What is a Keto Diet and Is It Safe ?

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The keto diet isn’t new, despite all the hype surrounding it lately. In fact, doctors prescribed the keto diet for around 100 years in medicine for treating drug-resistant epilepsy, mostly in kids, reports Harvard Health Publishing. Some individuals applaud the low-carb, high-fat diet for its role in helping them lose weight and providing them with all day long energy. Others say it’s allowed them to take control of their bodies.

So, what exactly is the keto diet and is it healthy and safe?

What is the Keto Diet?

The keto diet, also called the ketogenic diet, is a low carb diet where your body creates ketones in your liver that it uses as energy. Essentially, a keto diet is kind of like starving the body so it goes into a metabolic state known as ketosis.

The ketogenic diet involves consuming very little carbs, moderate protein and using fats to get most of your everyday kilojoules. Your body prefers carbohydrates as its source of energy. But, when you starve your body of carbohydrates, it produces ketones in the liver from stored fat and uses these ketones as fuel for your body and brain. When you lower your body’s intake of carbohydrates, you are actually inducing your body into the ketosis state.

Once your body reaches this state, most of the cells in your body will use ketones to produce energy until you start adding carbs back into your body again. It generally takes over two to four days of eating 50 grams or less of carbs a day for your body to shift into using energy from broken-down stored fat rather than circulating glucose.

What Do You Eat on the Keto Diet?

Basically, you eat lots of fat — high-fat.

When on the keto diet, you should be eating a ratio of around three to four grams of fat for each one gram of protein and carbs. This would translate into you using fat to get around 80 percent of your daily calorie intake.

You eat foods like mayonnaise, butter, oil and heavy whipping cream on this diet. Your menu for one day could look something like this:

  • Morning breakfast — Olive oil laced eggs with avocado

  • Afternoon lunch — Salmon, olive oil, nuts and leafy greens

  • Evening dinner — Steak, vegetables and oil and greens

You need to have a careful ratio of protein/carbs to fat to adhere to this strict diet. You want to avoid carbohydrates like pasta, bread, sweets and grains.

Safety of the Keto Diet

Certain studies show the keto diet is safe for people who are obese or overweight. One study shows a long-term keto diet has beneficial effects. Participants of the study were able to reduce their body mass index and body weight significantly on the diet. Additionally, it reduced their blood glucose levels, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, but increased their HDL cholesterol level. The patients didn’t experience any substantial side effects either due to sticking to this diet long term.

There are experts, however, that say people should go on the Keto diet only under the guidance of a clinical professional and only for short periods of time. They also say the diet should be considered only for extreme cases. What they do recommend is to respect food since it nourishes you and helps you stay healthy. Keep it in perspective. Basically, when it comes to long-term weight loss, there’s no magical remedy. Usually slow and steady wins the race.

A healthy weight loss approach is to set realistic goals for yourself and consider if your diet plan consists of the following:

  • An exercise routine

  • A plan for long-term

  • A plan that allows you to meet long-term health goals

Answering no to any of these could be a warning signal.

You want to be healthy and fit in the long term? Exercise regularly and replace refined carbs with vegetables, fresh fruits and lean proteins. You’ll also want to avoid a lot of additives and cut down on processed foods. It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before starting a new diet.

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