Ketogenic or keto diet is a type of food therapy where the intake of carbohydrates are kept to a minimum value while taking moderate protein, and consuming foods rich in fats. Metabolically, the body is pushed to consume fats as the primary energy source, instead of carbohydrates. For centuries, carbohydrate sources (wheat, rice, corn, and potatoes) have been used as staple meals. The Keto diet is different in its morphology, as contrary to other healthy diets, carbohydrate content is kept to a minimum.
The history of the Ketogenic diet dates back to the 1920s and 30s when it was used as the best food therapy for the treatment of epilepsy. It was just until recently, that the diet got prominence in the fitness industry, mainly because of its effectiveness for fat or weight loss benefits. Because of its unique metabolic impact, the phrase, “Eat fats to burn fats”, became the tagline for the Keto diet.
Why is it called The “Keto Diet”?
It is called the Ketogenic diet and there is a scientific reason behind it. While consuming low carbs diet, the body is left with no other choice but to burn the deposited fats as fuel. Therefore, energy to perform body functions is provided by the metabolism of fats. The mechanism by which the body performs this function is known as Ketosis. Ketosis is a process of fatty acid conversion into its metabolites, Ketones. Ketones are organic compounds belonging to the class of hydrocarbons. As a result of the increased concentration of Ketones in the blood, this type of food therapy is known as the Keto diet.
Food Sources for Ketogenic Diet
Several sources are rich in fats and can be used as sources of the Keto diet. Generally, any source that has higher fat content or low carbohydrate levels, can be consumed as a source of food for the Keto diet. These sources include butter, meat, cheese, bran bread, seed (flax, chia, basil etc.) based food products, avocados, olives, nuts, etc. Low-carb foods like strawberries, melons, and tomatoes.
Keto Diet Meal Planning
As a part of ketogenic diet food therapy and meal planning, the general practice among the masses is a combination of intermittent fasting and ketogenic food. Intermittent fasting is another type of food therapy, where the subjects only eat after a specific interval of time. It may range from an interval of 12, 14, 16, 20, or even 24 hours. In this way, the body’s carbohydrate sources are burnt out and fats are then introduced as an alternative.
Benefits and Effectiveness of Keto Diet
There are several documented benefits of the Ketogenic Diet. The proper way to pursue a Keto diet is through a combination of fasting and low-carb consumption. Fasting itself is beneficial for the human body and metabolism. The consumption of a low-carb diet results in the improvement of insulin sensitivity among the subjects. Studies have shown that insulin insensitivity is a major cause of obesity among the population. Also, several diseases are linked to the insulin insensitivity of the human body, like diabetes, cancer, acne, cardiovascular diseases, and hypertension. Improvements in insulin sensitivity, as a result of the keto diet, is one aspect that helps in fat loss and weight management.
It is proven that a combination of high fats and high protein diet provides more satiety than a diet based on carbohydrates. This also accounts for crediting the keto diet as a fat loss or weight management diet.
Hazards of Ketogenic Diet
Along with benefits, there are some serious possible hazards of the ketogenic diet as well. This form of food therapy elevates the blood ketone levels, as a result of Ketosis. Mild health risks involved in the keto diet food therapy include headache, constipation, indigestion, mood swings, cramping, low blood sugar levels, etc. Severe health risks may include, kidney stones, extreme hypoglycemia, or sudden extreme drop in blood glucose levels.
Is Ketogenic Diet Good for Everyone?
The answer to this question is straightforward, no, the keto diet is not suitable for everyone. It might be used to treat a certain type of illness (upon the prescription of your doctor) or to achieve a fitness goal, but cannot and should not be taken for a long time. Another result of the Keto diet could be the deficiency of nutrients. Studies have shown a decrease in the bioavailability of certain nutrients taken with fats.
Recently, an article was published on the website of CNN, where they compared the Keto and Mediterranean diets. The results showed the effectiveness of the Mediterranean diet, over the more hyped keto diet.
The Keto diet is no doubt one of the most famous and effective types of food therapy. Nevertheless, there are several risks and hazards involved. Also, it is not advisbale to keep a person on a ketogenic diet for a long period, so in principle, contrary to the hype, the ketogenic diet is not the right type of meal plan, one should adopt.
Hi, I am Humayun, I hold MS and PhD degrees in Chemical Sciences from Germany. Currently I am working as faculty at the Department of Chemistry, Food Science and Technology, at a Public Sector University. I have immense interest in the fields of Food Science and Sports Nutrition.