The keto diet is so popular. But you may ask, “how does keto diet work?”
Keto claims to increase your energy, boost brainpower and make you look fitter. But is keto a scam?
if you google keto, you can see a large amount of conflicting information about keto.
Many people give up because of the confusing carb-counting and unpleasant side effects. Or they don’t see any results after following a false plan for weeks.
In this article, I’m going to cover the following to tell you how keto diet works and its health benefits:
- How does keto diet work?
- Weight loss is just one of the many benefits of keto
- Learn what to eat and what to avoid
- Plan for keto success
- Keto and Fasting can work together for optimal results
- A keto plan isn’t one-size-fits-all
- Men and women are likely to see different results with keto
- Keto is a lifestyle
- Final Thoughts: Is Keto a Scam?
How Does Keto Diet Work?
There are many low-carb diet options but Keto stands out.
Ketogenic diet is low-carb but high in proteins and healthy fats. There is a major difference between Keto diets and other kinds of diets. Keto diet is the only diet that allows your body to enter the metabolic state, which is known as ketosis.
If you don’t know what ketosis is, let me explain to you.
Ketosis occurs when your body doesn’t have sufficient glucose. After carbohydrates are broken down into glucose, glucose will go into the bloodstream as blood sugar, which provides energy for you.
Without storage of glucose for your body to convert into energy, your pancreas will produce a hormone called glucagon, which will release your stored fat into the bloodstream and give you energy instead.
That’s the reason why keto diet can help you lose weight.
However, the problem is glucagon will only give energy to your body, not your brain. So there is a common side effect of “brain fog”.
To solve this problem, you need Ketones. When your body enters ketosis, the liver will produce a chemical called ketones. Ketones will enter the bloodstream in the form of energy-giving acids. Unlike glucagon, it can deliver energy to your brain.
The keto diet recommends you to consume a higher proportion of healthy fats because these fats are important to provide nutritional support the liver needs in order to produce ketones.
That way, your body can enter a healthy and sustainable ketosis, leading to weight loss.
Weight Loss is Just One of the Many Benefits of Keto
If you tried any diets before, you might be able to lose weight after weeks, but you don’t feel great. Because you feel tired, irritable and hungry.
However for keto, the longer you do it, the better you will feel.
The reason is that the invention of the Keto diet by Dr. Russell Morse Wilder was not intended to be solely a weight-loss program. It was actually a therapeutic dietary regime for treating insulin resistance.
Insulin is a hormone released by the pancreas. It can help convert glucose into blood sugar. Insulin also signals for cells to absorb blood sugar in order to produce energy.
When there is enough blood sugar for the body, insulin will divert the excess to be stored as fat.
If you have high levels of insulin in your bloodstream, it can cause a problem of insulin resistance. By then, your body will be less responsive to insulin. This can lead to diabetes and chronic inflammation.
Moreover, insulin resistance will make your body’s processing of glucose in carbs inefficient.
This inefficiency will lead to spikes and crashes in blood sugar. Blood sugar crashes will then cause hunger pangs. As a result, you will eat more carbs, worsening the situation.
On keto, you limit the amount of glucose in your bloodstream. Keto foods release energy slowly.
In ketosis, your body will tap into stored fats to get energy instead of giving you signals to eat more food. That’s the reason why keto diet can give you more energy but few hunger pangs.
Keto diet can also enhance your mental energy. Because ketones produced by the liver is the brain’s preferred energy source. However ketones can only be released when your body is in ketosis.
Another benefit of keto diet is improving your mood. Why? Because eating non-keto foods can cause inflammation and hurt your gut health.
Neurotransmitters that regulate mood actually live in your gut. Therefore, the keto diet can enhance your mood by promoting gut health.
There are many other benefits of keto diets such as improving your immune system, enhancing your hormone production and boosting quality of sleep etc.
Learn What to Eat and What to Avoid
Keto diet is high in proteins. It’s important to get proteins from a variety of sources such as pork, beef, poultry, eggs, seafood and offal.
Fats are as important as proteins in keto diet. Oils are the key source of fats. The most keto-friendly oils are rich in fatty acids such as coconut oil, avocado oil or olive oil.
When cooking the oils, make sure not to heat it past the smoking point, otherwise the good acids will oxidize and lose nutritional value.
As for vegetables, you go with the leafier and greener. You have to be careful of the carb content of veggies. Tomatoes and onions are high-carb and should only be eaten occasionally.
Also, while brazil nuts and almonds are great low-carbs, other nuts can be high in carbohydrates.
Remember, it’s not enough to simply cut out carbs and eat more fats and proteins. You should always choose high-quality and nutrient-dense foods.
If you stick to a strict keto diet, you need to cut down on carbohydrates and processed sugar as well as inflammatory vegetable oils like canola.
You should not eat too much fruit as they are high in fructose. Fructose can only be broken down in the liver. So if your liver is too busy breaking fructose, it will be able to produce ketones. That means your keto diet will become ineffective.
Plan for Keto Success
The first few weeks of keto diet can be challenging.
It can be overwhelming to do grocery shipping for preparing your keto diets. You should do prior planning and map out the meals to cook.
Planning a keto meal is not difficult. On a plate, 40% should be taken up by a high-quality protein, 10% should be taken up by fats, and the remaining 50% should be salad and low-carb vegetables.
