whats keto diet
Dr. Sedat Öz
Written by Dr. Sedat Öz
3 March 2021
Average reading time of this content is 7 minutes
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What Is The Keto Diet?

People have been following low carb diets for decades, extolling them for their health-giving, weight dropping virtues. Low carb diets can help lower blood sugar and blood pressure too, helping you feel better and gain better fitness levels. The keto diet is one such low carb diet that is seeing excellent results for many people around the world. Originally formulated for younger people experiencing epileptic seizures, it has grown in popularity beyond this medical arena and is regularly recommended for people living with other conditions such as Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease and polycystic ovary syndrome.


How Does It Work?

A low-carb diet such as the keto diet must be monitored carefully. It works by minimising carbohydrate and sugar intake while maintaining a healthy ratio of fat to protein to help fuel the body and maintain your energy levels while the ketosis process gets to work. Ketosis happens when the body reacts to a drop in sugar and carbs and seeks to replace the missing glucose by breaking down its own stored fat and converting it into energy to use instead. This is what leads to the weight loss, but it can also result in headaches, dizziness and dehydration if you are not careful. This is why following a regime like the keto diet must be done properly and with expert nutritional advice and support. Not to mention plenty of water and a good level of sleep for body cell regeneration overnight.

It is generally recommended that someone following the keto diet sticks to around a five-percent carb intake when measured against everything they consume while on the plan. Fat should make up 75 percent with protein filling up the remaining 20 per cent. Processed food should be limited and replaced with fresh, low-carb alternatives. Expect to lose weight slowly but steadily while on the keto diet – this is a longer-term approach, rather than a quick fix. The good news is that the majority of the weight loss you should be experiencing is coming from fat being broken down, rather than muscle reduction.


Keto Diet Plan

Someone following the keto plan is advised to eat a lot of red meat, pork products, fatty fish such as sardines and anchovies, eggs, cheese, nuts and leafy greens. Adding to this keto food list, you can also eat oils such as olive, coconut and avocado and use plenty of herbs and spices to add flavour to your meals. Look out for whole, single-source foods for the healthiest low carb choices and seek out grass-fed, organic meat wherever possible when putting together a keto diet plan.

On the other hand, keto followers should avoid alcohol and sugary drinks, polyunsaturated fats, such as those found in margarines and mayonnaise, cereals, pasta, bread, oats and rice, as well as diet foods, most fruits and root vegetables, such as potatoes, swedes and yams. Keto vegetables that can be eaten include leafy variants like spinach and kale, as well as low carb choices such as broccoli, cauliflower and asparagus.

If these lists seem daunting, try making smaller adjustments, removing a restricted food here and adding a recommended one there, until you feel comfortable with the balance you have achieved. The weight loss and other health benefits will soon start to make themselves known, which should spur you on to make more changes. Always consult your doctor or a nutritionist if you are unsure about starting the keto diet, or have any underlying health conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure that need to be taken into account. This is also the case for anyone leading an unusually active lifestyle or who is seeking to gain more muscle.


Side Effects of Ketosis

Carefully monitored and managed ketosis can have many benefits for healthy living, not least weight loss as excess fat is broken down to be used as energy. However, there can be side effects too, which you will need to be on the look-out for. Many people on a dedicated keto diet plan find themselves experiencing a fruity or metallic taste in their mouth, caused by the ketone compounds in the broken-down fats being exhaled orally during ketosis.

There may be a change in odour in your urine too and even a colour alteration, which is normally fairly mild. Any significant changes or concerns must be reported to your doctor. There is also an increased risk of becoming dehydrated while on the keto diet, so make sure you consume plenty of water along with your keto meals and snacks. Watch out for your appetite reducing, which can appear beneficial while trying to follow a diet to lose weight, but can be harmful if taken too far. Finally, with any diet, you may experience changes in your digestive functions at first, as your body adapts to the changes in food and drink.


Keto Meals

As with any diet, the better you can plan ahead, the more successful you will generally be. Planning your keto meals in advance will help ensure that you have the right ingredients in and that you know how and when to prepare them to make your meals throughout the day. Starting in the morning, a keto breakfast can go heavy on the eggs and bacon, but not so much on the cereal and toast. So make sure you have time to cook breakfast and use the right type of oils if frying your eggs, such as olive oil or coconut oil for maximum benefit.

Moving on to lunch, there are plenty of options once again, with lots of meat and fish choices open to you, as well as a raft of green, leafy vegetables to accompany the main event. You could alternate between red meat, fatty fish and pork products throughout the week to ring the changes and keep your interest levels high. These options are all filling too, so will help satisfy your appetite and keep you going physically until dinner time.

Dinners can be very similar to lunches, with variety a key component for maintaining interest and ensuring a balanced diet. Avoid alcohol or sugary drinks – water works well and can be part of your allocated amount to drink each day to stay hydrated and energetic. Avoid eating too late into the evening to allow your body time to digest your food before going to bed.


Keto Snacks

What’s life without the odd pleasure? Denying yourself snacks will quickly lead to dissatisfaction with your new diet and greater temptation to cheat and fall off the keto wagon. Keto snacks can be delicious and satisfying, even if they cannot be high in sugar, carbs or grains. Chop up a hard-boiled egg, grab a handful of nuts or seeds, slice into an avocado or enjoy a lump of cheese to soothe any savoury cravings.

Sweet snacks can be trickier to arrange, given the need to cut down, or even eliminate fruits and sugars from the diet, but you can still enjoy things like peanut butter balls, cheesecake, low carb brownies and other tempting desserts. There are several keto snack suppliers online selling highly acceptable low card varieties of traditional desserts, as well as a raft of recipes to make up some delicious treats at home.


Keto Recipes

Talking of keto diet recipes, it can be very easy to lose a few hours of your day browsing the myriad of homemade meal ideas online. The fact that you can still eat a good range of meats and fish, as well as cheese, eggs and vegetables gives you a good range of options when it comes to coking something for yourself and your loved ones from scratch. Always check with your doctor or nutritionist if you come across a keto diet recipe that you would like to try, but are not sure about and monitor how you are feeling carefully when trying a new dish or keto snack to make sure that your body is reacting well to it without any cause for concern or alarm.

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