The ketogenic diet is a popular and effective low-carb, high-protein option, mainly used to achieve quick weight loss. For many with chronic conditions such as inflammation, diabetes, heart disease, epilepsy, and dementia, this diet is related to improvements or even reversals of these health conditions in the beginning to intermediate stages.
Keto diets work through a metabolic process referred to as ketosis. As a dieter reduces his or her carbohydrate intake and adds more protein, ketosis begins to occur when the body no longer has enough glucose stored to create an energy source. When the body’s preferred fuel source (carbohydrates) are no longer present in the body, it results in a build-up of acids called ketones. These ketones facilitate increased fat breakdown and allows the body to burn fat for energy rather than excess carbs. This concentration on fat burning, rather than stored up carbohydrates tends to lead to quick, visible weight loss for most dieters who stick to it.
What are Keto Diet Foods?
The keto diet plan may vary, but the basis for each is the restriction of high-glycemic foods. The glycemic index (GI) is a ranked number that determines how quickly the body breaks down carbs into glucose and is often used as a staple in diabetic diets. High glycemic foods quickly break down into glucose, spiking blood sugar levels. Consistently high blood sugar levels result in weight gain, insulin resistance and inflammation. While low glycemic foods, take longer to break down and have little to no impact on blood sugar levels.
The lower number, the better. Keto dieters tend to consume foods in the low to medium range:
- 55 or less = Low (good)
- 56- 69 = Medium
- 70 or higher = High (bad)
Here are a few examples high glycemic foods to avoid on the keto diet:
- Flour-based pastas
- White Bread
- Fried foods
- Starches (Russet potatoes, French fries)
- Hamburger buns
- Pastries & desserts (donuts, bagels)
- Sweeteners/Corn Syrups
- Sports drinks
- Some Fruits
- White Rice
- Certain cereals
- Snack foods (popcorn, chips)
Low to medium glycemic foods include:
- Brown rice
- Whole wheat bread
- Sweet potatoes, yams
- Beans, lentils legumes, nuts, seeds
- All vegetables (carrots, spinach, broccoli, onions, etc.)
- Lean meats
What does a Keto Diet Plan Consist of?
Keto dieters often replace carbohydrates with higher portions of protein. The popularity of the Atkins or South Beach Diet led many dieters to maintain low-carb, high-fat diets by ordering burgers without buns for example. While weight loss was still common, keto diets should remain balanced with vegetables and lean protein consumption in sensible amounts to avoid kidney disease. Keto meal plan examples include:
Wild-caught salmon with baked asparagus and brown rice.
Spinach salad with baked chicken, avocados, and tomatoes.
Oatmeal with bananas and a side of chicken sausage.
Are All Carbohydrates Bad?
There is a difference between refined carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates. Refined or process carbohydrates are what we find in our high glycemic foods index. Most are found in snack foods, breads, desserts, pastries, white rice and pastas. You’ll want to minimize consumption of refined carbohydrates in order to stick with a keto diet.
Complex carbs, however, are needed for energy as well as muscle growth. Consuming complex carbs won’t raise your blood sugar levels and can actually aid in weight loss by supplying the body with much-needed fiber, b-vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients. Complex carbs can be found in brown rice, quinoa, rye bread, vegetables, fruits, beans, and lentils.
Are There Any Other Benefits?
The keto diet aids in weight loss due to the triggering of ketosis, which leads to optimal fat burning. Yet, this isn’t the only way dieters lose weight on this system. Lowering one’s refined carbohydrate intake and replacing it with more protein and vegetables makes dieters feel fuller and more satisfied for longer periods of time. This reduces instances of overeating, snacking, and emotional eating and sugary, carb-laden foods tend to make one hungrier and prone to addictive eating behavior. Snack foods tend to have a dopamine reaction in the brain, which cuts off the body’s natural mechanism that stops us from eating when we’re already full. Additionally, many who have trouble losing weight are suffering from metabolic syndrome, which occurs when too many carbohydrate foods are consumed over time but are not burned off due to lack of physical activity. Thus, reducing carbohydrate intake can help to drastically improve this issue.
Are There Any Keto Diet Warnings?
A doctor-supervised keto diet program is the best way to ensure that you are embarking on a safe and healthy journey. Reducing one’s intake of carbs can initially result in fatigue, exhaustion and lowered energy overall as the body adjusts to ketosis. This adjustment can take from one to three weeks depending on a person’s metabolism. Therefore, it’s important to have a medical expert help to keep you balanced.
An elimination of all carbs can actually do more harm than good. Carbs are important for muscle preservation and fueling physical activity. Those who lift weights as part of their exercise routine, need carbs to maintain physical activity and protect their muscles as well. Muscle tissue is also key in weight loss as muscle accelerates fat burning, so for active dieters, carb cycling (eating carbs on workout days only) might be the best option.
Those with diabetes may struggle with low-carb diets since their glucose levels can dip to dangerously low levels. It is important for diabetic patients to incorporate measurable amounts of carbs into their diets to keep their blood sugar regulated. Additionally, those who suffer from hypoglycemia may be at risk for anxiety, heart palpitations, fatigue, and other symptoms when removing carbs from the diet.
Keto Dieting – The DietDoc Way
Keto diets may be an effective way to lose some quick pounds, but due to some of the drawbacks above, it is still necessary to consult with certified weight physicians who can ensure that you are embarking on a safe and healthy journey that won’t cause health issues in the long-term. Our team of experienced doctors and nutritionists take your health status into consideration (unlike the majority of keto programs on the market today) and can adjust your level of carb intake based on what is best for your individual body macros for fast and effective weight loss. Our keto diet plans are tailored to be specific to the needs of those of any age, gender, shape or size and for those who are struggling to lose that final 10-20 pounds to those who must lose 100 pounds or more. Call today to request a private, confidential, no-cost online consultation.