Updated: Jun 11, 2022
Are you thinking about starting a Ketogenic (Keto) diet? Do you know how it works? If you are not sure, let us start explaining what it is and how it works so you can make an informed decision.
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What is a Keto diet?
So, what is a Keto diet? In simple terms, it is a diet that is low in carbohydrates and high in fats. You may now be thinking that if it is high in fats, you will gain weight. Well, that is why it is so important to understand how it works.
The principle of a keto diet is to force your body to use fats as a source of energy instead of using the glucose (sugar) that is contained in the carbohydrates. In the Keto diet, both, saturated and unsaturated fats-containing foods are encouraged. Here is a list of saturated and unsaturated fats:
What makes fat to be saturated or unsaturated has to do with its chemical structure. Saturated fats are very stable and their chemical structure does not break down easily. Therefore, to break them down you need higher temperatures than unsaturated fat would need. An easy way to identify them is by looking at their consistency at room temperature. Saturated fat has a solid consistency at room temperature, while unsaturated fat doesn’t. That is the reason why saturated fats tend to stick and build up inside of your blood vessels, clogging them over time and causing strokes or heart attacks.
Pros of a Keto diet
1. You can lose weight because you are restricting your body of calories.
2. Many people claim that the Keto diet suppresses the appetite.
3. It can help to control your blood sugar levels.
4. You do not have to restrict yourself to a low-fat diet.
5. You are cutting off on processed foods.
Cons of a Keto diet
1. If you love sugar, it will be harder for you to comply with this diet.
2. The restrictions on starchy vegetables, fruits, and whole grains can lead you to vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
3. During the first weeks of diet, people may feel tired, confused, or weak, while the body adjusts to the diet.
4. Although your body will be using fats as a source of energy, the saturated fat in excess that your body does not use will continue to impose the risk of clogging your blood vessels.
5. It is contraindicated in pregnancy and in people that have problems with their kidneys, liver, pancreas, gallbladder, or thyroid.
If you are considering starting a Keto diet, you may want to start slowly. Some people do a modified version of the Keto diet where they do not cut off the carbohydrates completely but reduce them. Also, give priority in your menu list to unsaturated fats over saturated fat choices. Take vitamin and mineral supplements to compensate for any deficiencies in your diet. But most important, before trying a Keto diet, get professional advice from your doctor or a dietitian. They will be able to tell you if a Keto diet is safe in your particular case.
And as always, remember to have a healthy lifestyle, and come back for the next topic.
1. The truth behind the most popular diet trends of the moment. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/the-truth-behind-the-most-popular-diet-trends-of-the-moment/art-20390062/ Accessed on February 10, 2022.
2. What’s a Ketogenic Diet. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/diet/ss/slideshow-ketogenic-diet/ Accessed on February 10, 2022.
3. Sussman, D., van Eede, M., Wong, M.D., et al. Effects of a ketogenic diet during pregnancy on embryonic growth in the mouse. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth 13, 109 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2393-13-109
4. Masood W, Annamaraju P, Uppaluri KR. Ketogenic Diet. [Updated 2021 Nov 26]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499830/
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