When to implement Keto Diet?
General Nutrition • • 1 minute to read • By Praveena Kuchipudi, INFS Faculty
Author: Praveena Kuchipudi
In the world of rapid technological advancements, people constantly look for new inventions or things that will give them instant solutions. The same applies with diet types. With the diet culture, people rely more on diet types that show an immediate effect. But as long as that one diet can help with good health, there is no harm in making it a lifestyle. What makes it harmful is having no or less knowledge on why and when a particular diet type can be implemented!
In this article, let’s discuss the most talked about ‘Keto Diet’ or ‘Ketogenic Diet.
What is Ketogenic Diet?
Keto Diet is also termed as ‘Very low carbohydrate diet ’ (VLCD). In this diet type, the macronutrient ‘ fats ’ composition, which around 70% of total calorie intake, acts as a major source of fuel. The macronutrient protein is kept adequately, 15-20% and carbohydrates between 5-10% of total intake (approximately 20-50g per day).
When carbohydrates are very low, the body is forced to find an alternative for the production of energy to keep up with the metabolic activities. It shifts the focus on the oxidation of body fat and also the dietary fat. So, what exactly happens with this breakdown of fats, and how is the fuel used?
Ketosis is a metabolic pathway, which produces certain compounds called ‘ketones’ which act as ‘superfuel’ for the brain. When there is absence or less amount of carbohydrates, insulin levels reduces, which leads to reduction in lipogenesis and fat accumulation. The glucose levels in the blood are reduced as a result of less carbohydrate intake, and the brain will have less supply of glucose. Eventually, the body finds the alternate source for energy, the fats that are present in the body. Upon breakdown of these fats, there is production of certain compounds called ‘ketones’ or ‘ketone bodies’. This process is called as ‘ketogenesis’ (ketosis). These ketones are utilized by the brain as an energy source.
Symptoms that are together called as ‘keto flu’ is observed in the initial 3-4 days of the start of keto diet. The symptoms are, nausea, vomiting, headache, constipation, dizziness, and fatigue.
Keto Diet and Exercise
Since the carbohydrate intake is very less in keto diet, there will be negative impact on the performance during exercise, in particular, high intensity activities. If it is necessary to follow a keto diet for a reason, variations of keto diet can be followed depending on the type of activity, time, and intensity of exercise. The two main variations are,
- Targeted Keto Diet (TKD)
In TKD, a person consumes the 20-50g of carbohydrates present in the diet around their workouts to help with the performance. It can be pre-, during or post-exercise.
- Cyclical Keto Diet (CKD)
As in the name ‘cyclical’, CKD is followed in a cycle of 5 days of standard keto diet and 2 days of moderate carbohydrates which are typically on the high intensity or longer duration of trainings. It is important to maintain the ketosis state immediately after the 2 days more carbohydrate intake.
Pros and Cons of Keto Diet
The concept of keto diet dates back to 1920s when they used it as a therapeutic diet for the treatment of epilepsy. The fact that keto diet have a positive effect on metabolic factors are being studied till date.
Though keto diet helps in immediate loss of weight due to the limited availability of carbohydrates, it might not be to follow due to the non-sustainability in the long term. Moreover, KD can be implemented as a therapeutic intervention in various studied diseases with strong evidence, such as type 2 cholesterol levels) but long-term intake might make one susceptible to increase in serum triglycerides leading to high cholesterol levels.
Adapted from : Paoli et al., 2013
The major challenge with keto diet, either as a therapeutic intervention or for weight loss, is the long-term sustenance.
As per American Diabetes Association, low-carbohydrate diet (LCD) differs from Keto Diet, in which the quantity of carbohydrates is ≤ 150 gram per day. LCD can be designed with either normal-fat, high protein or high-fat, normal protein. Both the diet offer similar benefits of weight loss and glycemic control in type 2 diabetes.
Follow a balanced diet with recommended macronutrients for general health factors improvements, and weight loss. It is better to get advised by a proper dietician or physician if keto diet needs to be implemented for any of the clinical disorders as mentioned.
- Freire, R. (2020) ‘Scientific evidence of diets for weight loss: Different macronutrient composition, intermittent fasting, and popular diets’, Nutrition, 69, p. 110549. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2019.07.001.
- Paoli, A. et al. (2013) ‘Beyond weight loss: A review of the therapeutic uses of very-low-carbohydrate (ketogenic) diets’, European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Nature Publishing Group, pp. 789–796. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2013.116.
- Lewgood, J. et al. (2021) ‘Efficacy of Dietary and Supplementation Interventions for Individuals with Type 2 Diabetes’, Nutrients, 13(7). doi: 10.3390/NU13072378.
- Ludwig, D. S. (2020) ‘The Ketogenic Diet: Evidence for Optimism but High-Quality Research Needed’, Journal of Nutrition, 150(6), pp. 1354–1359. doi: 10.1093/jn/nxz308.
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