The ketogenic diet, often referred to as keto, is a dietary approach that emphasises low carbohydrate intake, high fat consumption, and moderate protein intake. Its primary aim is to induce a metabolic state known as ketosis, wherein the body shifts from using glucose as its main energy source to relying on fat for fuel.
The keto diet involves restricting carbohydrate intake to approximately 20-50 grams per day. This restriction prompts the body to enter ketosis, a state where it produces ketones from fat stores for energy. The diet also advocates for moderate protein intake to prevent excessive gluconeogenesis, a process wherein the body converts protein into glucose, potentially hindering ketosis.
A significant portion of daily caloric intake on the keto diet comes from healthy fats, such as those found in avocados, nuts, seeds, and oils. The high fat consumption facilitates energy production in the absence of carbohydrates.
The key physiological outcome of the keto diet is the production of ketones during the breakdown of fats, serving as an alternative energy source. The metabolic shift is believed to contribute to weight loss by burning stored fat. Additionally, the keto diet has been associated with various health benefits, including improved insulin sensitivity and increased mental clarity for some individuals. It is also employed therapeutically for conditions like epilepsy.
Despite its potential benefits, adapting to the keto diet can pose challenges, as it requires a significant adjustment in eating habits. Some individuals may experience symptoms like fatigue, headaches, and irritability during the initial stages, commonly referred to as the “keto flu.”
Achieving and maintaining ketosis necessitates careful monitoring of food intake. It’s essential to recognise that individual responses to the keto diet can vary, and its suitability may differ from person to person. Before embarking on any diet, including keto, consulting with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian is advisable to ensure alignment with individual health goals and needs.