Keto Diet: What is it?

Keto Diet: What is it?

The ketogenic diet (or “keto diet”) has recently seen unprecedented popularity due to its supposed weight-loss benefits, yet what exactly are its scientific foundations? In this article, we’ll delve deeper into the intriguing world of keto diet and understand its impact on your body and metabolism. When following this lifestyle choice, your carb consumption decreases significantly while your consumption of healthy fats increases significantly.

Your body responds to this rapid decrease in macronutrients by entering ketosis – a metabolic state where fat stores produce ketones which act as energy source instead of glucose for your energy needs.

Research suggests that keto diet can have significant and positive impacts on your body and metabolism, specifically insulin sensitivity improvement and reduction of blood sugar levels, making it particularly advantageous for individuals living with type 2 diabetes.

In some cases the keto diet research has demonstrated its capacity to accelerate fat oxidation and support weight loss, making it appealing for many seeking weight reduction. By understanding its scientific basis, we can make more informed decisions regarding whether keto is suitable eating plan for us individually; so let’s dive deeper and examine its fascinating effects on body and metabolism!

Diets that restrict carbs – including whole grains, fruits, and legumes – are ideal for keto. Olive and coconut oils are popular choices in keto cooking as they contain beneficial phenols as well as medium-chain triglycerides which boost ketone production.

The keto diet has been used successfully in clinical settings to decrease seizures among children with epilepsy, as well as help people lose weight; it may even work for some individuals; however, before embarking on any drastic lifestyle change such as this fad diet it’s wise to consult your physician and dietitian first.

What is the Keto Diet?

The keto diet seeks to alter how your body uses fuel by restricting carbohydrates. Without sugar as its energy source, fat breaks down into molecules called ketones to provide energy – leading to weight loss as your body uses more calories than it consumes.

A diet rich in fat and low in carbohydrates may lower your risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes, while also leading to greater satiety that helps control hunger and caloric intake.

Protein is a core element of the keto diet, and lean cuts of meat are typically recommended as sources. Fish is another great choice because its low-carb count makes it packed with B vitamins, selenium, and omega-3 fatty acids, all which have benefits to both mental health and lower cancer and heart disease risk.

Seeds and nuts like macadamias, pecans, sesame seeds and walnuts provide both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats while being virtually carb-free. You may even enjoy shellfish like prawns and crabs which also are low-carb options. A cup of plain coffee or tea also provides no carbohydrates while providing some caffeine which may help your metabolism boost performance physically.

How does the Keto Diet work?

A keto diet typically comprises 70%-80% of its calories from fat, 20% from protein, and 5-10% from carbohydrates – making it a high-fat, low-carb diet that restricts grains, fruits and dairy intake.

People on a keto diet usually consume fatty meats, fish, eggs, cheese and nuts as part of their daily food intake. Non-starchy vegetables like leafy greens, tomatoes, mushrooms and cauliflower provide low carbs while being high in fibre and antioxidants – the perfect combination!

Body breakdown of fats to produce energy known as ketones that enters the bloodstream and can be easily measured using a urine test. Ketone bodies enter your system, with symptoms including bad breath and fatigue making exercise challenging.

Bone broth, made by simmering fish, chicken or beef bones for 12-24 hours with herbs and spices is a tasty keto-friendly food option, rich in calcium, magnesium and other important vitamins and nutrients. Coconut oil provides another keto-friendly food option due to its medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are easily absorbed by the liver to be converted to ketones by your body. Plus it has anti-inflammatory properties as well as vitamin E which is known for helping lower cholesterol levels; olive oil also provides healthy monounsaturated fats which reduce bad LDL cholesterol while protecting against heart disease – plus its antioxidant benefits make this food option keto friendly too.

The science behind ketosis

In order to enter ketosis, it’s essential that carbohydrates be restricted. Foods like bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, corn, fruit juice soda and most beers should all be off limits; nuts and nonstarchy vegetables also contain some carbohydrates so it’s wise to be extra wary when selecting your meals.

