The Keto Diet Explained – Benefits, Risks and How to Get Started


On a keto diet, most of your calories come from sources like fish, eggs, dairy products, meats, butter and oils. Low-carb veggies like kale, Swiss chard and cauliflower may also be included as sources of nourishment.

Dieters who are at increased risk for cardiovascular disease, pregnant and breastfeeding women, those with kidney issues or eating disorder histories or have had eating disordered behaviors in the past should consult a physician prior to beginning.

Weight Loss

Most people following The Keto Diet experience rapid weight loss within weeks, helping reduce any associated aches or pains from excess weight, lower their blood pressure, and decrease risk factors associated with heart disease and diabetes.

Sticking to a restrictive diet such as ketogenic can be challenging for most, which is why it is beneficial to seek assistance from professionals such as doctors, registered dietitian nutritionists and trainers when creating healthy eating plans and addressing any potential obstacles such as stress or lack of sleep that could impede weight loss.

The ketogenic diet requires its followers to eat an increased proportion of fats, with an approximate ratio of 75% fats to 25% proteins and 5% carbohydrates. Some healthy sources of fat include nuts and seeds, olive oil and coconut oil. Avocados contain low levels of carbs while providing plenty of monounsaturated fatty acids – providing another great source of monounsaturates – while berries also make for low-carb options – plain coffee or tea contain zero grams of carbohydrates so are acceptable on this plan!

Blood Sugar Control

The keto diet is high in fat, helping control blood sugar levels by restricting carbohydrates. When carbohydrates are restricted, ketones form as energy sources from burning fat for energy production – helping lower blood sugar and enhance insulin sensitivity.

Diets also help lower cholesterol, and thus may reduce heart disease risks, but can increase it in some individuals, so it is essential that we eat healthful fat sources such as avocados, olive oil, nuts and seeds and avoid processed meats like bacon and sausage as part of a balanced diet.

Before embarking on the keto diet, it is wise to consult your physician first, especially if you have diabetes. Any abrupt change to your diet could have negative repercussions for blood sugar and can even lead to physiological insulin resistance – an involuntary state caused when carbohydrates overstimulate our bodies – a temporary side effect often experienced when undertaking restrictive diets.

Cardiovascular Health

The ketogenic diet limits carbohydrates, forcing your body to use fat for energy instead. This produces ketone bodies – fuel for brain tissue as well as other tissues in your body. Studies suggest that ketogenic diets may help decrease chronic endothelial inflammation – a risk factor of heart disease.

McManus suggests that ketogenic dieting should only be undertaken under medical guidance, with regular appointments to monitor health and progress, blood-ketone testing, and medication dosage adjustments (for glucose-lowering medications such as insulin). In particular, one should avoid fatty meats and processed vegetable oils in favor of unsaturated fats found in olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds.

Avoid high-sugar fruits such as bananas, sugary juices and smoothies, candy, ice cream and cake as well as starchy vegetables like corn, peas and potatoes. Beverages containing sweeteners should be replaced with water instead, while nondairy milk such as almond or coconut milk provide reduced carb counts per cup.

Mental Health

As soon as carbohydrates are eliminated from the diet, ketosis occurs as your body uses stored fat for energy instead. Though your brain requires glucose for functioning optimally, liver and muscle tissue may use ketone bodies as fuel as well, alleviating any brain fog and depression related to low blood sugar.

Keto diets may provide significant mental health benefits by decreasing oxidative stress levels, increasing brain blood flow and altering energy metabolism in the brain. One study observed people suffering from treatment-resistant depression who found a ketogenic diet significantly improved their symptoms.

Another study demonstrated how ketogenic diet can decrease symptoms of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder as well as reduce metabolic side effects caused by antipsychotic medications, achieving 31% reductions on Clinical Global Impressions scale and reporting greater life satisfaction, mood stability and sleep quality among participants in a pilot trial. Authors of this research recommend anyone considering embarking on such a regimen should first speak to their physician or registered dietitian first before beginning such a plan.

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