diabetes. The keto diet is said to regulate HDL cholesterol levels, blood pressure and blood sugar levels, preventing and reducing the risk of heart disease.
If you are suffering from acne, the keto diet could be a potential solution for your skin problems. This could be largely due to the limited intake of sugar and processed foods when on the keto diet, which in turn reduces the insulin levels in the blood.
It is important that you seek professional advice if you have a pre-existing medical condition, before you adopt a keto diet.
Although the rules of keto are simple enough, there are some common pitfalls that can ruin your diet.
One of the most common mistakes people make when they are taking on a keto diet is accidentally consuming carbohydrates. Processed and packaged foods often contain hidden sugars or added sugars in them. For instance, tomato sauce, soy sauce and beef jerky are all foods that contain sugar. Skip the salad dressing, as most of them contain sugar in them, as well. Peanut butter, processed cheese and even foods high in fat such as yogurt, ice cream and chocolate should be avoided, as they contain refined sugar as well.
Not eating enough fat is also another common problem that most people encounter. In order for your body to burn fat, you need to ensure that your body receives upwards of 80% of your total energy intake from fats. This will trigger the body to reach into your fat reserves, instead of utilising proteins for energy. It is also very easy for people to consume more protein instead of fat. This will in turn remove your body from ketosis and might cause you to lose muscle mass.
Keto diets may cause constipation, as the diet is low in fibre; it is important that you increase your fibre intake with artichokes, asparagus and other dark, green leafy vegetables to avoid this problem.
To save time, headache and frustration, take some time to prepare keto-friendly meals ahead of time. This way, you will not reach for something processed or substitute your usual keto meal with a regular meal that does not meet the diet requirements.
Before you embark on your ‘miracle’ diet, know that not all fats are the same. Steer clear of processed fats such as vegetable oils and seed oils. These increase the LDL cholesterol levels in your blood and this will, in turn, increase the risk of heart disease and cancer. Healthy fats such as avocados, whole eggs, nuts and fatty fish high in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon and mackerel should be included in your diet instead.
Redefine Your Relationship with Fat
Many see the keto diet as a quick solution for weight loss. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. The keto diet is a long-term lifestyle change that will transform the way you approach food. Start with small and simple steps by cutting out refined sugars first, then work your way up to a standard keto diet. Avoid common pitfalls and make sure that you schedule in regular exercise. If you think a keto diet can improve your health or even heal any pre-existing health conditions, you should play it safe and consult a doctor before you make any major changes to your diet.