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Starting Keto Diet? Know Its Benefits And Side-effects First

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By Apollo 24|7, Published on- 06 June 2022, Updated on - 12 July 2022

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There are many fad diets in the market that promise quick and easy weight loss. But do they really work? While most of these diets may not live up to the hype, some diets such as the ketogenic diet have proven effective in aiding weight loss. Moreover, the diet is also associated with several benefits for overall health. The article explores these benefits in detail below. 

How Does Keto Diet Work? 

The keto diet works by restricting the intake of carbohydrates (carbs), the primary source of energy for the body. An average keto diet involves reducing the carb intake to not more than 50 grams a day. Once your body runs out of carbs, it enters a metabolic state known as ketosis. This metabolic state allows the body to use fat for energy. During ketosis, your liver starts breaking down fat and releases ketones (the by-products of ketosis), which are used by the body for energy purposes. According to research, ketones also suppress appetite naturally, which may help support weight loss. 

Is The Keto Diet Similar To Atkins Diet?

The Keto diet is noted for its similarity to the Atkins diet, which is another popular low-carb diet. While both diets work pretty much the same way, there are two key differences between the two:

  • The Atkins diet involves slowly increasing the consumption of carbohydrates. However, the intake of carbs continues to remain low throughout the keto diet. 
  • The Keto diet limits the intake of protein to 20% of your daily calories. This is not the case in the Atkins diet.

What Are The Health Benefits Of The Keto Diet? 

Scientifically proven health benefits of the keto diet are:

1. Aids weight loss

The ketogenic diet may help support weight loss by boosting metabolism and suppressing appetite. A review study showed that the keto diet is slightly more effective than low-fat diets for long-term weight loss. It further found that people following a keto diet on an average lost approximately 1 kg more than those on a low-fat diet. 

weight loss

2. Helps in diabetes management

A keto diet can help lower blood glucose levels, improve insulin sensitivity, and support fat loss. All these factors can help improve health outcomes for people with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. It has been found that a keto diet can help improve insulin sensitivity by 75% and reduce the levels of HbA1C. A study showed that people with diabetes lose an average of 12kg over a two year period while following a keto diet. 

3. Improves epilepsy management

Keto diets have been used to control seizures caused by epilepsy since the 1920s. According to the Epilepsy Foundation, ketosis can help reduce the incidence of seizures in people with epilepsy, especially in children. 

4. Prevents heart diseases 

A review of animal and human studies has also found a strong correlation between the keto diet and a decline in the total cholesterol, LDL (low-density lipoprotein) or ‘bad’ cholesterol, and triglycerides, all of which are factors involved in the development of heart disease. 

5. Lowers the risk of brain-related conditions 

There is some evidence that following a keto diet may help reduce the risk of brain-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and Parkinson’s Disease. While the reason is not clear, it is believed that ketones may protect the brain cells from damage. 

Foods to Eat in a Keto Diet 

People following the keto diet can consume the following foods: 

  • Meat
  • Fatty fish 
  • Whole eggs
  • Butter and high-fat cream
  • Unprocessed cheese
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Healthy oils such as extra virgin olive oil and canola oil
  • Whole avocados
  • Low carb veggies such as broccoli, tomatoes, onions, peppers, etc.

keto_foods

Side Effects of Keto Diet

Despite its several health benefits, the keto diet has its share of side effects. Following the diet for extended periods of time can increase the risk of some health problems including: 

  • Kidney stones

kidney_stones

  • Accumulation of fat in the liver
  • Deficiency of essential nutrients such as folate, biotin, iodine, and vitamins A, E, and D
  • Hyperproteinemia (high levels of protein in the blood)

Many people following the keto diet also complain of “keto flu”, a condition characterised by symptoms such as fatigue, headache, irritability, bad breath, nausea, vomiting, constipation, and diarrhoea. Health experts say that pregnant women, insulin-dependent diabetics, people with eating disorders, and those with medical conditions such as kidney disease and pancreatitis should not follow the keto diet. 

The keto diet is a popular diet that focuses on the intake of healthy fats and proteins while curbing the consumption of carbohydrates. It works by putting the body in ketosis, a metabolic state that triggers the liver to break down fat for energy. The diet has been linked to several health benefits including weight loss, improved blood glucose levels, reduced risk of heart disease, etc. However, it can also lead to some side effects. Those who wish to follow the keto diet for health benefits should consult a dietician to evaluate the pros and cons.

Consult a Dietician Now

Medically reviewed by Dr Sonia Bhatt.

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