Obesity is one of the major health concerns worldwide. It is a medical condition wherein excessive body fat gets accumulated in the body having adverse effects on the health. Generally, obesity is caused by a combination of excessive food energy intake and lack of physical activity.

Obesity causes a number of health related problems particularly cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, obstructive sleep apnea, and certain type of cancer.

It is also a major risk factor for metabolic abnormalities including high blood pressure, low HDL cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and high waist- to- hip ratio.

But thankfully obesity and overweight related health problems can be improved or prevented by modest weight loss.

At an individual level, dietary changes, increased physical activity and lifestyle changes can help in achieving weight loss.

Many diets have also emerged to help in the weight reduction process. And one such diet that has become successful in speedy weight loss is the ketogenic diet.

In this article we will explain to you what a ketogenic diet is and how it works to help people lose weight.

What is a ketogenic diet?

Ketogenic diet basically is a weight loss diet used by people in which very limited amount of carbohydrates is consumed. This diet usually comprises of food with high fat content, moderate protein and very low carbohydrate content.

The idea is for the body to enter the process of ketosis which is a metabolic state achieved through lowering carbohydrate intake in the body and increasing the fat intake in the body.

In the process of ketosis, the body starts using up fat to form ketones that are basically molecules which can be used as fuel proving a source of energy instead of carbs and sugars which is generally the normal energy source of the body.

The first few weeks or days on a ketogenic diet is generally the most difficult. The body might experience certain symptoms as it is trying to undergo change from using sugar to ketones for energy.

After this initial time on this diet, the body becomes very efficient in using up fat in the form of ketones as fuel instead of carbohydrates. This results in effective weight reduction in the form reduction of excessive fat from the body.

Many studies also suggest that ketogenic diet is proved to be more successful in faster weight loss in the initial 3 to 4 months of following the diet.

The ketogenic diet has also been helpful in reducing insulin levels, which can prove to be beneficial in improving insulin sensitivity and help manage blood sugar efficiently. [1]

What to Eat and What not to Eat in a Ketogenic Diet

 – Foods to be included in a ketogenic diet

  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Healthy oils
  • Nuts
  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Heavy cream
  • Seeds
  • Low carb vegetables
  • Seeds

– Foods not allowed while on a ketogenic diet:

Nearly all carbs and sugars should be eliminated when following a ketogenic diet. Some of which are:

  • Rice
  • Wheat (chapatti, roti, etc.)
  • Potatoes
  • Grains
  • Cereals
  • Beans
  • Milk
  • Sweets
  • Corn
  • High carb veggies like squash, peas, etc.
  • Fruits
  • Alcohol

Ketogenic Diet for weight loss

Many studies and research has provided with evidence of weight loss through ketogenic diet.

If you are someone who hates to keep track of the calorie intake, then ketogenic diet may be a good option for you!

If you follow a ketogenic diet you don’t have to count calories, just eliminate certain food items. But, you still have to check labels and keep track of total grams of carbs consumption per day. This can be achieved through proper food selection.

Some studies also suggest that a ketogenic diet is more effective than low-carb diet for weight loss even with equal calorie intake. [2]

Other ketogenic studies found out that ketogenic diet leads to a reduction in appetite and food intake. This is extremely important as it helps in real-life application results of the diet. [3]

Reduction in appetite and food intake may boost weight loss for a longer time.

One older study also discovered that people on ketogenic diet lost 2.2 times more weight than people observing low calorie, low-fat diets. Triglyceride and HDL also improved in ketogenic diets. [4]

Besides these, there are a number of studies suggestions the effectiveness of the ketogenic diets and benefits for people dealing with obesity.

However, it is important to understand that these studies are not comprehensive and are based on a smaller sample size observed through a shorter time period.

Most of the studies only evaluate the short-term effects of ketogenic diet for weight loss and other benefits.

More research needs to be done to find out how effective a ketogenic diet is for long term weight loss. Also, once a person switches back to normal balanced diet whether or not weight is regained?

The answer to all these questions can be achieved through more additional research in the segment.

How does a ketogenic diet help lose weight?

A ketogenic diet help to burn fat, reduce the calorie intake, reduce appetite, and increase the feeling of fullness for longer periods compared to other weight loss diets. Hence, proving to be effective in achieving weight loss.

Let’s have a quick look on how does ketogenic diet promote the weight loss process;

  • Lowers your appetite:

A ketogenic diet meal helps you feel full for a longer time. Also, this diet brings in positive changes in the hunger hormones like leptin and ghrelin further lowering your appetite.[5]

  • Gluconeogenesis:

This is a process in which your body is able to convert fat and protein into carbs to use as fuel. This may result in body burning additional calories per day.[6]

  • Boosts insulin sensitivity:

A ketogenic diet can help a person in boosting the insulin sensitivity resulting in an improved metabolism and fuel utilization. These are the major factors promoting weight loss.[7]

  • Increased protein intake:

Ketogenic diet involves an increased daily protein intake resulting in a number of weight loss benefits.[8]

  • Enhanced fat burning process:

If you follow ketogenic diet, the tendency of your body to burn excess fat enhances even while you are resting or doing your daily chores or even while exercising.[9]

  • Reduction in fat storage:

When on ketogenic die, the process of lipogenesis gets reduced. This means the body’s conversion of sugar into fat is reduced. This is mainly because excess carbs are stored as fat and when there’s minimal intake of carbs, fat is used as a source of energy by the body.[10]

Through all these factors, the ketogenic diet has proved to be successful in promoting weight loss.

