Ketogenic Diet: Is it Worth a Shot?
Towards the fall of 2016, popular stand-up comedian and AIB cofounder Tanmay Bhatt left the world in shock and awe. He confessed on Twitter that he had managed to reach his lowest weight in over half a decade. He had shed a whopping 109 kilos in 19 months. Tanmay obviously had to endure an arduous work out regime. However, the real secret behind the immense success of his weight loss plan was his effective shift to a ketogenic diet or keto diet, as it is commonly called.
So, what is a ketogenic diet? Why are more and more people all over the world adopting it? What are the merits and potential pitfalls of a ketogenic diet and most importantly, should you adopt it too? Read on and find out!
So, What’s A Ketogenic Diet?
Very simply put, a ketogenic diet plan is a high fat (70%-90% of total diet), low carbohydrate (less than 20g/day) diet plan which forces your body to be in a perpetual state of ketosis.
What Is Ketosis and Why Should I Care?
Carbohydrates are our body’s default source of energy. Carbohydrates are a macromolecule class which is formed by chemical aggregation of millions of sugar units. Among sugars, glucose happens to be our body’s favourite. As a matter of fact, much of our biochemistry is designed and adapted to efficiently metabolize glucose and obtain energy.
Your body uses up its glucose reserves during periods of starvation or heavy exercise. Since the body needs a constant supply of energy to function, it turns to its fat reserves. Lipids or fats are stored in various parts of your body. Your body mobilizes these reserves and dispatches them to your liver. The liver breaks them down into ketone bodies and releases them into the bloodstream.
The cells of your body pick them up from here and use them to produce energy. We call this biological process ketosis. The body resorts to ketosis when you’re on a low carbohydrate diet which is precisely what a ketogenic diet is.
But, What’s the Point?
Ketogenic diets have a variety of health benefits attached to them. We have listed some of them below.
There is strong scientific evidence that the use of ketogenic diets in weight-loss is highly effective. Nutrition experts and doctors often recommended this diet plan to obese or morbidly obese individuals for rapid and effective weight reduction. Since your body is capitalizing on fats to meet its energy demands, you end up rapidly burning fat and losing weight even though you’re consuming a high-fat diet.
Decreased Oxidative Stress
Oxidative stress causes molecular level damage to our body and is one of the prime reasons behind ageing, age-related diseases and even cancer! There is, however, a body of evidence that suggests that individuals following a ketogenic diet experience decreased oxidative stress.
Better Blood Sugar Management for Diabetics
Some studies suggest that a ketogenic diet helps type 2 diabetes patients improve blood sugar concentrations allowing them to reduce their dependence on medications.
Many of the individuals who’ve migrated to ketogenic diets from standard carbohydrate-based diets have reported enhanced focus, attention, and memory performance. Some studies have shown that an increased intake of fatty acids can positively impact our brain’s function.
To know more about the benefits to migrating to a ketogenic diet, click here.
Keto Diets Can’t Be All Good, Can It?
In spite of the positive attributes, a ketogenic diet has its own challenges and drawbacks. Some of the issues plaguing a ketogenic diet are as follows.
The Adaptation Process
You will probably feel some discomfort such as fatigue, headache, nausea, dehydration and cramps for a couple of weeks after you’ve made the transition to a ketogenic diet. This is because your body’s biochemistry is basically rewiring itself so that it can effectively handle a ketogenic diet.
The increased consumption of fats associated with a ketogenic diet can lead to elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels which can lead to a variety of complications including inflammation of the pancreas (also called pancreatitis).
The dietary restrictions associated with low carbohydrate diets often result in reduced consumption of some crucial vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre. This consequently results in several deficiency diseases and serious health complications including cardiovascular diseases.
In the end, we still don’t know the deeper cellular and biochemical workings of a ketogenic diet. Although ketogenic diets can help us meet our short-term weight loss goals, we require more research to conclusively understand the long-term effects of a ketogenic diet. Harvard Medical School’s health blog also reminds us that diets that lead to rapid weight loss fluctuation are associated with increased mortality.
Feel that the keto diet is worth a shot? Great. Tell how you intend to get started in the comments section below.
Don’t want to take the plunge right about now? That’s cool. You might find some of our other articles on healthy diets interesting. Read the one about low-fat diets.