Keto Diet and Weight Loss – How does It Work?

Metabolic diseases and obesity have become the world’s biggest health issues. According to WHO, at least 2.8 million adults die from obesity-related health issues each year. Obesity can lead to various other health issues like high blood pressure, deranged cholesterol, high triglycerides, and insulin resistance. Risks of coronary heart disease, ischemic stroke, and type 2 diabetes mellitus also increase with it. To combat this issue, various diets have emerged, few of which are actually backed by research. One of them is a Ketogenic Diet. Here we tell you how a keto diet and weight loss work together.

What is a Ketogenic Diet?

A ketogenic diet is a high fat, moderate protein, and very low carbohydrate diet. As the intake of carbohydrates reduces and fat increases, the body enters a metabolic state called ketosis. In ketosis, the body uses fats to provide energy and turns them into ketones. Ketones are molecules that can supply energy for the brain.

Read about the concept of the ideal diet here!

After following this diet for a few weeks, the body and the brain become very efficient at burning fat and ketones for energy instead of carbohydrates. Thus, a keto diet primarily works by lowering insulin levels, producing ketones and increasing the fat burning capacity of the body.

Read our article on dietary tips for weight loss!

Foods to eat during Keto

Staple foods on a ketogenic diet include fish, meat, eggs, butter, heavy cream, cheese, oils, nuts, avocados, seeds, and low-carbohydrate vegetables. Nearly all carbohydrate sources are eliminated, including rice, grains, beans, potatoes, sweets, milk, cereals, fruits, and even some high-carb vegetables.

Are you an Indian vegetarian? Read here to understand how you can follow a Keto diet!

How Does It Work?

When one eats less than 50 grams of carbohydrates in a day, the body eventually runs out of fuel which can be used quickly. This typically takes 3 to 4 days; then your body will start to break down protein and fat for energy, which can make you lose weight. 

Ketogenic Diets and Weight Loss

A ketogenic diet will help you lose more weight in the first 6 months in comparison to other diets. This may be because it takes higher calories to change fat into energy than it does to change carbohydrates into energy. It’s also possible that a high-fat, high-protein diet satisfies you more, so you feel less hungry and eat less, but that hasn’t been proved yet.

Scientific Evidence

Ketogenic Diets can help you lose fat, preserve muscle mass and improve many disease-related markers. In fact, many studies have compared the recommended low-fat diet to a ketogenic diet for weight loss and found it to be better than other diets. Findings prove that the ketogenic diet is superior, even when total calorie intake is matched.

Mechanism Behind Keto Diet and Weight Loss

The precise mechanism of action of the ketogenic diet is unknown, although many possible explanations are proposed.

The key aspect of this diet involves the restriction of carbohydrates for fuel. To compensate for this, fatty acids convert into fuel through a process of oxidation at the mitochondrial level. In the absence of glucose in the blood, the ketone bodies β-hydroxybutyrate, acetoacetate, and acetone synthesize and cross the blood-brain barrier to provide an alternative source of energy to the brain.

There are many other theories about the mechanism of the ketogenic diet, including the increased acidity in the blood known as systemic acidosis, electrolyte changes, and hypoglycemia. However, these hypotheses have not yet been proven to be accurate.

Here’s how ketogenic diets promote weight loss

  • Elimination of Certain Foods: Limiting your carbohydrate intake also limits your food options. This noticeably reduces calorie intake, which is the key to weight loss.
  • Gluconeogenesis: Your body converts fat and proteins into fuel for energy. This process may burn many additional calories each day and aid weight loss.keto-diet-and-weight-loss
  • Suppresses Appetite: Ketogenic diets help you feel full and this supports a positive change in hunger hormones, including leptin and ghrelin.
  • Improved Insulin Sensitivity: Ketogenic diets can drastically improve insulin sensitivity, which can help improve fuel utilization and boost metabolism.
  • Increased fat burning: Ketogenic diets move the body from using glucose to using fat and rapidly increase the amount of fat you burn during rest, daily activity and exercise.
  • Decreased fat storage: Research suggests ketogenic diets may reduce lipogenesis, the process of converting sugar to fat.

It thus appears that a keto diet and weight loss can be a successful tool compared to the traditional high carbohydrate, low protein, and low-fat diets.

How to Follow a Ketogenic Diet?

Follow these basic rules while on a Keto Diet:

  • Eliminate Carbohydrates: Check food labels, and aim for 30 grams of carbohydrates or fewer per day. Avoid all cereals, grains, rice, biscuits, and potatoes.
  • Stock up on Protein Staples: Buy meat, cheese, whole eggs, nuts, oils, avocados, oily fish and cream, as these are the staples in a Ketogenic diet.
  • Eat Your Veggies: Base each of your meals on low-carb veggies to fill your plate that will help keep you feeling full. All green leafy vegetables are good to go.
  • Build a plan: It can be hard to find low-carb meals when you are on the go, so plan in advance.
  • Track Your Progress: Take photos, measurements and monitor your weight every week. If progress stops, try reducing portion sizes slightly.
  • Replace Minerals/ Try Supplements: Ketosis changes your fluid and mineral balance. For this reason, include enough salt and magnesium in your diet to manage the electrolytes. To boost the ketogenic process, you can take MCT oil (5 – 10 grams twice a day) or use coconut oil regularly.
  • Be consistent: There is no shortcut to success. With any diet, consistency is the most important factor. So be consistent.

You may also wish to monitor ketone levels in either urine or blood since these will let you know whether you are keeping carbohydrate levels sufficiently down to achieve ketosis.

Who Should Avoid A Keto Diet?

The Ketogenic diet is not an ideal path for the following conditions:

  • Kids and Children (under 18 years old).
  • People with any kind of eating disorder.
  • Any kind of Diabetics who are on hypoglycemic medication.
  • Pregnant women or lactating mothers.
  • Post-surgical cases.
  • People feeling unwell or having a fever.
  • People with digestive issues like ulcerative colitis, ulcers or indigestions.
  • During kidney stones and gallstones.
  • With a history of brain-related health issues.
  • Cancer and kidney patients.
  • Those who are already underweight or have a significant underlying medical condition should speak to their doctor first.

Keto Diet Side Effects

The more common side effects are usually not so serious. One might have constipation, mild low blood sugar, or indigestion. In a few cases, it can lead to kidney stones or high levels of acid in your body (acidosis).

Take Home Message

In order to get better results from following a ketogenic diet, you must eat high-fat foods that are good fats, and limit your carbohydrate intake to fewer than 30–50 grams per day. If you stick to it, the benefits of a ketogenic diet are extremely impressive especially in terms of weight loss. Ketogenic diets can also reduce the risk of metabolic diseases and even fight disorders like type 2 diabetes and obesity. But it is always advised to follow this diet under professional guidance only.

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