We all wish to lose those extra kilos and fat in a drastic way, so we tend to follow different types of diets, diets that will eventually have an expiry date. But the results are fabulous to even care about the date, lack of vitamins and energy or even health conditions.
Here I’m gonna highlight the Ketogenic diet, or “keto-diet”, as I’m getting asked a lot about it, the diet that became a trend among people looking for quick and dramatic weight loss. So the ketogenic diet is a special high-fat, low-carbs diet, that was first used to treat kids with epilepsy.
Eating keto is actually getting about 75% of calories from fat, 20% from proteins, and <5% from carbs, so it’s a powerful way to lower your body fat and sharpen your brain. So what you can eat is meat, eggs and dairy, cheese, oils (even coconut oil), nuts and seeds, avocado, green leaves, whipped cream, full fat mayo, berries. And regarding the drinks, only diet sodas and unsweetened tea and coffee are allowed.
It’s quite close to the “Atkins diet” with the only difference is that Atkins needs a slowly increase in carbs until you reach the right amount for you, while the Keto doesn’t have an increase in carbs period.
First let’s understand the Ketosis concept:
Ketosis happens either when carbohydrate intake is very low, such as the ketogenic diet, or when you haven’t eaten for a long time.. So the body and brain use ketones for fuel instead of carbs, and that’s how the fat loss process happens. So fat is the primary source of energy instead of Glucose. Ketone bodies will eventually make you eat less, this is where the total daily calorie intake becomes less.
Your body needs almost a few days to adapt to this ketosis phase, and a set of symptoms may occur during the inital stages like headache, fatigue, nausea, indigestion, poor sleep, bad breath and muscle cramps (coz reduction in water weight highly occurs). So to minimize those side effects you should drink plenty of water, increase your sodium intake and avoid intense exercises.
How healthy is this diet?
Actually, a high fat diet is healthier for you, but only when carbohydrates consumption is kept low. In most cases, a diet high in clean saturated and monounsaturated fats and low in carbohydrates raises your HDL (good cholesterol) and lowers your triglycerides. These two factors are really the true measure of good heart health. It also all depends on what kind of fats you consume . You have to avoid trans fats and processed fats of any kind. Try to make your daily plan rich in a variety of food (meat, chicken, fish, vegetables, yogurt, nuts, healthy oils), to avoid any lack of nutrients.
This diet is also beneficial for type 2 diabetic people, as it improves glucose blood levels and reduces the need for insulin.
Only people with kidney problems need to be alert and make sure they discuss any diet changes with their doctor.
Type 1 diabetic people and pregnant women should not follow this diet at all.
Does a keto diet affect your exercise performance?
This diet will not interfere to your performance when it comes to strength exercises, weight lifting or using the HIIT technique (high intensity interval training) which unlike prolonged cardio training, will help you burn more calories without increasing your appetite. Moderate cardio such as walking or light cycling will also beneficial when adopting this diet.
The only real time where ketosis can affect your performance is in exercises that require competition and high energy where you need carbs to boost your performance.
Personnally, I think that this diet is hard to be followed specially in the Middle East, where carbs and good treats play a big role in our daily life.
Plus I believe that any diet that cannot be followed for a lifetime cannot be called a “healthy diet”. Any forbidden food on the long run will make us crave for it suddenly. This is the human mental and physical reaction to anything forbidden.
Those diets that feel “too good to be true” will also affect our metabolism on the long run, specially when the “carbs reintroduction phase”, when reaching our target weight was made in an inappropriate way.
So for those who wish to lose weight quickly, I prefer more the carbs cycling diet that says eating a high protein diet for 3 days, followed by a high carbs diet for a full day.. It will also give you great results with no deprivation.
While the best approach will always be: Eat everything in moderation while taking into consideration food quality and quantity, even if weigh loss may take a longer time.. This is what I call the “healthy lifestyle” 🙂