The ketogenic diet is probably one of the most talked-about plans these past few years. But before considering the approach for yourself, you might wonder who should follow a keto diet and why.
Well, fear not, we will tell you who should consider the low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet and cover which conditions the century-old plan can help support.
Essentially removing or limiting carbs is a way to spark your metabolism, allowing the body to run on fat and ketones rather than glucose. And triggering this metabolic transition provides the body with a broad range of mind and body benefits to boost feelings of wellness and vitality––all while helping followers to easily release unwanted excess weight.
As you discover more about the benefits of curbing carbs, you'll see how a low-carb, high-fat diet combined with intermittent fasting can revolutionize your health and help you reach and maintain your ideal weight.
There's a lot to unpack regarding the perks of eating a keto diet, but first, we'll dive into what the diet is, its foundations, standard practices, and variations of the plan that make the diet a versatile approach suited for a broader range of people.
What is a Ketogenic Diet?
Although the keto diet is a prolific tool for weight loss in modern times, this century-old eating style emerged as a therapeutic protocol used to treat children with medically-resistant epilepsy effectively in the early 1920s.
Healthy fat receives redemption with this simple approach to eating, with grass-fed beef and pasture-raised eggs back on the menu in place of grains and sugars.
You should strive to consume approximagely 70 percent of your calories from fat, 25 percent from protein, and 5 percent from low-glycemic carbohydrates when adhering to a keto-style diet. And prioritize the quality of your micronutrients as much as you mind your carb macros to ensure optimal health while you lose weight.
A healthy ketogenic diet must include sources of high-quality fat. Nevertheless, strict carb restriction is the primary aim of a keto diet rather than consuming excessive amounts of fatty foods––as maintaining ketosis is the ultimate goal––no need to overdo your fat intake.
You can craft your exact macronutrient budget based on various personal and lifestyle factors, as well as your preferences. Plus, you may choose an iteration of the standard keto diet, such as the cyclical, high protein, or keto 2.0, so that the ancient plan can work well for your modern lifestyle.
Keto Best Practices
A keto diet is an exciting undertaking, but there are some tips and best practices you should know before you start. Setting yourself up for success with a ketogenic diet is as simple as following these steps:
- First, stay hydrated when cutting carbs. As your body will release a greater quantity of fluids, nutrients, and electrolytes once you reach ketosis. Therefore, you should drink increased H2O throughout the day to avoid dehydration and unwanted fatigue and body cramps.
- A gradual reduction in carbohydrate intake is the most gentle way to induce metabolic ketosis in the body. In the case of quitting carbs and sugar cold turkey, you are likely to experience more intense transitional symptoms, also known as the 'keto flu'—a less than desirable and avoidable introduction to a super low-carb diet.
- Increase your healthy fat intake to aid in satiety and help with the initial phase of breaking up with sugar and carbs. Moreover, a keto diet rich in healthy fats––such as omega-3-rich fish, monounsaturated olive oil, and grass-fed ghee––promotes thermogenesis and rapid fat loss.
Plus, exercising to deplete glycogen stores, getting enough rest, or doing a short fast, such as the beef and butter fast, can help kickstart ketosis.
Benefits of Ketosis
Rapid weight loss may be the most talked-about benefit of ketosis in diet circles, but this well-researched dietary approach offers perks that go far beyond skin-deep. Ketosis has many benefits, ranging from regulating glucose levels and improving insulin sensitivity to balancing hormones and aiding in appetite suppression.
If you continue to decrease your carb intake and sugar intake, you may find that you enjoy the following health benefits of ketosis:
- Low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diets are excellent for losing weight fast because you're losing body fat and water weight at the same time, often resulting in quite impressive weight loss on the scale in the first few weeks.
- Weight gain in the abdomen, especially visceral fat, which impacts organ performance and may lead to adverse health outcomes, is notably reduced when you cut carbs. Many people report significant fat loss and inches lost in their midsection as a result.
- Because of the suggested higher fat intake, cholesterol is a common concern when considering a keto diet. Yet those following the diet often have lower triglyceride levels than those eating starchy fare, feel fuller faster, and manage their appetites naturally without fast-acting carbs.
- Additionally, sourcing premium and diverse sources of fat and fiber-rich produce is a comprehensive approach to cultivate and support normal blood pressure levels, minimizing many health issues—especially as we age.
- Metabolic issues, such as insulin and glucose imbalances and hormonal imbalances, can lead to weight gain or weight loss stalls. By eliminating simple carbohydrates and sugars, you can recalibrate your metabolism and maintain optimal health. Subsequently, insulin, glucose, and hunger hormones such as leptin and ghrelin will be better used and regulated by the body.
- Monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and some saturated fats lower LDL cholesterol levels by reducing your appetite. You will consume fewer calories to achieve the same feeling of fullness, which will help you effortlessly create a calorie deficit week after week.
- Those suffering from various neurological conditions may benefit from restricting carbohydrates and sugar. Ketosis can reduce adverse symptoms and support optimal vitality in everything from treating medically resistant epileptic seizures in children to helping with cognition in those suffering from disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and dementia.
Who Should Try a Keto Diet?
Expecting moms and unborn babies enter more frequent and deeper states of ketosis naturally approaching and immediately following birth. Ketosis is a preferred and optimal state that promotes the synthesis of vital cells and systems.
Further, ketosis strengthens the fundamental building blocks of the body and mind, promoting healthy development and cell regeneration at crucial times of human development––along with helping to sustain the body with the aid of metabolic flexibility and efficiency over time.
The keto diet is suitable for virtually anyone, but those with neurological conditions can especially benefit from a ketotic state as a way to mitigate adverse symptoms.
Furthermore, the following people would greatly benefit from eating fewer carbs and eliminating sugar from their diet:
- People wanting to lose unwanted weight with ease
- Individuals with pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes hoping to improve glucose levels and insulin sensitivity.
- Anyone with a body mass index (BMI) exceeding 40, placing you in the category of extremely obese and thus at higher risk for various health problems.
However, it is imperative to be careful as you begin to restrict carbs if you have a history of eating disorders. Following a diet as specific as keto can result in feelings of increased rigidity and lead some with a relevant past to obsess over dietary rituals or possibly trigger uncomfortable feelings of social isolation.
However, you can fill your social calendar around food-based activities and keep it keto with a little clever planning and added consideration. No worries, the extra effort will pay off substantially in non-scale victories as well as success on weigh-in day.
Plus, a ketogenic diet offers unique benefits to help remediate the effects of a wide-range of otherwise debilitating disorders. Curbing carbs and limiting sugar can assist with symptoms of some of the following:
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): PCOS sufferers struggle with a number of health issues, including infertility and extreme difficulty losing weight or maintaining a healthy body weight. Despite this, the metabolic benefits of ketosis, from controlling blood sugar to improving insulin sensitivity, can lead to a loss of stubborn body fat in those with the condition while amply supporting reproductive health.
Moreover, a ketogenic diet may also reduce our luteinizing hormone (LH) to follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) ratio as well as free testosterone levels, both of which tend to be elevated in those with PCOS, leading to adverse effects.
Autism: The beginnings of the ketogenic diet, established as a highly-effective food-based approach to manage medically-resistant epilepsy, provides powerful benefits to neurological and cognitive function in those with neurodivergent presentations like individuals with autism, as well.
Plus, with epilepsy as a common comorbidity of autism, the well-founded benefits provided by the plan make it an ideal option to consider for loved ones on the spectrum.
Additionally, children with the noted comorbidities, as well as other conditions along the neurological spectrum like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), compulsive behavior (OCD), preoccupation with parts of or alignments of objects, as well as sleep disorders were found to have improved sleep while seizure frequency was reduced, while adhering to a low-carb, high-fat diet.
- Parkinson's Disease: Entering ketosis and the benefit of running on fat and ketones for fuel offers amazing cognitive benefits and aids the brain and body in phenomenal and unexpected ways––relieving non-motor side effects of Parkinson's Disease like urinary issues, pain, fatigue, cognitive impairments and daytime sleepiness.
- Certain Cancers: Drastically reducing glucose and fast-acting starches from the diet starves dangerous tumors of their preferred food source: sugar!
Subsequently, by eliminating overt sugars and glucose-spiking carbs, one may experience the following life-important benefits while battling cancer:
- Growth of tumors is slowed
- Protect healthy cells from damage from chemotherapy or radiation treatment
- Ensure that healthy cells are not harmed by chemotherapy or radiation
- Potentially increases the efficacy of cancer-fighting drugs
- Relief from inflammation, which promotes cancer growth
- May prevent weight gain during and after chemotherapy for breast cancer patients
- Metabolic Syndrome: Dietary ketones provide a broad range of benefits that can help improve symptoms of metabolic syndrome, such as high blood pressure, elevated triglycerides, and excess belly fat.
- Moreover, emerging research suggests that even if a person doesn't lose any weight, a low-carb diet can drastically reduce the risk of a number of hereditary and lifestyle conditions like higher heart disease and stroke.
