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How Does Keto Diet Work

What Happens When We Arent In Ketosis

How Does The Keto Diet Work? Reversing Insulin Resistance To Weight Loss

Your body adapts to what is put in it, processing different types of nutrients into the energy that it needs. Proteins, fats, and carbs can all be converted into fuel using various metabolic processes.

When you eat high-carbohydrate foods or excessive amounts of protein, your body will break it down into a simple sugar called glucose. This happens because glucose provides the cells with the quickest source of ATP, which is the primary energy molecule needed to fuel almost everything that goes on in the body.

In other words, more ATP means more cellular energy and more calories lead to more ATP. In fact, every calorie you consume from carbohydrates, fats, and proteins can be used to increase your ATP levels in some way.

If youve ever used our keto calculator to determine your caloric needs, you will see that your body uses up quite a lot of calories. Our bodies use up much of these nutrients just to maintain itself on a daily basis. If you eat more than enough food, however, there will be an excess of glucose that your body doesnt need. What does your body do with the extra sugar?

Given the fact that most of us are within driving distance of seemingly endless amount of food, our bodies should just excrete it from the body. However, the body isnt evolved to deal with the abundant food environment we have today.

The body saves up for the future in two ways:

Why The Ketogenic Diet Impacts Fat Burn

Keto can help you lose weight and make some positive changes to your life. The high-fat, low-carb diet has gained a lot of popularity in recent years, creating an entire community of keto-praising eaters.

Unlike with calorie restriction, keto helps you lose weight by putting your body into ketosis. When you eat minimal carbohydrates, your body produces ketones for energy. Ketones are made in your liver from fatty acids found in food or your own body fat. Therefore, your liver actually burns fat to make ketones. Ketones are used for energy in lieu of carbs.

As your body steadily burns fat as a fuel source, you will start to lose weight. You may be wondering if keto can target specific problem areas, such as belly fat. Burning belly fat is high on the priority list for many people. The fat in your belly is visceral fat, which is a dangerous type of fat that lives deep inside the abdomen, encasing your internal organs. Visceral fat is linked to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Technically, you cant spot-target fat areas for reduction. Your body decides where weight loss will occur. However, keto may be useful for eliminating stubborn belly fat.

Keto alone likely will not be enough to lose a large amount of fat. Keto works well in combination with high-intensity interval training exercises. Always consult with your doctor before beginning any new diet or exercise plan.

What Is Atkins Keto

Whereas a classic keto diet requires strict monitoringand sometimes medical supervisionAtkins keto diets like Atkins 20®* and Atkins 40® have more flexibility with the same benefits. Our plans emphasize optimal servings of protein, in addition to healthy fats and low carb foods, to maintain muscle mass and keep you feeling full, not restricted. And, since theres more room for protein, youll have more food options to choose from and enjoy. On Atkins, youll stay on track to reach your weight goals with a variety of food choices, greater nutritional balance, and less rigidity.

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How A Ketogenic Diet Works

To understand why you might burn fat better on a keto diet or being in ketosis, imagine your body as a car. Glucose is your bodys gasoline: Your body breaks down food into glucose for energy.

But what happens when your body doesnt have enough glucose to use? After all, your car cant run without gasoline.

Fortunately, that doesnt happen with your body. You have a backup fuel called ketones, which your liver creates from fat, which puts your body in a state called ketosis.

On a keto diet, you restrict carbohydrates and protein, which means you consume a diet high in fat. Insufficient carbohydrates or protein means you dont have much glucose for fuel. Your body utilizes that back-up fuel, converting the fat you eat and body fat into ketones.

Youre literally burning fat for fuel!

Shifting from glucose to ketones could take days or weeks, and sustaining it can be equally challenging. Even small amounts of carbohydrates or excess protein can prevent your body from maintaining ketosis.

That makes keto a pretty strict diet. Maintaining that plan requires:

Keto diets can be challenging, at least in the beginning. But some devotees swear by their benefits for weight loss and much more.

Is There A Healthy Way To Eat More Fat

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When Dr. Cervenka of Johns Hopkins Hospital starts her patients with epilepsy on a low-carbohydrate diet, she doesnt rule out saturated fats from animal products. She wants them to get used to the new way of eating. But if cholesterol levels climb and stay that way, she advises them to shift to foods and oils with mono- and polyunsaturated fats like avocados or olive oil.

While the diets effect on LDL appears to be mixed, the National Lipid Associations review found that a very low-carbohydrate diet does seem to improve HDL . Beyond a year, it seems these benefits dont last, much like in weight loss. Only lowered triglyceride levels seem to have any staying power. Other findings: The evidence on blood pressure is inconsistent, and the reports of improved mental clarity are not supported by controlled studies.

Recommended Reading: Cholesterol Lowering Foods Diet Plan

Who Should Try A Keto Diet

So who is a good candidate for keto? In short: people with seizures. While people with seizures should be on medication, the addition of maintaining a keto diet can help decrease their risk of a breakthrough seizure.

