On a normal diet, your body converts carbohydrates that you eat into glucose for fuel. The glucose is either used immediately or sent to your liver and muscles to be stored as glycogen for future use. On a ketogenic diet (keto for short), the goal for your body is to burn fat for the source of energy instead of carbohydrates. A typical keto diet is high fat, low carbohydrate with a moderate intake of protein. The name comes from ketones, a molecule formed when the body burns fat for its source of energy instead of carbohydrates.
Typical foods in a keto diet include meat, eggs, processed meats, cheeses, fish, nuts, butter, oils, seeds and fibrous vegetables. Fifty percent of your diet comes from carbohydrates for a typical American, so you cannot expect this diet to be life sustaining. It takes about three to seven days for your body to adjust and the process can be known as the “keto flu.”
Symptoms include tiredness, nausea, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, insomnia, upset stomach, dehydration, and bad breath. These symptoms may appear during the whole time of your diet.
How did the keto diet become so popular and is it the right diet for you?
People became excited about the keto diet because it leads to fast, short-term weight loss. This is because you are put into a calorie deficit where the body burns more energy than it takes in.
But is this life sustainable?
Not so much.
Research indicates that people tend to gain back their weight, and even more after only a year or two (Raymond, 2018). People also fell in love with the keto diet because they get to indulge themselves in their favorite fatty foods. Unfortunately, high fatty foods tend to be higher in saturated fat that lead to increased inflammation.
Heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other diseases are caused by or worsened from increased inflammation. When you are eliminating carbohydrates from your diet, you are also eliminating vitamins, minerals, and fiber that come from fruits and vegetables.
Eliminating an entire food group makes it hard to be life sustainable.
A good start is being mindful of your hunger cues to eating in moderation. When looking to losing or maintaining weight, a well balanced diet filled with a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, legumes, nuts and minimizing processed foods is a great way to a healthy lifestyle and will help achieve your goals.
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