The Keto Diet: What Is it and Does it Work?
With more and more people trying to lose weight and live healthier lives, a vast range of different diet plans have emerged in recent years. One of the more popular among these is the keto or ketogenic diet. This diet breaks many of the nutritional conventions that are common to other diet plans, but its adherents swear by its effectiveness. Here’s what you need to know about the keto diet and how useful it is.
The Basic Mechanics of the Keto Diet
The basic concept of the keto diet is to force your body to switch from burning carbohydrates for fuel to using fat stores exclusively. Though there are different variations on this diet, most versions advise adherents eat no more than 50 to 100 grams of carbohydrates per day. This limited intake of carbs is generally in the form of non-starchy vegetables. Aside from this small amount of carbohydrate allowance, people who follow the keto diet are advised to eat almost exclusively proteins and fats. Fish and lean meats are favorites of people who follow the keto diet, as these foods are good for maximizing protein intake while still maintaining a healthy balance of fats.
How Does the Keto Diet Help With Weight Loss?
There are a few different components to the weight loss that people typically see while following the keto diet. The first is just that this diet is conducive to lowering your overall caloric intake. Without sugars and carbohydrates to fill out your meals, your nutritional intake will be centered mostly on meats and vegetables, both of which are filling enough that you aren’t likely to overeat. That is especially true if you’re mainly sticking to lean meats since protein is known to fill you up faster and keep you satisfied for longer than either fats or carbs.
Many people see rapid weight loss immediately after beginning the keto diet. That is the result of the shedding of stored water weight, which is an attractive side benefit of this diet. In the absence of regular carbohydrate intake, the body is unable to store as much water, causing it to release most of its stored water weight. Though this has nothing to do with fat loss, the water weight you shed in the first week or so of the keto diet can be incredibly motivating, and will likely make you look at least a little leaner very quickly. After the first week of the regimen, of course, this effect will taper off and eventually the weight loss from water will cease.
The final component of the keto diet’s weight-loss effects is a biological phenomenon known as ketosis, for which the diet gets its name. When the body runs out of carbohydrates to burn, it will switch over to burning fat-based molecules known as ketone bodies, usually referred to simply as ketones. In a state of ketosis, your body is forced to dip directly into fat reserves to make up any caloric deficit it may encounter, which is why this diet is quite useful for fat loss. Ketosis also drives down levels of blood insulin, resulting in an easier mobilization of stored fats from your body.
How Effective is the Keto Diet?
The keto diet can be an effective way for you to lose weight. There are, however, some caveats that not everyone is aware of. The keto diet isn’t a magic weight loss bullet. To lose weight on keto, you’ll still need to remain in a caloric deficit and make your body use stored fat for energy. It’s also essential that you eat the right kinds of meats to keep yourself healthy. Some people use the keto diet as an excuse to eat fatty, processed meats merely because they contain no carbohydrates. This approach will make it difficult for you to stay in a caloric deficit and expose you to the long-term risks associated with unhealthy food choices.
With all of that said, many keto dieters have reported good results from following the diet correctly. People who have a fair amount of weight to lose often report shedding as much as 2 to 3 pounds per week on keto, which is a bit more than an average caloric reduction diet would yield. As with any other eating regimen, the weight loss will slow down as you approach your target weight.
How Effective is the Keto Diet?
Beyond weight loss, putting your body into a ketogenic state has several peripheral health benefits. Using ketones as fuel has been linked to such benefits as improving mental clarity and cognitive function reduced blood sugar levels and even reduced blood pressure. Because of its reliance on protein as a primary source of food, the keto diet also helps to reduce food cravings and promote the growth of muscle tissue.
Possible Risks of the Keto Diet
Although the keto diet is adequate for weight loss and has many other health benefits, all eating regimens have their possible risks. The main potential risk of a ketogenic diet comes in the form of extra stress on your kidneys as a result of having to process added proteins. If you already suffer from kidney problems, the keto diet may not be for you. Some have also suggested that prolonged adherence to the ketogenic diet could increase the risk of osteoporosis since most people get a majority of their calcium from dairy products. Additional research into the effects of the keto diet is needed to confirm these risks and establish how dangerous they are, but most healthy individuals should be able to follow a keto diet for weight loss without undue risks to their health.
If you’re looking to lose weight, the ketogenic diet can be a great way to go about it. By reducing your carb intake, you can lose weight faster while eating filling, satisfying foods.