The ketogenic diet has become increasingly popular in the past few years as an effective way to lose weight relatively quickly without feeling deprived. If you’re looking to start this diet, check out the facts about and benefits of going ketogenic.
What is a ketogenic diet?
The ketogenic diet was popularized by cardiologist Robert Atkins in the 1970s, although another version of this diet has been used for years to help reduce the symptoms of epilepsy. Variations of the diet have continued to be created, renewing interest and popularity in recent years.
Unlike many diets that limit the amount of fats you consume, a ketogenic diet derives at least 70 percent of its daily calories from fat. Up to 25 percent of calories come from protein, and carbohydrates comprise only 5 to 10 percent of calories, making the diet low in carbohydrates.
What are some ketogenic diet benefits?
Carbohydrates help give the body energy from glucose. When your body is only taking in a limited amount of these, it needs to get energy from another source, so it starts to use stored fat or the fat that’s being consumed instead. The ketogenic diet is designed to jump-start this metabolic process, which is known as ketosis.
Mild to moderate ketosis is believed to promote weight loss. In addition, the ketogenic diet may provide some heart-healthy benefits by lowering triglycerides (a type of fat found in your blood), HDL (“bad”) cholesterol and blood pressure. It can also help lower insulin levels.
What can you eat on this diet?
You can eat a wide variety of foods if you’re going ketogenic, including plenty of the following:
- Green, leafy vegetables
- Fish and shellfish
- Healthy fats, such as coconut oil, olive oil and those found in avocados and almonds
You can also eat some full-fat dairy products (although not milk, which is high in carbs), but should avoid starchy vegetables such as potatoes, corn and yams, along with most legumes, most fruits and alcohol.
Is the diet easy to follow?
Generally, a ketogenic diet is easy to follow because it’s not very restrictive. There are plenty of foods you can eat, and there’s no need to count calories. Additionally, you’ll start to lose weight fairly quickly, which will give you a powerful incentive to keep going.
Best of all, you won’t feel deprived because you’ll likely feel full and satisfied from the high level of fats in your diet, and there’s no need to limit your overall caloric intake, so you won’t feel starved. In addition, research suggests that the ketogenic diet lowers your level of ghrelin – a hormone that causes you to feel hungry.
How long should I follow this diet?
Check with your doctor before starting any diet so he or she can make recommendations based on your specific needs.
That said, going ketogenic shouldn’t be a long-term solution. Many experts think three to six months on this diet is the right amount of time to help jump-start your weight loss while not causing the negative effects that may result from following this type of diet for a longer period of time.