Keto Diet

Keto Diet: Great Benefits and Serious Risks

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Updated on January 12, 2024

The keto diet consists mainly of foods rich in fat, as the fat percentage may reach approximately 90% of the calories consumed during the day. The keto diet is not one of the diets that can be tried, as it forces the body to use Ketone, one of the types of energy that is produced from stored fat in the liver, instead of relying on the natural source of energy, glucose.

Because this system is very high in fats, it allows eating healthy unsaturated fats, such as nuts, seeds, and olive oil, alongside saturated fats, found in palm oil, lard, butter, and cocoa butter. This diet requires avoiding eating foods rich in carbohydrates and their sources, such as starchy vegetables and fruits, and including protein sources, whether low or high in fat.

Why Follow a Ketogenic Diet?

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fresh green salad with grilled chicken fillet, spinach, tomatoes, avocado, lemon and black sesame seeds

The ketogenic diet has gained a high rate of popularity recently, especially after the good results it has been able to achieve among those wishing to lose weight.

The keto diet can be defined as a diet that relies on reducing the amount of carbohydrates and relying primarily on fats to direct the body to use them as a primary energy source, which stimulates burning fats with significantly greater efficiency.

It should be noted that the keto diet was initially designed to treat people who suffer from epileptic seizures in 1921. It helps the body produce ketones and beta-hydroxybutyrate, which can reduce seizures. However, people who underwent the keto diet also lost weight within a short time, drawing attention to this type of diet.

Some argue that the keto diet is similar to the Atkins and low-carb diets. One of the basics of this diet is significantly reducing carbohydrates and replacing them with fats, which puts the body in a metabolic state known as ketosis. In such cases, the body becomes significantly efficient at burning fat for energy. It also converts fats into ketones in the liver, which can provide the brain with energy.

The keto diet is usually followed with the aim of losing weight or for some diseases. Still, it should be noted that this diet should be followed for a short period only. It is not preferable to adopt it for life, especially since it is one of the most restrictive diets that prevents obtaining carbohydrate sources necessary for the human body.

It should be noted that some side effects, such as constipation, low blood sugar, and indigestion, may accompany it. It is not suitable for everyone, so it is recommended to consult a doctor or a nutritionist before following it.

What Is Ketosis?

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Keto Diet

In this metabolic state, fat is the body’s primary energy source instead of carbs. This occurs when you dramatically cut back on carbohydrates, which restricts your body’s ability to produce glucose, the primary fuel for cells.

The best method to enter ketosis is to follow a ketogenic diet. In general, this entails reducing daily carbohydrate intake to 20 to 50 grammes and consuming fats from foods like meat, fish, eggs, nuts, and healthy oils.

You should moderate your protein consumption as well. This is due to the fact that eating a lot of protein can cause it to be turned into glucose, which can delay entering ketosis.

Symptoms of Entering Ketosis

Blood, urine, and breath tests help determine if you have entered ketosis by measuring the amount of ketones your body is producing. Some symptoms also indicate entering this condition, such as increased thirst, dry mouth, frequent urination, and decreased hunger or appetite.

Types of the Ketogenic Diet

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Ketogenic low carbs diet

The ketogenic diet consists of several types, but the most common system is the model one, and most of the systems are similar in several principles. The most important types of the ketogenic diet are:

  1. Typical ketogenic diet: This diet is characterised by its low percentage of carbohydrates, moderate percentage of protein, and high percentage of fat. The daily needs are usually distributed to 75% of fat, 25% of protein, and 7% of carbohydrates.
  2. Cyclic ketogenic diet: This diet includes increasing the proportion of carbohydrate intake for specific periods, such as following the ketogenic diet for five days and then following a diet with a high carbohydrate content for two days.
  3. Targeted ketogenic diet: This system allows for the consumption of carbohydrates when exercising, and it is the most advanced system used primarily by athletes and bodybuilders.
  4. High-protein ketogenic diet: Similar to the typical ketogenic diet, it includes a higher percentage of protein, which is often 30% protein, 65% fat, and 7% carbohydrates.

What Is the Difference between the Keto Diet and Intermittent Fasting?

Keto DietIntermittent Fasting
Based on determining the type of food consumed Based on determining the permissible period of eating
Helps lose weight by training the body to burn fat, not glucose, to obtain energyHelps lose weight by reducing the percentage of calories consumed daily and training the body to burn stored fat

Which Diet Is Best for Weight Loss, between Keto and Intermittent Fasting?

