With its rise in popularity, chances are you know someone who has tried the ketogenic diet or have at least heard about it through other sources. But what exactly is a ketogenic diet and is it something that would benefit you in your health and fitness goals?
Simply put, a ketogenic diet relies heavily on fat intake while greatly diminishing the presence of carbohydrates in your diet. Typically, you would ingest around 60-75% of your daily calories from fat sources, 15-30% from protein, and a low range of carbohydrates at 5-10%. Many people familiar with a ketogenic diet follow a 4:1 plan, with 4 fat calories to every 1 carb. With increased fat intake your body would go into a state of ketosis, which is a metabolic state where your body begins burning ketones for energy. Ketones are byproducts of your body breaking down fat which occurs when glucose levels are low (and as glucose is a byproduct of carbohydrate breakdown, on a ketogenic diet you would have very little glucose to burn).
But carbs are so good, you think. Why would anyone choose to go without bread, sweets, and pizza? For many, the benefits of a ketogenic diet greatly outweigh their love of carbs. And here’s why:
1. A Boost in Metabolism
By living in a state of ketosis, your body is constantly burning ketones as there aren’t available sources of glucose from a high level of carbohydrate consumption. Depleted glucose levels mean lowered blood sugar and insulin resistance. This change in fuel sources actually boosts your metabolism while reducing your cravings. You’ll feel energized throughout the day, leaving those mid-afternoon slumps far behind.
2. Weight Loss
With increased metabolic activity and decreased cravings, weight loss is a natural result. This is a huge benefit that draws many eager people looking to jumpstart a healthy lifestyle into trying the ketogenic diet.
3. Lower Cholesterol
If you have recently visited your doctor and been told you have high cholesterol levels, he may have suggested trying a ketogenic diet rather than taking prescription drugs to manage or negate the issue. A body that runs on ketones maintains a lower cholesterol level, and as your body works harder to produce the energy your body needs the blood lipid level increases.
4. Improved Brain Function
With less food cravings and a greater energy level produced by ketones (which are 25% greater energy producers than glucose), your brain will reap the benefits of your body feeling satiated and alive. This leads to greater cognitive functioning, an increase in focus and mental clarity, and a decrease in memory loss. A keto diet plan may greatly benefit someone in a highly creative job or one requiring a high level of focus and drive.
5. Helps to Fight Disease
Ketogenic diets were originally created to help decrease the effects of epilepsy in children and are still used today for that purpose. But it also has other disease-fighting benefits. For those suffering from Type II Diabetes, a ketogenic diet can provide significant results in one’s health. By lowering insulin resistance and reducing glucose, sugar levels remain low. Many former sufferers of Type II Diabetes have seen great results after following a strict ketogenic diet and no longer claim the disease.
6. Better Skin
A common occurrence for those on a ketogenic diet is an improved complexion. A reduction of inflammation throughout the body helps in this regard, and studies have found that a diet high in carbs can greatly affect the presence of acne. If you have long suffered from complexion issues, a ketogenic diet may be something to look into.
7. Getting Results When Your Fitness Routine Plateaus
Many focused fitness junkies use a ketogenic diet to see greater results from their current workout program. A diet high in fat and low in carbs tends to create a leaner body. Core-strengthening routines benefit greatly by promoting muscle growth on fewer calories, decreasing the bulk that a diet high in carbs may cause.
While the benefits are enticing, some may wonder what exactly one following a ketogenic diet consumes in a day. Avoiding grains, fruits, and sweets may seem difficult at first and eliminate a lot of familiar foods in many people’s normal meal plans. Cutting out bread, pasta, cereal, and fruit smoothies can be a shock to any foodie’s lifestyle and habits. However, that doesn’t mean that the food consumed on a ketogenic diet isn’t appealing.
Higher fat sources and moderate protein intake mean eating foods like eggs, salmon, steak, avocados, bacon, butter, and plenty of leafy, green vegetables. Nuts and oils are also beneficial foods on a ketogenic diet.
There are plenty of cookbooks available that focus solely on providing delicious meals and snacks for people following a ketogenic diet, making the implementation of a ketogenic diet easier and the possibility of success more attainable.
Amanda Maurois. Proud mompreneur, graphic designer and blogger
who loves to write about healthy lifestyle, entrepreneurship,
time management and more. She is a lead writer at HowTonight.com