Everyone must have heard about it atleast 10-50 times in their lifetime. It is one of the famous diet protocols used by majority of the health professionals and dietitians, and in some cases administered by doctors as well worldwide.
Invented almost a century ago, the basic purpose of keto diet was to treat Type I diabetes. As in type I diabetes, body doesn’t has the ability to produce insulin, which doesn’t allow body cells to use glucose as a fuel source. So, keto diet, in which primary fuel source shifts from glucose to ketone bodies, helps the patients dealing with type I diabetes to control their blood glucose levels by eliminating carbohydrates from their diets.
Other than blood glucose control, scientists discovered many other health benefits also with keto diet, which are listed as follows:
- Improved lipid profile
- Improved body composition
- Improved insulin sensitivity
- Increased energy levels
- Better emotional state
- Increased growth hormone levels
- Better concentration/focus
- Better heart health
- Improved hormonal balance
- Better neurological functioning
Many others are still part of an ongoing research.
How it works
Human body use two different kind of fuels, glucose and ketones. Other than glucose, ketones have the ability to cross the blood brain barrier and supply the brain with the fuel required.
When you go on a carbohydrate restricted diet or low carb high fat (LCHF) diet, your body’s stored glycogen stores starts falling, which can give you a slight or in some cases severe headache, dizziness, or weakness. It is known as Keto Flue, which mostly occurs during first 4-7 days. But you shouldn’t be worried, it is just that your body is starving for carbs or you can specifically say, glucose. In the absence of glucose, Liver starts converting fats into ketone bodies, so that other cells of the body and brain cells can use it as a source of energy. So body starts using it’s stored energy stores (fat), and you start reducing overall fat percentage.
It takes approx 5-7 days to get into ketosis state (i.e. 1.5 to 3.0 mmol/L). Ketone levels of 0.5 to 1.5 mmol/L, light nutritional ketosis, is also beneficial although not to the degree of full nutritional ketosis.
Obviously, Keto diet is a carb restricted diet, in which the only amount of carbohydrates you ll be consuming ll come from the fiber content. Most health professionals suggest to keep your carb intake less than 5% of total daily calorie intake. Others suggest to keep your carb intake less than 50 grams per day.
Most dietary fat is made of molecules called long-chain triglycerides (LCTs). However, medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs)—made from fatty acids with shorter carbon chains than LCTs—are more ketogenic.
With carbs, you need to limit your protein intake as well to no more than 30%-35% of your total daily calorie intake, as in the state of glucose restricted diets, high protein intake can lead to protein oxidation which can elevate blood glucose levels and get you out of keto process.
Further, high blood glucose levels and high blood ketone levels are dangerous, situation known as ketoacidosis.
Keto is also known as therapeutic diet as it comes in use to treat or decrease the symptoms of some diseases or disorders or illness, like paediatric epilepsy, epileptic seizures, thyroid, diabetes, weight loss, PCOD, many additional neurological disorders, some of which include: Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, autism, brain cancer, headache, neurotrauma, pain, Parkinson’s disease, and sleep disorders.
Potential side effects
If not planned carefully, it can lead to potential side effect which
includes constipation, high cholesterol, growth slowing, acidosis, and kidney stones.
Except these, no additional side effect found neither on short term nor on long term keto diets.
Keto diet and Muscle building/bodybuilding
Many studies have shown that keto diet generates a muscle sparing effect in human body, in which human body doesn’t use protein as energy as it’s primary energy source shifts from glucose to ketones, which allows you to maintain or gain lean muscle mass while still reducing overall body fat.
Some experts don’t recommend this diet protocol for muscle building. According to some studies, depleted muscle glycogen stores can lead to some shrinkage in muscle size (not muscle mass). Which can be disappointing for bodybuilders.
Keto diet and performance
According to studies, Ketone bodies serve as a better fuel source than glucose in humans. During keto diet, subjects reported gain in strength and endurance. Most subjects reported their best performance (1RM) during ketosis.
Ketone supplements are tend to increase your blood ketone levels to boost your energy or mood. Many companies nowadays use ketone properties in their pre workout supplements to boost the performance.
During initial phase of keto diet, you can use Ketone supplements to get into ketosis state as quick as possible to avoid several days of keto flue.
Ketone supplements best work only on low carb diets, keto diets or as in pre workout snacks. Except these, studies haven’t found any additional benefit of these supplements.
Keto diet is one of the most healthful and effective diet till date. Every study has proven its beneficial effects on health, internally or externally. It is being used in many Therapeutic diet treatments. If planned carefully, it is one of the best lifestyle diet approach.
Still, you should always consult with your physician or dietitian before following any diet plan.