Keto diet: all you need to know

Are you interested in losing weight, improving your health, or reversing your diabetes? Do you want to get started with low carb and keto but have some doubts? The Royal Craft Wood team will show you the most common health benefits of a keto diet!

What is the keto diet

The Ketogenic Diet has been gaining popularity for a long time and it’s not hard to see why. A diet where you can eat bacon, meat, butter, cream, and cheese? It sounds too good to be true. It changes your metabolism so that energy comes from fat instead of sugar. The lack of carbohydrates makes the body break down fats into fatty acids and then into ketones. What are ketones, really? And what do they do in the body? Glucose is the main source of fuel for our bodies. When there isn’t a sufficient level available and glycogen levels are spent, blood sugar and insulin are lowered and the body looks for an alternative source of fuel. In our case, fat. This process can happen during starvation, after exercise, or when eating a low-carb, ketogenic diet. Ketones are formed for use as fuel for the body and brain when the body begins breaking down fats for energy. This is known as ketosis.  People following a ketogenic diet specifically reduce their carbohydrate intake for this reason: to create ketones for energy. Therefore, a keto or ketogenic diet is a very low-carb diet, which turns the body into a fat-burning machine. It has many proven benefits for weight loss, health, and performance, as millions of people have already experienced. Let’s talk about the benefits.

 What is “ketogenic” or “keto” mean

“Ketogenic” is a term for a low-carb diet (like the Atkins diet). The idea is for you to get more calories from protein and fat and less from carbohydrates. You cut back most on the carbs that are easy to digest, like sugar, soda, pastries, and white bread. When you eat less than 50 grams of carbs a day, your body eventually runs out of fuel (blood sugar) it can use quickly. This typically takes 3 to 4 days. Then you’ll start to break down protein and fat for energy, which can make you lose weight. This is called ketosis. It's important to note that the ketogenic diet is a short term diet that's focussed on weight loss rather than the pursuit of health benefits. 

Benefits of the keto diet

A low-carb diet is a diet that restricts carbohydrates, such as those found in sugary foods, pasta, and bread. It is high in protein, fat and healthy vegetables. There are many different types of low-carb diets, and studies show that they can cause weight loss and improve health.

Weight loss

Everyone wants to lose weight! Ask the 10 people nearest you what they want most and it’ll be right up there with money and power. Losing extra weight may help you look better, moreover, it can take the pressure off painful joints and improve overall health.  How to lose weight fast? Cutting carbs is one of the simplest and most effective ways! Recent research shows that overweight people with arthritis who lose at least 5% of their body weight have better mobility and 50% less pain. More scientific studies show that, compared to other diets, low-carb and keto diets result in more effective weight loss. Because the ketogenic diet is using body fat as an energy source, your body will begin to burn the unwanted fat causing obvious weight loss benefits.

Appetite control

To lose weight, you generally need to reduce your daily calorie intake. Unfortunately, weight loss diets often lead to increased appetite and severe hunger. But this is not the case with the keto diet! On keto you’ll gain control over your appetite. Food can stop being an enemy and become your friend or just fuel, whatever you want. When your body burns fat 24 hours, 7 days per week, it has constant access to weeks or months of stored energy, dramatically reducing feelings of hunger. This makes it easy to eat less and lose excess weight – just don’t eat until you’re hungry.  It can also help with problems like sugar or food addiction, and possibly some eating disorders (i.e bulimia), cause you don't need to fight feelings of hunger anymore. So, feeling satisfied can be part of the solution.

Cancer

Insulin is a hormone that lets your body use or store sugar as fuel. Ketogenic diets make you burn through this fuel quickly, so you don’t need to store it. This means your body needs - and makes - less insulin. Those lower levels may help protect you against some kinds of cancer or even slow the growth of cancer cells. More research is needed on this, though.

Energy and mental health

Feeling energetic every day can dramatically improve your quality of life. Feeling more energetic every day is a goal you can fulfill. A lot of people use keto diets specifically for increased mental performance. Also, many people experience an increase in energy when in ketosis. Keto diets can greatly increase your physical endurance by giving you constant access to all the energy of your fat stores. The body’s supply of stored carbohydrates only lasts for a couple of hours of intense exercise or less. But your fat stores provide enough energy to easily last for weeks or even months. Can you believe this?

Best acne treatment

There are many topical acne treatments. Some of them help kill the bacteria. Some work on reducing the oil. Many people experience improvements in acne on low carb diets. This is very likely no coincidence, as current studies show a probable connection between high-carb diets and acne. It is impossible, but it is! This may be caused by the effect on growth hormones like insulin.

Epilepsy

Ketogenic diets have helped control seizures caused by this condition since the 1920s. But again, it’s important to work with your doctor to figure out what’s right for you or your child.

Drawbacks of the ketogenic diet

Ketogenesis may seem like a new concept, but it is the natural process your body reverts to when it does not have enough glucose to use as energy. Your body will begin to break down fat and create ketones as an energy source. It’s kind of like your body’s built-in backup generator! 

Difficult to Sustain

Because of the stringent food restrictions, many find the keto diet hard to stick to. “The ketogenic diet can be effective for weight loss when used in a short time period followed by the adoption of healthier eating habits,” says Cardiologist Kameswari Maganti, MD, Northwestern Medicine Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute. “Unfortunately, it lends itself to yo-yo dieting, which increases mortality.” Ketosis is difficult to achieve because it’s like a light switch: either on or off. Individuals who consistently track food intake are more likely to remain in ketosis. But the only way to tell if your body is in ketosis is a blood test.