To ensure weight loss in the long run it is important to ensure adequate calorie intake while on ketogenic diet to stabilize the metabolic activity of the body.

However, it is to be noted that while in short term ketogenic diet is a great way to lose weight it may not be sustainable for long term. Also, people may find it difficult to follow this diet for a long term.

Basic rules in a ketogenic diet:

In order to help you follow the ketogenic diet the right way, we have made a list of rules;

  • Get rid of carbs:

The aim is to restrict carbs intake in your diet to a bare minimum of 20to 50 gms per day. To ensure this, check the food labels and choose what you eat wisely.

  • Store up on your primary food:

To follow ketogenic diet, there are certain foods that will become major part of your primary diet like meat, nuts, eggs, cheese, cream, avocados, etc.  so, it’s important to always stock up on these items for your anytime hunger pangs.

  • Increase low carb veggie intake:

A ketogenic diet meal doesn’t include enough fibre intake as you can’t have grain, beans or legumes, causing constipation problems. Therefore, its important to increase your consumption of low carb veggies to get your daily fiber content.

Also, to help you feeling full for a long time you can try basing your meals with low carb veggies as other fat sources are also very high in calories.

  • Keep experimenting:

Keep on experimenting with your ketogenic diet meals until you find what you love as keto diets can be tasty and interesting as well. There are keto versions of pastas, breads, brownies muffins and even ice creams. So, you never know what you end up inventing for your next keto meal.

  • Prepare a plan:

Whenever you start any new diet it is very difficult to stick to eat. Therefore it is very important to get a plan ready for any situation you might be in; like what will you eat in case you are travelling keeping your go-to snack ready for those untimely hunger pangs.

  • Keep yourself hydrated:

It is important to always drink plenty of water and also keep adequate electrolyte level. Include fluids in your diet that manages you daily sodium, potassium and magnesium levels to keep up your energy.

  • Keep a track of your progress:

For any diet to work properly it is important to keep a track of your progress. Check your weight every 3 to 4 weeks to ensure you reaching your goal. In case the progress stops review what went wrong and try to rectify it. Make sure you are eating enough veggies and keeping portion size moderate for every meal.

  • Consistency is the key:

Any diet will work as long as you remain consistent. It is the most important factor for the success of you goal. So, always remember that.

  • Test your ketones:

It is also important to test your ketone levels to monitor if your carbohydrate levels are sufficiently low for the process of ketosis to take place in your body efficiently. The ketone levels can be tested through blood or urine tests.

  • Consult your doctor:

Before starting the ketogenic diet it is always advisable and important that you consult your doctor first.

Who should follow a ketogenic diet?

There are many controversies surrounding the ketogenic diet, but research and many keto experts suggests it to be safe for most people.

Then again, no diet is suited to every person. It depends on an individual’s body type, lifestyle choices, genes, metabolism and personal preferences.

In general the ketogenic diet is beneficial for;

  • the people with obesity
  • the one’s with metabolic syndromes
  • The one’s likely to develop metabolic syndromes.

In the above conditions too it may not be suitable for everyone.

The ketogenic diet is not suitable for people with some conditions, including;

  • Liver failure
  • Fat metabolism disorders
  • Pancreatitis
  • Porphyrias
  • Carnitine deficiency
  • Pyruvate kinase deficiency [11]

A ketogenic diet is usually not an advisable diet for the athletes and people who wish to build muscle or are involved in high physical activities.

Pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers are also the ones that cannot follow the keto diet.

Besides these, people on medications for diabetes and blood pressure can also not follow the ketogenic diet.

Following the ketogenic diet can also be a very difficult task and not everyone may be able to comply to it completely. Therefore, for such people carb cycling or standard low-carb diets may be a better option.

As meat, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy products form a staple meal in a ketogenic diet; this diet may not be a very good option for the vegans and vegetarians. They may find following this diet extremely difficult with a very limited number of foods that are allowed to be consumed as per their choice.

Before starting the ketogenic diet, it is important that you speak to your doctor to ensure if this diet suitable and safe for you.

Bottom line:

There has been a lot of buzz around the popular ketogenic diet with so many weight loss transformations. A ketogenic diet can give amazing results if you are consistent in following it.       

To achieve proper weight loss through ketogenic diet, it is important to follow all rules properly and eat high fat food with limited carbs of 20-50gms per day.

A ketogenic diet under medical supervision is a great way to lose weight!

It is advisable to consult your doctor before starting the ketogenic diet and ask if it is a suitable option for you!