According to registered dietitian Danielle Schaub, culinary and nutrition manager for Territory Foods, the diet can also help people who are looking to:

  • improve or reset their insulin sensitivity
  • improve some health biomarkers, like blood pressure
  • or lose weight or body fat with a sedentary lifestyle.

Who Should Try The Keto Diet

The keto diet is the standard of care for treatment-resistant epilepsy.

While the exact science of what happens isnt fully understood, the diet has been used for a century to help alleviate epileptic seizures, particularly in children. Its believed that a combination of the high-fat and low-sugar content has an effect on how excitable the brain is and, thus, reduces seizures.

But doctors are also seeing its benefits in other neurological conditions. The keto diet can be a powerful intervention, particularly for people with the following conditions:

  • Type 2 diabetes.One study found that being on the keto diet for one year reversed diabetes for up to 60% of participants. With an average weight loss of 30 pounds, they dramatically reduced or eliminated their need for insulin and no longer needed oral hypoglycemic drugs. The keto diet is also easier to sustain than other diets.
  • Class III obesity. If your body mass index is over 40 or if you have insulin resistance without Type 2 diabetes the keto diet can be very helpful as well. It can be used as a short-term strategy to reset your metabolism and you dont have to be on it forever.

Research suggests the keto diet might also help those with Alzheimers disease and autism.

Again, its vital to work with a doctor or healthcare professional who can treat and follow you while youre on the keto diet, stresses Jaeger.

Also Check: How Does The Mediterranean Diet Work

Is The Keto Diet Healthy

Theres still not enough long-term data to say that the keto diet is effective and safe over a long period of 20 to 30 years.

But if youre overweight or diabetic, this diet can help get your system out of metabolic crisis and put it in a healthier state, Jaeger notes.

Its important to eat real, whole, fresh foods when youre on the keto diet.

This includes nonstarchy vegetables, Jaeger adds. Frozen food is OK but shouldnt be processed.

So, whether youre doing the keto diet, the Mediterranean diet or a low-fat diet, what matters most is the quality of the food you eat.

Foods To Avoid On Keto

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Foods to avoid on keto include foods high in saturated fat, sugary foods, overly processed foods, junk foods, and takeout foods. Foods of this kind to avoid include takeout pizza, ice cream, pasta, and potato chips. Eating clean when on the keto diet is best, and avoiding food that could move you out of ketosis.

You should also avoid starchy vegetables, fruits with lots of sugar, and any other foods with very high carbohydrate contents. Fruit and vegetables to avoid include peas, butternut squash, parsnips, apples, pears, and bananas.

You should also make sure not to eat too much protein.

Look for food with a low net carb value and a clean label.

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It Might Raise Your Ldl Cholesterol

People with high cholesteroland with high low-density lipoprotein levels in particularshould have their cholesterol monitored, since some studies point to an increase in LDL or bad cholesterol when on a keto-style diet, putting you at greater risk for heart disease. However , not all LDL particles are created equally, and research suggests that the type of LDL particles that increase on the keto diet are not the most dangerous ones . Nevertheless, if cholesterol is a concern, talk with your doc.

Ketoacidosis: The Bad Side Of Ketosis

Ketoacidosis is a potentially lethal state that occurs when excess ketones accumulate in the blood. Some doctors may advise against raising your ketone levels using the ketogenic diet because they fear you may go into ketoacidosis.

These fears, however, are misguided. The process of ketosis is closely regulated by the liver, and the body rarely produces more ketones then it needs for fuel. This is why the ketogenic diet is so safe and effective.

Ketoacidosis, on the other hand, will most likely occur in type 1 and type 2 diabetics that dont have their blood sugar levels under control.

The combination of insulin deficiency and high blood sugar levels that are commonly found in people with diabetes create a vicious cycle that causes ketones to build up excessively in the blood.

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Potential Benefits Of The Keto Diet

One review in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health indicated that the keto diet could be beneficial in the treatment of obesity when implemented under the supervision of a doctor. The benefits included reduction in hunger in obese adults and potential to improve fat oxidative metabolism, which could reduce overall weight. The review also summarizes that the diet can be useful from a period of a few weeks to several months, but advises caution when reintroducing carbohydrates into subjects’ diets.

Clark agrees that the keto diet can be a useful weight loss tool. Keto diets are associated with quicker initial weight losses, mainly due to the loss of water as carbohydrate stores in the body are used up, she says. Some people find the satiation achieved with higher protein and fat intakes useful as a weight management tool. However, 12 months down the line, weight loss results between low carb and low fat approaches are similar.

So perhaps keto is a good option for those trying to induce extreme weight loss, if under medical supervision, but how sustainable is that over time? Clark indicates that the downside of the keto diet is that it is difficult to follow for any extended period. Compliance is a key factor – ultimately what is easy to follow for the long term, she says.

Have a look at our guide to ‘what fruits can you eat on keto‘ for a list of low-carb, keto-friendly fruits and keto diet foods: what to eat and what to avoid.

Is The Keto Diet Right For People With Diabetes

KetoGeek on Twitter: " Simple infographic of how ketosis works #keto

Plus, because keto hasn’t been studied long term, researchers don’t know if the diet will result in nutrient deficiencies for those with or without diabetes.