An experienced registered dietitian familiar with keto diet can assist you in selecting foods that best suit your health goals and explain why certain items should not be consumed on this plan. She can also give tips to mitigate long-term side effects from following this lifestyle.

One possible long-term side effect of keto diet may include losing muscle mass with age, which may decrease functional strength and increase your risk of falls. Another issue might include nutritional deficiencies in women; any short-term side effects are probably normal as your body adjusts to new eating patterns; you should speak with a registered dietitian about both risks and benefits before embarking on this lifestyle change.

Fat-rich foods are essential components of the keto diet, while those containing added sugars should be limited or avoided altogether. Unsweetened black coffee and tea with zero carbohydrates per mug make ideal alternatives, while green tea boasts numerous antioxidants for health benefits.

Potential side effects of the Keto Diet

As with any significant diet change, switching to keto may cause temporary side effects. One such side effect is known as “keto flu,” where you experience fatigue, nausea and irritability as your body adapts to lower carb intake. Dehydration and mineral deficiencies could also occur.

Keto-friendly foods should include those without added sugars that could lead to gas and diarrhea in your gut, making the keto diet unsuitable. Instead, opt for high-fiber options like avocado and nonstarchy vegetables which will help protect against diarrhea while decreasing constipation risk.

Protein can also help you build and maintain muscle mass, in addition to being rich in B vitamins and various minerals like potassium and selenium. If you suffer from kidney disease, however, it’s advisable to follow an individualized keto diet prescribed by your physician.

How the Keto Diet affects your body

On the Keto Diet, you eat a diet rich in omega-3 and B vitamins while restricting carbs to less than 30 g per day – this allows your body to break down fat into energy while producing ketones as by-products.

The ketogenic diet limits the consumption of starchy vegetables such as potatoes and bread, along with sweets, fruit juice, and most processed foods. Instead, fresh meats such as fish and poultry (without stick margarine spreads which contain trans fats that increase heart disease risk) should be consumed regularly.

Shellfish such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel are recommended on the keto diet as they’re carb-free and rich in proteins as well as B vitamins and selenium – essential components of nutrition for a healthy lifestyle.

Dieters on a keto diet need vegetables rich in both fiber and low in carbohydrates to stay on track. Broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, and leafy greens provide essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Berries are another nutritious choice, boasting low carbohydrates and plenty of fiber content, along with plenty of antioxidants that help prevent disease and decrease inflammation.

How the Keto Diet affects your metabolism

Under normal conditions, our body relies heavily on glucose as its main energy source. Cells consume carbohydrates from food consumed and then break these down to release sugar into our bloodstream for use as fuel or stored as glycogen in liver and muscles as glycogen reserves. With keto diet however, carbs become unavailable, forcing it to find fuel elsewhere – such as fat.

Dieters following this diet limit their carbs and sugar consumption to high-process foods like cakes, cookies, bread, and soda; it excludes whole grains, beans, and starchy vegetables and fruits as well as whole grain products like whole grain breads or cereals and starchy beans; although healthy fats such as those found in eggs, fish, nuts and olive oil are allowed in moderation – however any unhealthy saturated fats must not exceed 15%.

Nuts and seeds provide healthy monounsaturated fats, fiber, and protein in an easy-to-digest format, along with medium-chain triglycerides that may increase ketone production and metabolism. Nonstarchy veggies like broccoli, zucchini and raw spinach provide ample amounts of nonstarchy carbs while offering ample dietary fiber and low net carbohydrates – ideal additions for any keto diet! While protein intake on keto may provide enough potassium and calcium if protein consumption drops too drastically.

Keto Diet Effect on Cholesterol

Ketosis occurs when your body switches from burning fat for energy to breaking down fat to create energy instead. While researchers don’t yet fully understand why, researchers do know that eating this way raises cholesterol levels – although researchers do know it increases HDL cholesterol, which carries away excess cholesterol from cells back to liver where it can be recycled or destroyed.

People following the keto diet tend to have higher HDL cholesterol, which has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. One possible explanation may be due to low carb consumption causing HDL levels to rise, or simply due to less cholesterol being produced by your body as a result of eating on this plan.