Calorie Depletion and Nutrient Deficiency

Because the keto diet is so restricted, you’re not receiving the nutrients — vitamins, minerals, fibers — that you get from fresh fruits, legumes, vegetables, and whole grains. Due to these deficiencies, people also report feeling foggy and tired. These symptoms have been dubbed “the keto flu”. Constipation is also common on the keto diet due to the lack of fiber.

Bad Fats in Practice

The high-fat nature of the diet could also have negative impacts on heart health. The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fat intake to 5 to 6 percent. In practice, many people eat high amounts of saturated fats, which could increase cardiovascular disease risk. We see an increase in lipids, or fats, in the blood of patients on the keto diet within six to eight weeks.

Renal Risk

Patients with kidney disease have an increased risk of requiring dialysis on the keto diet due to the additional ketones that their renal system has to process. Some people also experience dehydration on the keto diet because they’re eradicating glycogen, which holds water, from their bloodstream.

Food Obsession

When you micromanage your food intake by tracking how much you eat, it disconnects you from what your body is asking for. You start using outside numbers to determine what to eat instead of listening to your body. Monitoring food so closely can lead to psychological distress, such as shame, and binge eating. Restriction can lead to bingeing, which often leads to guilt, which then leads back to restriction in a continuous cycle.

Main rules of keto diet menu

What does a keto diet include? The most important thing for reaching ketosis is to avoid eating too many carbs. You’ll probably need to keep carb intake under 50 grams per day of net carbs, ideally below 20 grams. The fewer the carbs, the more effective your body will be at producing ketones. Counting carbs can be helpful at first. But if you stick to our recommended foods and recipes you can stay in ketosis even without counting carbs. 

What to avoid

Don't get too discouraged. Dietitians Stone and Laura Dority, M.S., R.D., L.D., with Keto Knowledge LLC, say that no foods are really off-limits on the keto diet. It's about total carbohydrate intake and how you choose to "spend" your carbs. Make it easier to stay within the macronutrient framework of the keto diet by steering clear of these foods:

  • Beans, peas, lentils, and peanuts
  • Grains, such as rice, pasta, and oatmeal
  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Added sugars and sweeteners
  • Sugary beverages, including juice and soda
  • Traditional snack foods, such as potato chips, pretzels, and crackers
  • Most fruits, except for lemons, limes, tomatoes, and small portions of berries
  • Starchy vegetables, including corn, potatoes, and peas
  • Trans fats, such as margarine or other hydrogenated fats
  • Most alcohols, including wine, beer, and sweetened cocktails

Keto drinks

What drinks should you avoid and what are the best? Everything is simple: water is wonderful. Another great choice is tea or coffee, but, what is important - don’t add sugar! An occasional glass of wine is okay, too. See more on the photo below. Overall, eating a high amount of fat, moderate protein, and a low amount of carbs can have a massive positive impact on your health – lowering your cholesterol, body weight, blood sugar, and raising your energy and mood levels. Most anyone can safely benefit from eating a low-carb, high-fat diet. Getting started is simple: just dive in! It’s always good to spend some time cleaning out your kitchen pantry and adding in new staples.

Vegetables on keto

On a keto diet, vegetables with less than 5 net carbs may be eaten relatively freely —have them with butter and other sauces! Try to avoid over-eating spinach, zucchini, lettuce, asparagus, and kale on a keto diet. You should be more careful with slightly higher carb vegetables like bell peppers, brussels sprouts, and beans to keep below 20 grams of carbs a day on a keto diet. One medium-sized red pepper can have 6-8 grams of carbs. As tomatoes are technically a fruit, you can have them on a keto diet. But again be careful! If you are doing a version of the ketogenic diet with more than 20 grams of carbs a day, you can eat as many vegetables as you desire.

Fruits on keto

Fruits and berries contain a lot of carbs, that is why they taste so sweet and yummy! In general, the sweeter or larger the fruit, the more sugar it contains. On the ketogenic diet avoid fruit for the best results (while berries are fine in moderation). To help you, we created a list of fruits and berries that you can eat on this diet!

Keto fats, sauces and oils

Everyone will agree, foods taste better with a buttery sauce, a spicy dip, a flavourful relish, or a savory marinade. And a keto diet should be high enough in fat so that you feel satisfied after every meal. What fats, oils, sauces, and dips can you add to your food and stay keto? What’s best for your health? Here’s a simple guide for you.

Keto snacks

Are you feeling hungry on the keto diet, but it’s not meal-time? Snacks will help. It can buy you some time, allowing you to delay meals and fit into your busy schedule. However, be very careful! Snacking should happen about 3 times a week. One of the best parts of eating keto is that hunger is kept at bay for hours after meals. If you regularly need to snack, try adding more fat to your meals. So, eat when you’re hungry, and eat until you’re satisfied. It’s that simple. You do not need to count calories or weigh your food. Begin by cutting out all industrially produced low-fat products.

Takeaways

Keto diet is a good non-longterm choice for people who want to try something new and get a positive effect. But, it is not so good for a long period of time (as 1 or more years). Currently, there are no long-term studies on the keto diet to see what effects, positive or negative, the diet can have on the body over the course of several years, leaving some doctors worried about the negative outcome eating so much fat could have on the body's bad cholesterol.

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