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The Keto Diet (ketogenic diet) is a low-carb, high-fat diet. As a diet plan, it shares many of the same foods and drinks as the Atkins diet and other low-carb diets. And it changed my life completely, so here is the keto diet explained by this busy, happy, still shrinking mom.
Keto Diet Explained: Why is Keto Different?
I bet this isn’t your first diet. I can’t begin to imagine how many I have tried. Some more successful than others, but all diets in the end. What makes a Keto diet different is that it focuses on drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing those carbohydrates with fat. This drastic reduction in carbohydrates puts your body into a metabolic state that is called ketosis.
The point of going into ketosis is to help your body become efficient at burning fat for energy. While this is happening, your body turns the fat into ketones in the liver, supplying energy to the brain.
**A cautionary note: ketogenic diets can cause massive reductions in blood sugar and insulin levels. So while this can be a good thing for some people, it can cause problems for other people.
Keto Diet Explained: Why Go Keto?
There are a number of reasons why people go on a ketogenic diet. In most cases including mine, it is to lose weight. In some cases, they are medically supervised and use the ketogenic diet as part of a treatment plan. Here are a few reasons why people have started choosing a keto lifestyle.
1. Weight Loss
Due to lowered insulin levels and the body’s ability to burn stored fat, those who adhere to the diet find that they lose weight more quickly than with conventional diets. I know it was true for me personally, 65lbs gone in 8 months!
2. Lower Cholesterol/Blood Sugar
A modified ketogenic diet, what might be called a moderately low-carb diet, is beneficial for healthy adults who are at risk for metabolic syndrome, those struggling with losing weight or controlling levels of blood sugar.
Developing pre-diabetic symptoms is what scared me to the point of change, and why I settled on keto. I knew I had to not only just lose weight, but change WHAT I was eating if I wanted to survive. Managing my insulin/blood sugar levels without prescriptions is what drew me to keto.
3. Cancer Prevention
This one excites me for the future! There are medical studies being done, such as those conducted by the Department of Radiation Oncology at the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Iowa, and the NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, that are showing good results with the ketogenic diet being an effective treatment for cancer.
4. Reduced Seizures in Epileptics
The Epilepsy Foundation endorses the ketogenic diet because it has been shown to help control seizures in some people with epilepsy. Doctors usually recommend the ketogenic diet for children whose seizures have not responded to several different seizure medicines.
5. Reduce Risk of Heart Disease
In addition to weight loss, the risk factors of body fat, HDL levels, blood pressure and blood sugar are improved. By eating more real foods and less sugar, the usual causes of heart disease are lessened.
Keto Diet Explained: Health Benefits
There are many health benefits experienced by those on the ketogenic diet. The basis of the diet is that it is designed to get a certain response from the body. Those on the keto diet eat normal amounts of protein, higher amounts of fat, and they keep their carbohydrate intake very low.
Because carbohydrate intake is low, the blood sugar (glucose) level is low, and the brain pulls from this alternative energy source, which is fat. Before fats can be used by the body, the liver has to first convert them to ketones. It is ketones that are used as energy for the body and brain when there is lack of glucose.
The ketogenic diet actually originated as a tool for treating neurological diseases, such as epilepsy. Studies have shown that this diet can have benefits for a wide variety of health conditions.
Keto Diet Explained: Happy Side Effects
Here are a few wonderful side effects most people on the diet will experience include:
Weight Loss: Due to a lowered insulin level and the body’s ability to burn stored fat, those who adhere to the diet find that they lose weight more quickly than with conventional diets. It sure works for me! And I lost my first 65 lbs without exercise.
Acne: Lower insulin levels and eating less sugar and processed foods help improve acne. In addition, an increase in water intake will occur due to the lack of carbohydrates, offering good hydration of the skin.
Clarity of Mind: An unbalanced diet can lead to lack of mental clarity, and it feels like a foggy brain. People find it difficult to remember facts or struggle with staying focused on tasks. So the keto diet, by helping the body burn fat as energy, sends energy to the brain and helps it to stay focused.
Improve Productivity: Many people are not aware that ketones are a more efficient energy source than glucose. And for the brain, energy is everything. This type of energy helps better protect the brain — and the rest of the body — from oxidative stress, which negatively affects mental performance and brain aging.
I know that I sure have felt more focused over the last year. With a clear mind and increased productivity, and more energy, I have felt the best I have in years.
Keto Diet Explained: This Mom’s Conclusion
For all the naysayers, while no research is conclusive that a ketogenic diet will reduce the symptoms or actually cure major health issues, there is major evidence that it does not do any harm. As for the side benefits of mental clarity and weight loss, those are shown to occur in otherwise healthy adults.
As you can see, the ketogenic diet is more than just a low-carb/high-fat diet to lose weight. It is being studied and used now as a part of the treatment of many different diseases. So far many, there is no reason why you can not give the keto lifestyle a try.