Specialists indicate that both of these diets help in significant weight loss. Choosing the best diet varies according to each person. It is determined according to the body’s ability to tolerate the basic rule of the diet, whether it is fasting for a long time or abstaining from eating carbohydrates. Therefore, it is vital to consult a nutritionist or a doctor before resorting to the keto diet or intermittent fasting.

Studies have found that combining the two diets together contributes to effective and rapid weight loss. This is done by intermittent fasting from food while eating foods based only on fats and proteins for the remaining time. However, you must consider that all bodies cannot tolerate this method and may carry many risks for a specific category of people. Hence, you must also consult a specialist before resorting to it.

When Does Weight Loss Start on Keto?

The keto diet is the required method to help control body weight. If you are on the ketogenic diet to lose weight, realising that this process takes time is essential. No matter how you look, to reduce body fat, results will only happen after a while. Whether you’re on keto or another diet that puts you in a calorie deficit, it can take one to several weeks to start seeing results.

In general, you’ll need to stick to a calorie deficit of about 450–500 calories per day. At this rate, you should start noticing significant weight loss after 10 to 21 days. Some may achieve their weight loss goals sooner, while others may take a little longer. Remember that water weight is often the first thing the body excretes in the first week when carbohydrate grammes are restricted, as 3 grammes of water are stored for every 1 gramme of carbohydrate.

This is why the scale may give you an inaccurate perception of how much weight is lost. It also means that when carbohydrates are introduced into the diet again, the water weight will return with it, which is entirely normal and healthy.

How Much Weight Can You Lose on the Keto Diet?

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Weigh Loss Plan

This can be a variation from one person to another, but generally speaking, here is a time frame:

During the First Two Weeks

As mentioned previously, the keto diet is deficient in carbohydrates; it contains only about 50 grammes of carbohydrates, and thus, it often leads to good weight loss in the first weeks because of the absence of carbohydrates in the body, leading it to resort to consuming carbohydrates stored in the body, which are in the form of glycogen, as glycogen is always linked with water.

Thus, its consumption leads to the release of water and its exit from the body, which theoretically reflects a significant weight loss in the first weeks. Although there may be a slight loss of fat at this stage, the most significant percentage is water.

This decline may encourage continued weight loss, but you must consider that it only occurs at the beginning. Weight loss during the first two weeks following this diet ranges from 0.9 to 4.5 kilograms and varies from person to person, depending on the initial body weight.

After the First Two Weeks

After the first week or two, weight loss becomes slower. It is often 0.25 to 1 kilogram per week, which is the healthy rate of weight loss. This may be surprising to dieters, although studies indicate that this diet helps in losing weight faster. Compared to traditional weight loss diets, they help reduce appetite; however, over time, the results become similar to the results of other weight loss diets.

Tips to Reduce the Harms of the Keto Diet

This diet may be safe in the short term, but over time, symptoms and side effects may appear following it, as well as long-term health damage, so you should note that you  can use some tips to make this diet healthier and reduce its harm, among these tips are the following:

  1. Make sure to consume sufficient amounts of vitamins and minerals to avoid nutrient deficiencies.
  2. Choose sources of healthy fats, such as olive oil, avocado, and fish oil, in addition to staying away from sources of unhealthy fats, such as fast food.
  3. Stay away from processed foods that contain saturated fats.
  4. Begin introducing carbohydrates gradually after achieving the weight loss goal.

Benefits of the Ketogenic Diet

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Keto Diet

This diet has several benefits when used for certain conditions, although following it may entail several health risks. The most important benefits of the ketogenic diet are as follows:

  • Keto diet for diabetics: Alterations in metabolism, elevated blood sugar levels, and reduced insulin are symptoms of diabetes. The excess body fat that is strongly associated with type 2 diabetes can be lost with the help of this diet. One older study found that the keto diet improved insulin sensitivity by a whopping 75%, and that the 90-day ketogenic diet by women with diabetes significantly reduced levels of haemoglobin A1C, a measure of blood sugar management.
  • Heart disease: The body fat percentage, HDL cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels that are risk factors for heart disease can all be lowered with this diet.
  • Alzheimer: The ketogenic diet may lessen Alzheimer’s disease symptoms and halt the disease’s progression.
  • Epilepsy: Research has shown that this diet can cause a significant reduction in seizures in children with epilepsy.
  • Cancer: This regimen is currently being explored in slowing tumour growth as an additional treatment for cancer.
  • Parkinson’s: Although more research is needed, one study found that the ketogenic diet helped improve symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome: Keto can help reduce insulin levels, which may play a major role in PCOS.
  • Brain injuries: This diet can improve outcomes for traumatic brain injury.

