Everything You Need To Know About Keto Diet
Bajaj Finserv Health Team, Dietitian/Nutritionist
November 23, 2020
When it comes to maintaining health body weight, there are numerous approaches you can follow. Among the safest, most effective, and sustainable measures is to adopt a tailored meal structure that helps you achieve your desired goals. Over the years, various weight loss diets have risen to popularity and have been adopted by the masses to shed the kilos. While some of these are healthy, others have been proven to be fad diets that do more harm than good. Among the more popular ones for weight loss in the recent years is the keto diet. You may be surprised to know that what was once used as an age-old form of therapy for epilepsy is now a recommended nutrition plan for those with the goal of losing weight quickly.
However, keto nutrition isn’t for everyone and should only be undertaken with professional guidance. This is because it is restrictive in practice and requires a proper nutritional balance to deliver its desired effect without any side effects. For this reason, even when opting for a keto diet plan for beginners, it pays to have the keto diet explained to you beforehand so that you’re familiar with the principles that guide it.
For a clear answer to the common question, ‘What is a keto diet?’ and to learn about the other important factors that define it, read on.
What is ketogenic diet?
Simply put, a ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carb diet that conditions the body into a metabolic state known as ketosis. During ketosis, fat is efficiently used as energy as it is converted to ketones in the liver. These ketones are then used to provide energy for the brain. Healthline Media outlines 4 main types of ketogenic diets, and they are as follows.
- Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD): 75% fat, 20% protein, 5% carbohydrates
- Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD): 5 ketogenic days followed by 2 high-carb days
- High-protein Ketogenic Diet: 60% fat, 35% protein, 5% carbohydrates
- Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD): Allows liberal consumption of carbohydrates before or after workout and otherwise follows the SKD skew
Apart from these major types of keto diets, you may come across other combinations such as very low carb ketogenic diet, calorie-restricted keto diet, or MCT keto diet, which focuses on getting fats from medium chain triglycerides usually found in foods like coconut oil.
What are the benefits of a keto diet?
Besides the fact that a ketogenic diet works well for weight loss, there are other potential health benefits associated with it. Keto diets may help:
- Reduce seizures
- Relieve PCOS symptoms
- Protect the brain and its function
- Control blood sugar, reducing the risk of certain cancers
- Improve symptoms of Parkinson’s disease
- Aid recovery from brain injury
Which foods can you consume on a keto diet?
From the outside looking in, a keto diet may seem indulgent since it is centred on high-fat, high-protein foods, many of which are usually demonised for their unhealthy nature. However, given how this diet works, these foods can work favourably if consumed in a controlled manner. Here are the foods you should consume when on a keto diet.
- Low-carb vegetables: Tomatoes, onions, greens, peppers
- Meat: Red meat, white meat, bacon, ham, turkey, and other unprocessed meats
- Eggs: Boiled, fried, omelettes, scrambled
- Avocados: As guacamole or plain
- Cheese: Unprocessed and cottage
- Cream or butter: High-fat dairy
- Condiments: Salt, pepper, and herbs
- Fatty fish: Salmon, tuna, mackerel, and trout
- Oils: Avocado, olive, and coconut
- Nuts and seeds: Walnuts, almonds, pecan, chia seeds, flax seeds
Which foods should you avoid when on a keto diet?
Given that the keto diet is based on a low-carbohydrates principle, there are several foods you simply shouldn’t consume. These can affect the overall efficacy of the diet and can set you back by weeks if you’re not careful. To highlight the foods you should avoid, here is a list.
- Alcohol: Carbohydrate content affects ketosis
- Sugar-free foods: Contain sugar alcohols affect ketone levels
- Sauces: Certain sauces have sugar and unhealthy fat content
- Beans and legumes: Lentils, chickpeas, peas and others
- Starches or grains: Cereal, pasta, rice, wheat-based products
- Fruit: Almost all fruit barring berries
- Sugar-rich food: Candy, soda, juices, etc
- Low-fat foods: Usually high in carbohydrates
- Root vegetables: Potatoes, carrots, parsnips
Are there any side effects of a keto diet?
While it does have its benefits, adopting the keto diet on a long-term basis may cause a few health complications. These side effects aren’t restricted to a long-term practice of following a keto diet, and may also occur right at the start. This is because certain pre-existing conditions don’t adjust to its diet plan too well. For instance, those with diabetes and those who are insulin-dependent are not advised to go on a keto diet. Similarly, those with kidney disease, pancreatitis, and eating disorders should also avoid it.
However, for those who do get on the keto diet, here are some possible side effects of following a long-term plan.
- Excess protein in blood
- Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
- Fat in the liver
- Kidney stones
- Keto flu (occurs in the early stages)
How long should you maintain a ketogenic diet?
There are studies that back the health benefits that a keto meal plan provides. However, many of these studies were conducted over periods of a few weeks, extending to a maximum of a few months. While other studies did find benefits up to a period of 2 years, there isn’t enough data to suggest that a keto diet remains beneficial for longer. Ideally, it is best to adopt the keto diet for a few months, achieve your weight goals, and then switch back to a less restrictive diet for maintenance.
Given the complexity of this nutritional plan, simply understanding the keto diet meaning is clearly not enough. As such, it is crucial that you don’t experiment with it without professional guidance. While you may think you know what is keto, experts are cautious and some even deem the diet controversial. The side effects of the keto diet are very real and can cause lasting damage to your health if you’re not careful. However, if you’re interested in trying it out for yourself, consult a specialist and have them draw up a keto diet for beginners, specifically designed for you. This is the best route to take as nutritionists will not recommend it to you if a risk exists. A good way to find the best dieticians in your area is to use the Bajaj Finserv Health app.
This app gives you access to healthcare at your fingertips. With it, you can not only find the best doctors in your vicinity, but also book appointments online and consult with them virtually over video. For dietary care, virtual consults are a lot more convenient and easier to handle. Moreover, you can use the app’s ‘Health Vault’ feature to track your vitals and store digital patient records. You can send this information to doctors digitally and get timely tweaks to your keto diet plan for optimal results. For all these benefits and much more, download the app for free from the Apple App store or Google Play today!