- Diabetes: People with type 2 diabetes should always reduce their sugar intake and eat low-glycemic foods. A ketogenic diet, however, especially one that promotes ketosis, glucose regulation, and insulin sensitivity, is a great therapeutic addition to any diabetes meal plan.
Traumatic Brain Injury: The keto diet can provide you with enough energy to power long study sessions. However, higher ketone levels can be particularly beneficial for those with brain injuries. Because ketones reduce oxidative stress, increase antioxidants, and eliminate free radicals from the body, they are essential in helping the brain heal and regenerate.
The proven benefits to neurological function of a ketogenic diet hint at its potential to aid in supporting recovery for those who have experienced a traumatic brain event, although additional studies of the effects of the keto diet on brain trauma victims of varying kinds (e.g.,mild/concussion, moderate, severe, and penetrating, etc.) is needed to gather a better picture of the appropriate and ideal therapeutic application of the diet for trauma sufferers.
- Multiple Sclerosis: Multiple sclerosis patients observed in a recent study who adopted a high-fat, low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet experienced significant improvements in their disease––including decreased fatigue, reduced depression, and improved quality of life––a reason to at least consider keto if seeking relief from the condition’s potentially life-altering side effects.
Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD): It is common to associate liver disease with alcohol abuse, but many people suffer from liver disease without ever drinking in excess.
Regardless, eliminating carbs and sugars from your meal plan offers a great benefit to anyone seeking to improve liver health as ketosis aids in rapidly reversing insulin resistance which helps the body properly synthesize and regulate healthy triglyceride levels, promoting proper liver function.
Alzheimer’s Disease: The therapeutic benefit of increased ketones for individuals living with a wide range of neurological needs––such as individuals with epilepsy, autism, ADHD, or dementia––is also shown to occur in Alzheimer's disease sufferers who follow a low-carb, high-fat diet, with some reporting improved mental function.
Furthermore, the dietary protocol may even help prevent the onset of the disorder in the first place.
Migraine Headaches: Following a keto diet provides energy to the body and brain. In migraine sufferers, this is especially relevant, since they frequently report mental fatigue and impaired processing.
Moreover, anecdotal data suggests some migraine sufferers may benefit from a keto diet thanks to the many benefits of intermittent fasting, a practice generally combined with a low-carb, high-fat diet to boost its benefits.
However, despite the diet’s stellar benefits––some people need to approach the plan with greater caution in order to avoid worsening some pre-existing conditions, like kidney disease. Take particular care under the supervision of a medical professional and curate a plan that is sufficient to support your situation if you are starting the keto diet having any of the following:
- Persons at risk for cardiovascular disease
- Women who are pregnant or nursing require particular nutritional support and should probably add increased levels of macros during this time as the priority over limiting carbs; consult your doctor for customized guidance.
- Persons with type 1 diabetes: A ketogenic diet can drastically lower glucose levels and this is often beneficial but could be life-threatening for those with metabolic conditions like type 1 diabetes, so, be cautious and consider another dietary option instead.
- Those with a history of liver or pancreatic problems
- A person who has undergone gallbladder removal
- Low-carb, high-fat diets should be crafted with special care for individuals with thyroid conditions to avoid exacerbated pre-existing symptoms.
- Any genuine lifestyle change is likely not what you're after if you go to the gym once and scowl when the same number on the scale appears unchanged the next day. Keto is a lifestyle, so this is not the plan for you if all you want is a fad or quick-fix to fat loss.
A high-protein variation of the keto diet may be beneficial for athletes and others involved in powerlifting or other activities requiring significant bursts of energy. If you are performing low-to-moderate intensity exercises, ketones and fat are the best sources of fuel.
However, bodybuilders, powerlifters, and those doing high-impact exercise such as CrossFit, may need to consume more carbs and protein macros to meet their nutritional needs.
A ketogenic diet is a fantastic dietary approach for many seeking to improve the way they look and feel, while eating delicious and satisfying foods. However, we may approach a low-carb, high-fat diet in different ways when we are in different stages of our lives––which is okay, because this eating style is quite flexible.
Adapt your macros and activity level according to your nutritional needs and wellness goals in order to achieve renewed and improved health. And tailor the foods included in your keto meal plan to maximize your results and to suit your individual wellness needs.
Most people can safely follow a ketogenic diet, but if you have a pre-existing condition that could be adversely impacted by dietary changes, you should consult your doctor to craft the eating plan that’s best suited to support your overall health.
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