Before getting to what is the ketogenic diet, like always, we must understand the anatomy of the body. So whenever we consume a meal, the body breaks down the carbohydrates into glucose which gets ingested by the body for energy.
But what happens if there are no carbs available to break it down, the body goes into your fat stores and starts breaking it down for fuel, and when this cycle continues for a few days or weeks the body enters into a mode called Ketosis, which means the body starts using ketones as the primary source of energy.
Just like how the carbs get broken down into glucose, similarly, fats are broken down into ketone bodies to get used up as fuel or energy. This can only happen when there is minimum to none carbs present in the body.
So the Ketogenic diet is all about making the body use fats for energy and other bodily functions rather than carbs, by eating more of fats and minimum to low carbs.
How to do it?
The Ketogenic diet consists of three different variations starting with
Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD) - This form of Keto is what you would expect when starting in this diet. The structure of your food group would be 60-70 % fats, 20 - 25 % protein, and low carbs. So if your daily caloric intake is of 2000 calories, About 1300-1400kcal should come from fat sources, then from the remaining 600kcal, about 550kcal should come from protein sources and the remaining from carbohydrates. SKD is for people looking to lose some weight in a quick fashion.
Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD) - So TKD is mainly helpful for people who are active physically, like athletes, marathon runners, etc. The only difference between SKD and TKD is that you are allowed to have carbs prior to your workout of about 30 50 gms or before you go out to perform any rigorous physical activity as compared to SKD where you are supposed to keep the carbs to the minimum.
Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD) This variation of Keto is about to stop and start, which means in a period of 7 days, you follow your standardized way of keto which is high fat and low carbs, for a few days, then by the end of the week, you have high carb meals to fill that glycogen stores in your body.
So for example, you follow a high fat, low carb diet from Monday to Friday but you eat high carbs and low fat on Saturday and Sunday, The goal behind this is to load yourself with glycogen so that you can have that explosiveness during the beginning of the week while you are working out so that the muscle fibers don't run out of fuel. This form of keto is meant more for bodybuilders and people looking to put on more muscle but also wish to stay in ketosis.
Effects of Ketogenic diets on different conditions
Since epilepsy is neurological disorders which are caused by abnormality and excitability of the nerve cells. Keto diet has been shown encouraging results for the patients suffering from Epilepsy. Since the brain doesn't use glucose for energy when on a keto diet, the ketones in the body can lead to metabolic changes which in turn results in less excitability of the nerve cells. a 2013 study has shown that ketones have been used as a way of treatment for seizures for a long time.
Type 1 Diabetes
In this condition, the body doesn't produce enough or no insulin for the blood sugar to get pushed into your cells. Hence patients suffering from type 1 have to take insulin dozes after every meal. Since in the ketogenic diet, there is a little amount of carbohydrate consumption, and the primary source of energy will come from fats.
It has been shown to have a positive effect on a number of people suffering from type 1 diabetes. Although if you are a type 1 diabetes patient and would like to try out the ketogenic diet, it is extremely important to do it under professional guidance.
Because if it is not done in a proper way, it can also have its adverse effects such as ketoacidosis, which means too many ketones in your body.
When the body is in a state of ketosis, it only uses fats for fuel. Because of that, a person may see a difference in his/her overall weight. Since the body is able to burn the fat every day for energy. There could be rapid weight loss happening for the first few months.
And since one gram of fat contains 9 kcal. it takes more amount of total calories to burn fat for fuel and eating more fat could also provide a feeling of satiety, leading to eating less in quantity and more in quality.
Although keep in mind, All the results have been anecdotal from people's experiences, there hasn't been a clinical trial for this to be said with concrete evidence.
It's possible for someone following a ketogenic diet to build muscle, In fact, there many athletes and bodybuilders who follow this way of living. However, it won't be easy and would take a while for the body to get adjusted to the state of ketosis.
You see, your body performs better when your glycogen (stored glucose) stores are full before an intense workout. You will have that quick release of energy when it's needed, compared to exercise while in ketosis.
Your body can adapt, evolve, and eventually can get used to functioning on ketosis.
But it's not recommendable for an average individual to switch to ketogenic for bodybuilding unless there is some underlying medical conditions which require dietary changes, because your muscles can grow better and you can perform better in the gym when it has a proper amount of carbs, protein, and fat and not just one macronutrient.
Cons of Ketogenic diet
Ketoacidosis - This condition takes places when the number of ketones in your body surpasses the regulated state, which means the ketones in your bloodstream are no longer monitored by insulin, it leads to acids from the ketones build up in your body which can lead to pain in the belly, vomiting, etc.
Risk of developing Gall stones: When we eat a food which is high in fat, now to break it down the liver has to produce bile juice, which gets stored in the gall bladder, so whenever we eat something fatty, the bile is released from the gall bladder, Overtime when our diet is high in fat, the need of bile from the liver increases significantly, As you know the bile gets secreted from the liver and gets stored in the gall bladder, it increases the possibility of developing gall stones and also impaired liver function.
Vitamin Deficiencies: On a keto diet, you are not allowed to eat fruits, which are high in carbs and devoid of fats except for some fruits like avocado. If you look at the most essential vitamins and minerals, they come from fruits and vegetables. So its quite likely that you may develop some vitamin or mineral deficiencies if you don't take it in the form of supplements to compensate for it.
What am I allowed to eat while on Keto?
Since the majority of your meals should come from fat sources, and the foods which have a good amount of fats.
Hence you can eat the following things.
Non-veg sources high in fats
Veg sources high in fats
Can I eat Carbs?
You can eat carbs as long it is kept to its minimum which is around between 20 - 50gm so that you don't break the state of ketosis.
Hence you must eat the carbs which are high in quality and low in quantity like :
Vegetables low in carbs
We must understand that everyone's body is different, there is no one size that fits all, It's easy to read into the success stories of another who were on a certain diet like keto or vegan for example. People will always share the good things and keep out the negative aspects out of it or try to put a positive spin on it by drawing comparisons.
Should one do ketogenic to lose weight? in my opinion, I would say no, because I don't believe in diets which are restrictive in nature, in any way, whether its carbs, fats, or protein.
I do not believe in painting a certain macronutrient as the ultimate villain.
It's important to understand that there are situations where dieting is necessary based on diseases like type 2 diabetes, surgeries, or numerous other reasons. But for an average joe who has the ability to walk, move, run, exercise and has the capability to make a change in his lifestyle, by getting enough sleep, incorporating discipline, and by using the power of the mind, a restrictive diet is not needed.
But if you still are curious about a particular diet like keto than I encourage you to try it out yourself under the guidance of a medical professional before diving into other people's notions completely. it's important to experience something ourselves and to get a personal perspective about it rather than going with the flow of influences.