Ketogenic Diet – The Benefits and Risks You Need to be Aware of

Many of us believe that fats can destroy your diet. So, can a meal plan that recommends high amounts of fat help you lose weight?

Yes, if the research surrounding the Ketogenic Diet is to be believed. Known as The Fat reduction diet recommends a combination of high fat, adequate protein and low carbohydrates that change the way energy is used in the body. HealthifyMe Senior Nutritionist Neha Jain explains how it works. “This diet works extremely well for those people who have hit a weight loss plateau and want to change their metabolic system. As the body ends up using fat stores as energy, this helps you lose weight faster,” she says.

Designed in 1924 by Dr. Russell Wilder at the Mayo Clinic, the Ketogenic Diet recommends a meal plan that includes high fat (up to 70-80%), moderate protein (15-30%) and low carb (5-10%). Lower carbohydrate intake forces the body to use fat – rather than glucose – for energy. This process leads to a high level of ketones – acids produced when the liver breaks down fat for energy – in the bloodstream. Ketones are the preferred fuel source for the body, particularly the brain; its presence can alter the body’s metabolism, shifting it from burning glucose to burning fat.

But before you break the butter, know this. The ketogenic diet, popularly known as the ‘keto diet’, involves consuming large amounts of ‘good’ fats such as nuts, seeds, avocados, olives, vegetable oils and fish. Eating good fats and low carbs leads to cell regeneration, reduced inflammation and weight loss.

The benefits of a ketogenic diet

The benefits of a ketogenic diet are manifold:

1. Weight loss is accelerated

Low-carb diets are known to lead to faster weight loss without feeling hungry or rigorously counting calories. A 2014 study conducted by the National Institutes of Health found that low-carb diets are more effective for weight loss and reducing cardiovascular risk factors than low-fat diets. The diet also promotes abdominal fat loss; The belly is the most dangerous place in the body to store fat.

2. Improved cognitive function

A report published in The physiology journal associated a high-sugar diet coupled with a deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids with lower cognitive scores and insulin resistance. The Ketogenic Diet leads to positive changes in brain energy metabolism due to partial replacement of glucose as the primary fuel.

3.Reduced risk of metabolic syndrome and heart disease

Research has shown that a ketogenic diet can prevent metabolic syndrome. A 2012 study published in The American Journal of Epidemiology revealed that low-carb diets are more effective in reducing certain metabolic and heart disease risk factors than low-fat diets.

4. May work as a natural cancer treatment

Research has shown that the solution to treating cancer may be regulating the body’s metabolic functions. Removing carbs from your diet the keto way can deplete cancer cells of their energy supply and stop them from spreading.

5. Reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes

Cutting carbs helps people with type 2 diabetes because carbs turn into blood sugar and can, in large amounts, cause blood sugar spikes. The high-fat, low-carb ketogenic diet could potentially change the way the body stores and uses energy, alleviating the symptoms of diabetes.

6. It can reduce food cravings

One of the most talked about benefits of the ketogenic diet is the fact that eating less carbs and more healthy fats and proteins satisfies all your cravings – as ghrelin, the “hunger hormone”, is turned off. Diet activates the body’s satiety hormones and allows you to stay longer without having to snack.

the risks

Along with the benefits, a ketogenic diet also comes with some risks:

1. You may feel tired and irritable

Ketogenic diets can lead to the carb flu, a side effect that translates to fatigue and irritability. A 2007 study published in The Journal of the American Dietetic Association revealed that blood ketone levels are directly related to feelings of fatigue and greater perceived exertion during exercise in overweight adults on low-carb diets.

2. Can lead to ‘brain fog’

Staying on a ketogenic diet for a long time leads to a metabolic shift in the body. This can make you sluggish and short-tempered, and can result in your inability to focus and think clearly. This is most true if you have drastically reduced your carbs, so avoid this at all costs.

3. Your lipid profile may change

If you include large amounts of saturated fats in your diet, it can negatively affect your blood lipid profile. Cholesterol levels tend to rise if you opt for unhealthy fats; avoid this trap by choosing healthy fats.

4. Micronutrient deficiencies are another possible consequence

A low-carb diet often lacks micronutrients, including thiamine, folate, calcium, iron, potassium, and magnesium — this is because your carbohydrate intake is limited. Avoid this problem by taking a high-quality multivitamin.

5. A condition known as ketoacidosis

If the level of ketones in the blood gets out of control, it can lead to ketoacidosis. The blood pH level drops, creating a highly acidic environment, which can pose a serious health risk for diabetics.

6. It can lead to muscle loss

Like any other hypocaloric diet, the ketogenic diet is catabolic, meaning it can lead to muscle loss. This happens as you consume less energy and your body relies on other tissues – such as proteins – to serve as an energy source. If accompanied by intense exercise, it can cause even more muscle breakdown.

Neha cautions that people should not follow a ketogenic diet for an extended period of time. “Factors such as age, gender, activity level, body weight and genetic disposition are all important and it is best to consult an expert for a balanced diet plan,” says Jain.

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