Harmful Effects of the Keto Diet

As for the risks of following the ketogenic diet, we mention the following:

Muscle Mass Loss

Despite the widespread use of keto diets that are high in fat and low in carbohydrates, they are actually harmful to the body. It leads to a person losing muscle mass even if he or she continues to practice strength sports because protein alone is less effective in building muscle than protein in the presence of carbohydrates when eating them together after exercise.

In addition, it was noted in one study that people who followed other diets lost weight and the same amount of fat as people who followed this diet within three months, but those who followed this diet lost more muscle mass in their legs. You should note that the loss of muscle mass has negative and serious effects in the long term as the person ages.

Excessive Ketones in the Body

Keto diets significantly reduce the amount of carbohydrates consumed, thus enhancing fat-burning processes that cause excessive ketosis in the body, forcing cells to take their energy from ketones instead of glucose. When the levels of ketones in the body rise, they cause an increase in the acidity of the blood as an acidic substance, which causes a condition called Ketoacidosis, a serious condition and may be fatal.

Short-Termed Effectiveness

Although following the keto diet causes rapid weight loss, the weight that a person loses is likely to come back quickly as well. You should also note that the large weight that a person loses at the beginning of this diet is often due to the loss of water mass only. It also makes the person feel extremely tired as a result of their loss of muscle mass and threatens the heart as a muscle as well.

In addition, it puts the person in a state of constant hunger, which makes things more difficult, especially after they finish the diet and then return to their previous weight. For these reasons, you should only use it under the supervision of specialists.

Kidney Stress

The formation of kidney stones is one of the most visible symptoms of the keto diet, as a large amount of meat and proteins increases the acidity levels in the urine and raises the levels of calcium and uric acid in it, and their presence together may increase the risk of developing kidney stones. In addition, uric acid is a major cause of gout.

  • Consuming a large amount of both types of fats is proven to be unhealthy.
  • Cardiovascular disease risk is increased, especially for those with type 2 diabetes.
  • The high percentage of saturated fats in this diet may lead to a rise in LDL.
  • Medical advice must be taken before starting to follow this system, as it does not contain all food groups, such as whole grains, dairy products, fruits, and a large amount of vegetables.

Foods to Eat in a Keto Diet

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Meals on the keto diet should be based on:

  1. Meat: red meat, sausage, and turkey.
  2. Fish: salmon, trout, tuna, and mackerel.
  3. Eggs: Whole eggs or omega-3 eggs
  4. Butter and Cream: Grass-fed butter and heavy cream.
  5. Cheese: Unprocessed cheeses such as cheddar, goat, cream, or mozzarella.
  6. Nuts: almonds, walnuts, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, and chia seeds.
  7. Healthy oils: olive oil and avocado oil.
  8. Avocado: Fresh avocado or guacamole.
  9. Low-carb vegetables: green vegetables, tomatoes, onions, peppers, etc.
  10. Spices: salt, pepper and herbs.

Foods to Avoid in a Keto Diet

You should limit the intake of any food that contains a high percentage of carbohydrates. Like:

  1. Sugary foods: soda, juice, cake, ice cream, candy, etc.
  2. Grains or starches: wheat-based products, rice, pasta, cereals, etc.
  3. Fruit: All fruit, except for strawberries.
  4. Beans or legumes: peas, beans, lentils, chickpeas, etc.
  5. Vegetables: potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, etc.
  6. Low-fat products: low-fat mayonnaise and salad dressings.
  7. Condiments or sauces: BBQ, honey mustard, teriyaki, ketchup, etc.
  8. Alcohol.

Finally, sustaining a healthy lifestyle is a more important factor than short-term weight loss results. Although it comes with some risk factors for those who may be sensitive to fat, the keto diet is the preferred option for many who feel it offers a more accessible approach to eating.

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