A keto diet involves eliminating most grains, starches, fruits, and beans from one’s diet while restricting sugar consumption – including in desserts, sweetened drinks, and condiments like ketchup, BBQ sauce, tomato sauce, and salad dressing. Some vegetables can still be included but must be properly washed and cooked prior to being added into this plan; in addition to high-fat foods like fatty cuts of meat or fish; avocado; chocolate; berries; nut butters as well as low-carb vegetable oils such as olive and coconut.

Keto diets can be too restrictive for some individuals, leading to fiber, vitamin D, and calcium deficiencies as well as increased saturated fat intake, increasing risk for atherosclerosis and heart attacks.

Keto Diet Effect on Kidneys

Keto diets may have an effect on kidneys, but when properly planned they’re not harmful for people with normal renal function. Your kidneys were designed to absorb moderate to high amounts of protein; there has been no research showing a keto diet is harmful in any way to your renal health.

As your body enters ketosis, the liver releases bile salts and breaks down glycogen to release energy into your bloodstream for fuel. Furthermore, ketosis encourages amino acid metabolization which allows fat-soluble vitamins A-D-E-K and minerals such as iron and copper to be more readily absorbed by your body.

Even though keto diets are safe for kidneys with healthy renal function, people with kidney disease should consult a renal dietitian when following one. They will assist you with meeting all your nutritional needs while managing the low carbohydrate intake associated with ketogenic diets. Furthermore, renal dietitians can order labs at regular intervals to monitor kidney function and ensure you’re not dehydrating yourself too quickly.

An animal-based ketogenic diet can be difficult for those suffering from reduced kidney function. High protein consumption makes urine more acidic, increases calcium and uric acid levels and may increase the risk of kidney stones or gout attacks.

New research suggests that a ketogenic diet with limited caloric and time-restricted feeding may reduce cyst growth in mice, rats and cats with polycystic kidney disease, or PKD. While further study needs to be conducted in humans living with this disorder – potentially helping those wanting to reduce medication or slow its progression more successfully.

How Does the Keto Diet Affect Uric Acid?

Gout is a form of arthritis caused by too much uric acid in the blood, leading to crystal formation in joints that cause pain, tenderness and swelling. Doctors may prescribe medication such as Xanthine oxidase inhibitors to lower levels of uric acid; lifestyle changes including diet and exercise may also help – although the keto diet seems not to have as significant an impact on uric acid than other diets do.

Studies have demonstrated that those following a ketogenic diet initially experience an initial rise in their uric acid levels due to high levels of ketones present in their bodies, which prevent the kidneys from clearing away uric acid effectively, leading to build-up. Over time however, the risk of flare ups decreases.

People living with gout should strive to follow a diet low in purine-rich foods such as meats, sausages and organ meats; fish; shellfish; and canned and frozen seafood products. Incorporating more vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products as well as drinking two litres of low-calorie fluids daily should help flush away excess uric acid in your system.

Researchers have discovered that certain ketone bodies can inhibit the NLRP3 inflammasome, an immune complex which triggers inflammation that contributes to gout and other conditions. This finding could suggest that ketogenic diets could be combined with traditional treatments like Xanthine oxidase inhibiters for effective management of gout symptoms.

Keto Diet and Ulcerative Colitis

Your may have heard claims that keto diet can provide relief for digestive issues and IBD (inflammatory bowel disease). These claims are mostly supported by one study from Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology which demonstrated that people following a low carb ketogenic diet experienced relief of their symptoms as well as changes to their gut bacteria profiles.

The ketogenic diet is high in fat and moderate in protein. Additionally, it restricts carbohydrates such as starches and most sugars which your body converts into simple sugars for energy production. Complex carbs found in whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables take longer to be broken down; providing essential fiber. Carbs provide energy for brain and cell function.

An individual with UC should avoid eating foods known to trigger its symptoms, such as dairy products with added sugars that increase bowel movements and cause abdominal cramping and gas.