If you’re considering trying the keto diet and you have diabetes, it’s crucial to consult your diabetes-care team before doing so to make sure it’s a safe and effective eating approach for you.

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Other Health Benefits Of Keto

The ketogenic diet actually originated as a tool for treating neurological diseases such as epilepsy.

Studies have now shown that the diet can have benefits for a wide variety of different health conditions:

  • Heart disease. The ketogenic diet can help improve risk factors like body fat, HDL cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and blood sugar (

Any food thats high in carbs should be limited.

Heres a list of foods that need to be reduced or eliminated on a ketogenic diet:

  • sugary foods: soda, fruit juice, smoothies, cake, ice cream, candy, etc.
  • grains or starches: wheat-based products, rice, pasta, cereal, etc.
  • fruit: all fruit, except small portions of berries like strawberries
  • beans or legumes: peas, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, etc.
  • root vegetables and tubers: potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, etc.
  • low fat or diet products: low fat mayonnaise, salad dressings, and condiments
  • some condiments or sauces: barbecue sauce, honey mustard, teriyaki sauce, ketchup, etc.
  • unhealthy fats: processed vegetable oils, mayonnaise, etc.
  • alcohol: beer, wine, liquor, mixed drinks
  • sugar-free diet foods: sugar-free candies, syrups, puddings, sweeteners, desserts, etc.

SUMMARY

You should base the majority of your meals around these foods:

Its best to base your diet mostly on whole, single-ingredient foods. Heres a list of 44 healthy low carb foods.

To help get you started, heres a sample ketogenic diet meal plan for one week:

Enhancing Healthcare Team Outcomes

To counter the obesity epidemic, some healthcare workers do recommend the ketogenic diet. However, the primary care provider, nurse practitioner, dietitian, and internist need to be aware of a few facts.

Overweight individuals with metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes are likely to see improvements in the clinical markers of disease risk with a well-formulated very-low-carbohydrate diet. Glucose control improves due to less glucose introduction and improved insulin sensitivity. In addition to reducing weight, especially truncal obesity and insulin resistance, low-carb diets also may help improve blood pressure, blood glucose regulation, triglycerides, and HDL cholesterol levels. However, LDL cholesterol may increase on this diet.

Also, in various studies, the ketogenic diet has shown promising results in a variety of neurological disorders, like epilepsy, dementia, ALS, traumatic brain injury, acne, cancers, and metabolic disorders.

Due to the complexity of the mechanism and lack of long-term studies, a general recommendation of the ketogenic diet for prevention of type 2 diabetes mellitus or cardiovascular disease may seem premature but is, however, not farfetched for primary weight loss.

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Does The Keto Diet Work For Weight Loss

Some people report short-term weight loss on the keto diet, similar to many other popular diets. However, restrictive diets can be challenging to keep up long term, and many people put the weight back on.

As well see below, there are also potential health risks from keto if you dont pay close attention to the foods you choose.

Ketosis Can Be Dangerous For Undiagnosed Diabetes

What Is A Keto Diet and How Does It Work?

Cutting almost all carbs from your diet can cause glucosea.k.a. blood sugarlevels to plummet, along with insulin . For a person without diabetes this doesnt pose a danger. And for someone with diagnosed who is monitoring blood sugar levels and using the keto diet along with medical supervision to reduce the need for insulin medication, it may even be desired. But for someone who has no idea they have diabetes or pre-diabetes, a sudden and sustained drop in blood sugarbrought on by the keto dietmight, in rare cases, cause them to pass out or die.

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Can It Be Sustained

Research has shown it to be difficult to maintain the keto diet for a long time. Although you should be less hungry when you follow this diet, it is a very strict regime. As a result, you have to make a few major adjustments to your lifestyle and change quite a few habits.

The longer you eat this way, the easier it gets. In addition, the diet contains a lot of vegetables, enough fat, and a little meat or fish. It is therefore not a diet that you can only do as a carnivore. In fact, it is possible to do a Vegan keto diet.

Different Types Of Ketogenic Diets

There are several versions of the ketogenic diet, including:

  • Standard ketogenic diet : This is a very low carb, moderate protein and high fat diet. It typically contains 70% fat, 20% protein, and only 10% carbs .
  • Cyclical ketogenic diet : This diet involves periods of higher carb refeeds, such as 5 ketogenic days followed by 2 high carb days.
  • Targeted ketogenic diet : This diet allows you to add carbs around workouts.
  • High protein ketogenic diet: This is similar to a standard ketogenic diet, but includes more protein. The ratio is often 60% fat, 35% protein, and 5% carbs.

However, only the standard and high protein ketogenic diets have been studied extensively. Cyclical or targeted ketogenic diets are more advanced methods and primarily used by bodybuilders or athletes.

The information in this article mostly applies to the standard ketogenic diet , although many of the same principles also apply to the other versions.

SUMMARY

There are several versions of the keto diet. The standard version is the most researched and most recommended.

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