The Keto diet has gained popularity in recent years due to glowing reviews by celebrity chefs, athletes and the Hollywood crowd. Pictures of bacon wrapped cheese accompany before and after pics of people who have tried Keto and experienced incredible weight loss. This might leave you wondering if Keto really works as well as advertised. The following article will help explain the mystery of why the Keto diet appears to be so effective as well as what you can expect in terms of realistic results.
What is Keto
The first thing that you need to know is what this diet really is (because unfortunately, it’s not all bacon and cheese). At its core, the Keto diet is an ultra-low carb diet. On Keto your goal is to eat 20-25g of net carbs a day. This works out to 5-10% of your daily calories which really isn’t much. Because a lot of vegetables and fruits have high levels of carbohydrates the trick on Keto is to know how many carbs are in every item of food you’re eating so you don’t go over your daily carb limit.
The remaining calories on Keto are split between protein and carbohydrates with 20-25% of your calories coming from protein and a whopping 70-75% coming from healthy fats. The key word here is “healthy” fats since not all fats are created equally. The trans fats that are found in processed foods and the saturated fats that are found in animal products are not the ones that you should load up on while on Keto. Instead, you should focus on monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that can be found in plant-based oils, nuts and seeds.
The goal of Keto is to change your body’s metabolic state so that it uses fats to create ketones for energy as opposed to using carbs to create glucose for energy. This is accomplished by limiting the number of carbs available to a point where your body realises it cannot survive on carb rich food alone. When this happens, your body will make the switch from relying purely on glucose for energy to using ketones as its primary energy course. When your body is using ketones for energy it means you’re in the metabolic state known as ketosis.
Why would you want to switch from glucose to ketones?
There are multiple benefits of switching your metabolic state to ketosis. Glucose is a quick energy source that doesn’t take your body long to create. However, it also doesn’t take it long to burn through. This causes a cycle in both your energy levels and your blood sugar levels. Shortly after eating a high carb meal your body turns the carbs into glucose which leads to a spike in your blood sugar as well as a burst of energy. This is why your parents or coaches may have asked you to eat a high carb meal before you played sports. Unfortunately, glucose doesn’t stick around for long periods of time and you burn through it rather quickly. This means that a few hours after you eat your blood sugar levels drop and your energy levels may plummet as well.
Your body was designed to survive so it doesn’t just sit back and leave you in that state. Instead, it sends hunger signals from your brain asking for more fuel. This causes you to eat another meal and the cycle repeats itself. As your body is turning carbs into energy, something else is going on as well. Any carbohydrates that aren’t needed right away for glucose production are stored away in your body in the form of fat. This is your body’s defense against periods when there isn’t enough food for you to answer your hunger signals with a nice high carb meal. The problem is, most of us have enough food which means that you’re always feeding your body when you get hungry and you’re never turning your stored fat into fuel so it continues to accumulate.
How Keto helps you lose weight
It’s easy to see how a carb-rich diet can lead to the accumulation of body fat. The Keto diet can make it easier for you to shed these stubborn pounds by tricking your body into thinking it needs to use the body fat it stored in order to combat a food shortage. The only thing is, you’re not going to short your body of food or calories. Many people can eat the same number of calories on Keto and still lose weight because the type of calories you’re consuming changes. It doesn’t take starvation in order to allow your body to release stored body fat; all it takes is a shortage of carbohydrates.
When you keep your net carbs to 20-25g daily you’re preventing your body from running solely off of glucose. Instead, your body begins to produce ketones. Ketones are created both from your dietary fat and your stored body fat which is why it’s important to consume enough calories from fat on Keto. When your body uses stored fat in order to produce ketones, your weight is going to drop. It’s important to eat enough protein and drink enough water to ensure that the weight loss doesn’t come from water weight disappearing or muscle mass decreasing.
When done properly, Keto allows you to get rid of stored body fat that you may have had trouble reducing through exercise alone. This is because on Keto your body is literally burning your stored fat for energy. On a high-carb diet, your body will burn through all of the available carbs before you even get close to touching stored body fat. When your body is deprived of those carbs it will source its fuel directly from fat.
How Keto works to improve your mental clarity
The Keto diet has benefits that extend beyond reducing your waistline. Keto is actually fantastic for your brain! Your brain is a heavy consumer of energy and there’s times when a carb loaded diet doesn’t produce enough glucose to properly fuel this important organ. When this happens and there’s a shortage of energy your brain will shuttle fuel to the areas that need it the most (i.e. your heart or lungs) and it will selflessly sacrifice some of its function so this can happen. This can lead to brain fog and confusion. Fat is a plentiful source of energy and it may even contain more energy per unit of oxygen than glucose does. In addition, the number of mitochondria (or energy cells) in your brain an increased on a Keto diet. All of these factors contribute to a healthier brain that functions faster than your brain on glucose.
How Keto works to stabilize your blood sugar levels
There are signs that the Keto diet might be helpful for people suffering from type II diabetes. Diet is very important for diabetics and eating a high carb meal can skyrocket glucose levels and put you in a dangerous position in terms of your blood sugar levels. Because the Keto diet is so low in carbs it doesn’t cause the spikes in your blood sugar. Instead, your glucose levels remain low and steady from the glucose your body creates from protein and fatty acids.
How Keto works to improve your energy levels
After the first couple of weeks on Keto (when you may suffer from the Keto flu) you’ll probably see a dramatic increase in your energy levels. This is because your body has adapted to running off of ketones. Ketones are created from fat, and unlike carbohydrates, fat is plentiful, and we have lots to go around! This means that anytime your body needs more energy on Keto it can turn inwards to its fat stores. This prevents major disruptions in your energy levels, providing you instead with a steady supply of energy to keep you going throughout the day. This is much better than the sugar highs and lows that glucose fueled bodies experience.
How Keto works to improve your cholesterol levels and heart health
The Keto diet is also great for the health of your heart. This might seem confusing since it’s such a high-fat diet and the majority of us grew up believing that eating fat leads to heart disease. As long as you’re eating healthy fats on Keto, you’re going to actually see benefits to your heart health. Eating polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats (those founds in nuts, seeds and plant-based oils) can lead to an increase in your HDL levels (good cholesterol) as well as a decrease in your LDL levels (bad cholesterol). This can lead to an overall decrease in your cholesterol levels which in turn leads to improved heart health. These fats are also typically high in essential fatty acids such as omega 3’s and omega 6’s which have long been known to contribute to heart health.
The Keto diet has plenty of health benefits. Following the rules of Keto regarding your net carb limits can help you to lose weight, increase your energy levels, improve the health of your heart as well as stabilize your blood sugar levels. Always be sure to speak with a medical professional or your doctor before you make any major changes to your diet; especially if you have a health condition such as diabetes.