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The Keto Diet
What is all the hype?
First, it was the Atkins diet, then the Paleo diet, and now it’s all about the Keto diet plan. Many people who want to lose weight and improve their health are choosing the low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet to induce ketosis and reap all of its accompanying health benefits.
What is the keto diet?
The first step of the keto diet plan is to limit a person’s daily carbohydrate intake to less than 5% of his/her total calories eaten. It further directs the dieter to get 15-25% of his/her calories from protein and about 75% from fat. (Some people refer to the keto diet as the no-bread diet or LCHF diet, meaning low-carb, high-fat diet.)
The keto dieter will practically eliminate most grains, fruit, sweets, legumes and even starchy vegetables and replace them with fat. People who lived through the 80s and 90s—when fat was only considered bad for you and sugar was added to non-fat foods to make them taste good—may need help adjusting to this new paradigm: eating fat actually helps the body burn fat.
How does ketogenesis work?
On the keto diet, the body burns ketones for fuel instead of glucose. Ketones are made of fat and produced in the liver normally when a person eats very few carbohydrates and moderate amounts of protein. Conceptually, ketosis encourages the body to switch its fuel supply from glucose to ketones and thereby burn fat all of the time. When a person’s carbohydrate intake is low, insulin levels drop, making it easier to burn fat stored in the body. And fat can also be utilized by the brain for fuel.
Both the Atkins and Paleo diets focus on eating adequate protein and lowering carbs, but only the keto diet limits carbs to just 5% of your total calories. This restriction greatly helps with fat burning, helps reduce hunger pangs, supports muscle and provides a steady supply of energy.
How long does it take to achieve ketosis?
Ketosis can begin in as little as 3 or 4 days for healthy people who are not diabetic or pregnant. As long as you are eating less than 50 grams of net carbohydrates per day and striving for other diet ratios, you’re likely to start the ketosis process fairly quickly. How long it takes to get into ketosis depends a lot upon a person’s fitness level and current state of health. Some people do not see ketosis happen for one or two weeks after starting the diet. Some may wait even longer, but it eventually will happen as their bodies adjust. Fasting can also kick-start ketosis.
What about keto weight loss?
Many people trying the keto diet are looking for weight loss (from greater fat burning) and help controlling blood sugar levels. Thousands if not millions of people have successfully lost weight using the keto diet.
Other potential benefits of the keto diet include:
- appetite suppression or control
- increased energy
- improvements in cholesterol/lipids (especially HDL, triglycerides) and blood pressure
- better ability to concentrate/focus
- improved cognitive function (less brain fog)
- reduced inflammation
- better digestion/less gas, cramps, pain
- benefits for epilepsy
- help with acne
- fewer migraines
- improved physical endurance
Research on the ketogenic diet suggests that it may help lower the risk of heart disease. It may also help with metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. The keto diet plan is also being studied for possible health benefits for cancer, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), acne and certain nervous system disorders including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS).
Dr. Raymond Swanson is a UC San Francisco physician-scientist who has studied different aspects of the ketogenic diet. In working with mice with stroke injuries, he found that inducing a ketogenic state (or blocking glucose metabolism) helped to suppress inflammatory genes, which then helped with stroke healing.
Ethan Weiss, M.D., associate professor at the Cardiovascular Research Institute, said the ketogenic diet is “incredibly powerful. …There are so many metabolic benefits [to cutting back on carbohydrates]. The body processes the remaining carbohydrates more efficiently, and so it requires much less insulin.”
Are there any side effects to the keto diet/keto lifestyle?
Some negative side effects have been associated with the keto diet. These include fatigue, headache, mild nausea, lack of focus, irritability and possible dizziness. These usually dissipate over a few days as the body adjusts to ketosis. Other fairly common side effects include fruity-smelling breath, constipation, leg cramps, reduced physical performance and heart palpitations.
You can also support your body’s weight-loss efforts with superior quality supplements from Nature’s Sunshine. 7-Keto is one of the top sellers.
Many initial studies with 7-Keto have focused on its ability to safely lower body weight and body fat. It has been shown to promote lean muscle growth by reducing levels of cortisol, the body’s primary stress hormone—cortisol decreases total body energy and stimulates the breakdown of muscle cells.
A double-blind, placebo-controlled study of overweight women found that 7-Keto noticeably increased T3 (triiodothyronine) activity—a thyroid hormone responsible for increasing basal metabolism. This study also found 7-Keto to be 3 times more effective than diet and exercise alone for reducing both body weight and body fat.