Other foods that could contribute include those containing sulfur or sulfate as well as nuts that have not been ground up, wheat pasta, bread, raisins prunes cruciferous vegetables red meat as well as drinking plenty of water can help decrease diarrhea and bloating symptoms. Staying hydrated also plays a significant role in managing these issues and can reduce diarrhea and bloating symptoms caused by dehydration of course! Staying hydrated will help reduce diarrhea as well as reduce bloating.

Too many fats should also be avoided to prevent gastrointestinal tract irritation and flare-ups of ulcerative colitis, and caffeine such as coffee, tea and energy drinks should also be limited. Finally, carbonated beverages can contribute to gas and bloating issues and should also be avoided for these reasons.

Common misconceptions about the Keto Diet

Many people mistakenly assume that the keto diet is hazardous to their health, which simply isn’t true. Fats found in keto diet foods derived from natural sources like grass-fed meats, organic vegetables, avocadoes, olive oil, coconut oil, MCT oil and full-fat dairy products are very safe and packed full of antioxidants which protect heart and brain function.

While carb-heavy foods should be eaten sparingly on a keto diet, there’s no reason to mistrust whole grains, legumes and other natural carbohydrates; rather than trying to eliminate all carbohydrates outright, focus on cutting back on processed, refined and added sugars; as well as foods high in carbohydrates but low in fiber such as granola bars, most protein bars or meal replacement products.

At first, the keto diet can be challenging as your body adjusts to this new way of eating; however, this will likely subside with time. You should expect low energy during your first few days but will soon notice improvements in energy levels, muscle performance, and mental clarity.


The keto diet has become one of the hottest trends. It frequently appears on lists of best and worst diets, is advocated by celebrities and athletes, and is widely utilized by health-minded households. Although initially developed to treat epilepsy, its popularity has expanded considerably among individuals looking to shed unwanted weight while improving overall health.

The keto diet’s goal is to induce your body into using stored fat as its energy source. It accomplishes this goal by restricting carbohydrates — which are typically the body’s primary energy source — through diet. When glucose runs out, liver production of ketone bodies for energy production begins; in other words, ketosis. For optimal success on this journey to wellness, blood sugar, and ketone levels need to remain at levels low enough that ketone production occurs without risk. This process is called ketosis; hence its success on this diet!

A typical keto diet typically consists of high amounts of protein and saturated fats, along with restricted carbs. Additionally, processed food tends to contain more carbs than fiber; fruits that may contain high levels of sugar; as well as dairy which contains lots of carbs which could potentially cause digestive issues for some individuals.

Although not a sustainable long-term weight loss solution, the keto diet can produce quick results. This is due to forcing your body into metabolic ketosis which results in rapid weight loss and improved health markers. Unfortunately, once people stop following the keto diet they tend to gain back any of the weight that was shed so it’s wise to think of this diet as short-term weight loss tool rather than as an irreversible lifestyle change.

When following a keto diet, it is important to keep calories in mind. Although restricting carbohydrates may help people shed unwanted weight more efficiently, ensuring all calories come from nutritious sources – an effective strategy is consuming a wide range of proteins, vegetables and non-starchy fruits as part of this approach.

Reading food labels and planning meals ahead can help ensure that the keto diet is followed correctly. Many websites, apps, and cookbooks provide keto recipes and meal ideas that can be easily implemented into daily routine. Meal delivery services may also offer convenient delivery of keto-friendly options right to your door!

Keto Diet: what is it?
Article Name
Keto Diet: what is it?
Discover the scientific basis behind the popular ketogenic diet and how it promotes weight loss and health benefits. Learn about the impact of ketosis, metabolism, and the role of macronutrients in this in-depth exploration of the science behind the keto diet.

Ben BA(Hons), PGCert

Ben established this site to be a free resource in 2015. Since then it has gained over half a million visits. He has always been interested in sport and he started playing rugby at the age of 6 represented his town, county and school. Ben also enjoys cycling, has started skiing and is in the Army Reserve representing his Regiment as part of the 150 Regimental Shooting Team. He holds a bachelor's and postgraduate degree in sport exercise & nutrition.

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