One important thing to note is that going keto doesn’t mean no-carb, but low-carb. Eating between 20 to 30 grams of carbohydrates daily is perfect. Just don’t eat more than 30 grams of carbs, otherwise your body cannot enter ketosis.
Once you enter keto, your body will adapt to ketosis in 3 states.
The first stage is ketogenesis, which is glucose withdrawal. This stage will start in one or two hours.
The second stage is ketosis, which will occur in 2 to 4 days. At this stage, you will feel unpleasant, such as fatigue, brain fog and dehydration.
But these side effects are just temporary. It is just because your insulin levels decrease and your kidneys are producing less water temporarily.
However, there are positive side effects when you are in ketosis. Your metabolism speeds up and your body will start to convert stored fats into energy. Your liver will also produce ketones.
Finally, you will move on to become keto-adapted in 2 to 8 weeks. At this stage, you will no longer have the ketosis’s initial negative side-effects.
To adapt to ketosis can be a challenge. To reduce the negative side effects of ketosis, you should have plenty of time for sleep. This can help reduce fatigue.
And to combat dehydration, you should drink a lot of water and supercharge your electrolyte intake by getting potassium or magnesium supplements.
Exogenous ketone are supplements that can boost your level of ketones, which will keep you fit and energized.
Keto and Fasting Can Work Together for Optimal Results
You can combine fasting with keto for even greater health benefits. Fasting is to abstain from food for a set time.
In ancient times, our ancestors did fasting routinely when food was not available. When we fast, our bodies will adapt and use alternative energy sources like stored fats to survive.
When you limit the fuel you ingest, your body will adapt by finding fuel from other sources and function in a more energy-efficient mode.
You will experience hormesis where stored energy is activated and physical function improves and old cells are recycled.
Actually the benefits of fasting are very similar to those of keto. Both fasting and ketosis can place your body into a similar metabolic state.
When fasting, your body will burn stored fat, the level of insulin will decrease and your liver will produce ketones.
The difference between fasting and keto is that keto can sustain over the long time but fasting cannot.
The reason to combine fasting with keto is that fasting can supercharge your keto diet. Occasional fasting can jump start ketosis.
But remember that fasting isn’t suitable for children under the age of eighteen, the elderly or pregnant women.
If you don’t like fasting, you just stick to your delicious diet of keto-friendly foods.
A Keto Plan Isn’t One-Size-Fits-All
Following the standard keto diet may produce improvement to your health. But due to your unique physical needs and health objectives, you can optimise your keto plan with a few tweaks.
If you do exercises regularly, you may choose cyclic keto.
Cyclic keto means you follow a standard keto diet 5 or 6 days a week. For the other one or two days, you incorporate carbs. Carbs can give you a short-term boost in athletic performance and building muscle.
However, you have to be careful of what carbs you eat. A non-keto-day does not mean you can eat a whole pizza or a big bowl of pasta. Instead, you should ingest carbs from high-quality and nutrient-dense sources such as plantains or sweet potatoes.
Remember, when you are on your non-keto days, you will fall out of ketosis, so you will need to keto-adapt all over again later. But if you stay keto-adapted for a long time, it will take less time for you to get in and out of ketosis.
Men and Women are Likely to See Different Results with Keto
Men and women react differently with the same keto diet.
When starting keto, men often have more dramatic weight loss while women have more subtle effects.
In the first phase of weight loss, since men are proportionally bigger and more muscular, their bodies have more water and glycogen.
So they have more initial weight to lose than women do. But over time, women and men will have the same net weight loss benefit on keto.
Women have some specific health benefits from keto diets.
Women’s hormones fluctuate more than men because of menstruation, menopause and other conditions.
Ketones produced by the liver during ketosis can actually help regulate and optimise hormone production. Therefore, women will have decreased PMS symptoms and more regular periods after starting keto.
The symptoms of PCOS can lead to weight gain, hair loss, irregular periods and infertility.
A study at Duke University finds that women with PCOS taking keto diet for 24 weeks can reduce the luteinizing hormone by an average of 36%.
Keto can also boost fertility. Sex hormones and uterus need saturated fats to function optimally.
Keto diet has healthy, keto-friendly saturated fats such as butter and ghee. So it’s great for women who want to have a baby.
Keto is a Lifestyle
Keto is a lifestyle because you have to commit for the long term. You have to incorporate keto into your lifestyle.
For example, when travelling, it’s not easy to go on a keto diet. So you should try to rent a place with kitchen facilities so that you can prepare keto meals.
If you have dates with friends, try to choose restaurants that offer high-quality, keto-friendly food. You can always swap out starch or carbs for veggies or salad.
But sometimes, it is fine to forgive yourself for short term lapses such as having a brownie and go back to keto. This can actually set you up for long term success.
There are many other types of diets that promise fast results. But there is no one that can offer healthy, long term weight loss benefits as keto does.
Final Thoughts: Is Keto a Scam?
Keto is definitely not a scam, and it works.
There is no better choice than keto if you want to have fundamental physical change. It’s the only nutritional strategy that induces the metabolic state of ketosis.
Most importantly, keto diets have far more health benefits than weight loss. You will become a healthier and more energetic person if you can stay-keto-adapted for the long term.