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Keto Diet: Symptoms, Benefits and Side Effects

Keto Diet: Symptoms, Benefits and Side Effects

 If you are someone who indulges in healthy cooking or diets, you would have definitely heard about the Ketogenic diet. There has been a lot of buzz around the keto diet, and it being an effective way to lose extra weight. The keto diet is a low- carbohydrate, moderate protein, and high fat diet that aim at burning fat more efficiently. It apparently has various benefits for weight loss, health, fitness and overall activity, and hence is often recommended by many dieticians. It is useful to treat various health conditions too, such as diabetes, cancer, Parkinson’s, etc.

Ideally the keto diet has been around for a long time, and has been used to treat specific medical conditions. Like in the 19th century, keto was commonly used to treat and control diabetes. In the 1920’s it was used as a means to treat epilepsy. It has also served to help treat certain types of cancers and brain related disorders.

However, the keto diet grew in popularity around the 1970’s when there was a raised craze to lose weight, and was popularized by several celebrities. Though there are similar diets out there that reduce carb intakes of the dieter, what makes the Keto diet unique is that it promotes consuming exceptionally high fat content; nearly 70%. The main idea is to deprive the body of glucose, which is the main source of energy for the body.

What is Keto Diet?

The Ketogenic or keto diet is a diet that focuses on eliminating carbohydrates out of one’s daily caloric intake, thus it is a high fat, medium protein and low carb diet. . The diet works around the principle that the body will get more calories from the proteins and fats that enter the body, and less from the carbohydrates. When one reduces their carbohydrate intake, the body eventually runs out of fuel, or blood sugar, that it can use quickly; this usually happens after three to four days of minimizing your carb intake. When the body realizes that it does not have enough quick fuel, it starts to break down protein and fat for energy.

The word keto comes from the word ketones, which is an alternative source of fuel for the body, when there is a shortage of glucose in the body. Now typically, when we consume carbohydrates, it breaks down into sugars, which the body absorbs and uses as fuel. However, on the keto diet, the body switches its fuel supply, and runs on fat. In other words, the keto diet helps in weight loss by causing the body to enter into a Ketogenic state, wherein the liver starts to break fats into ketones, which is basically breaking down fats into acid, in order to supply energy.

Therefore, when one reduces their carbohydrate intake, the body eventually runs out of fuel, or blood sugar, that it can use quickly; this usually happens after three to four days of minimizing your carb intake. When the body realizes that it does not have enough quick fuel, it starts to break down protein and fat for energy, which leads to weight loss. The reduction in carbs puts the body into a metabolic state known as ketosis.

Keto Diet Benefits:

All in all, the simplistic approach of the keto diet has attracted people to experiment with it, as a result of which there are multiple variations of the keto diet available. The keto diet has become one of the most tried diets, and has risen immensely in popularity in the past few years.

While the main benefit of Keto is the effective weight loss and boosting metabolism and reducing appetite. Other benefits include:

  • Improves Acne: Keto diet can reduce acne, as the reduction of carbs can alter the balance of bacteria in the gut, which affects skin.
  • Helps reduce the risk of certain cancers: It is known to prevent and treat certain cancers, and is seen as a complimentary treatment alongside chemotherapy and radiation, as it causes more oxidative stress to cancer cells thereby causing them to die.
  • Improves Heart Health: keto diet causes a drop in cholesterol, and boosts the presence of good cholesterol.
  • Strengthens and protects brain and nerve cells. Additionally, it is known to treat conditions like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, etc.
  • Reduces Blood Sugar
  • Used to treat conditions like epilepsy. Polycystic ovarian syndrome, etc.

The Ketogenic diet offers several keto benefits; however starting the keto diet is a real commitment. It is a strict diet that aims to restrict one’s carb intake to around 50 grams a day, and thus it is beneficial to consult a dietician to figure out and customize the diet as per one’s needs.

Keto Diet: Common Symptoms & Side Effects:

Upon starting the diet, after a good 3-4 days, once you’ve limited your carbohydrate intake, and glucose levels have dropped, and the body has entered ketosis, a common symptom experienced by dieters, is the “keto flu”.  This is a condition that is experienced at the beginning of the diet.

The keto flu is similar to a normal flu, wherein the dieter experiences symptoms one would feel during a regular flu. It is marked with:

  • feeling fatigued,
  •  nausea
  •  fevers,
  •  Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Cramps and muscle soreness
  • Dizziness and headaches, and weakness
  • Irritability
  •  Poor concentration
  • Sugar cravings, etc.

These are symptoms that are commonly witnessed. Now it is important to realize that symptoms vary in severity, and from person to person. Luckily the symptoms begin on the 4-5th day of starting keto and only continue for a week at maximum. It is less common for people to experience symptoms for longer.

A dieter experiences Keto flu, due to the shock the body receives; the drastic reduction of carbohydrates causes withdrawal like symptoms. The flu occurs in the transition period, when the body is adapting to the new way of eating.

Additionally there are a few other negative side effects to the keto diet, which includes-

  • increased risk of kidney stones,
  •  excessive protein in blood stream
  • Mineral and vitamin deficiencies
  • Liver conditions due to fat build up, etc.

Therefore it is important to consult a dietician to plan a proper meal plan, and include healthy fats, a variety of meats, endure adequate intake of fiber, minerals and vitamin. Doing this will help reduce any risks due to nutrient deficiencies.

All in all, the Keto Diet is a diet that is carefully curated for each individual, and thus requires the assistance of a dietician. If done correctly, keto foods help the dieter lose weight, along with feeling healthier both mentally and physically. It is a diet that focuses on eliminating the carbohydrate food group, and replacing the energy gained from there with fats! This however hoes not mean that carbs are bad, or fats should be consumed in excessive quantities. Keto focuses on creating an overall well balanced diet, with wholesome keto foods.

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