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Everything you need to know about the keto diet

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AMMAN — Many people start the keto diet to lose weight. In the 1920s, it was introduced as a form of therapy for children with epilepsy and was a form of fasting that proved effective in those cases. Since then, it became less popular for that particular purpose, but gained popularity as an effective weight loss strategy. اضافة اعلان

The ketogenic or keto diet is similar to the Atkins diet, which rose to popularity in the 1970s. The Atkins Diet is high in protein and low in carbohydrates, much like the keto diet.

Like many weight loss diets, keto requires patience, will-power, and persistence. This can be hard for many people as they must give up certain foods that are part of their daily lifestyle. 

What is a keto diet?

Glucose is the main source of energy for all cells in our bodies and mainly comes from eating carbohydrates. Once glucose is completely depleted, your body begins to break down fat for energy. Energy comes from ketone bodies that are produced upon the breakdown of fat in the liver. 

When there is a high concentration of ketone bodies, ketosis occurs. Ketosis can also happen during long periods of fasting (like fasting during the holy month of Ramadan). Periods of ketosis also occur during sleep and high intensity exercise. According to research, keto diets have short-term benefits such as weight loss, improvement with insulin resistant diabetes (type 2 diabetes), and reducing high blood pressure. 

The keto diet is a form of fasting that includes high fat, moderate protein, and low carbohydrate meals. The goal is to get your body to naturally burn fat as its primary source of energy instead of carbohydrates (carbs). You do so by cutting back on carbs that are more easily digested such as sugar, bread, and pastries. Typically, carbs are reduced to about five to 10 percent of your daily calorie intake, which is around 50 grams per day.

Protein should range from 10 to 20 percent, and the remaining calories should be fats. It is important to note that protein intake should not be too high. Eating too much protein can prevent ketosis, which is key to successful weight loss using this method. When you eat too much protein, the excess gets converted to glucose — a readily available sugar for the body to use, preventing ketosis.

How does it work?

After four to five days of depriving your body of carbs, it eventually runs out of fuel and begins to break down fats and protein for energy. This will make you lose weight by burning fat that is stored around your body. It is important to note that keto diets are short term and should not be continued for long periods of time. A keto diet simply shows faster results.

This is because it takes more calories to change fat into energy than carbs. The protein also helps you stay full for longer periods, inhibiting hunger. For many people, the keto diet works and there are many theories as to why.

Some include: The high-fat content of the keto diet keeps people feeling full resulting in decreased food cravings; restricting the amount of carbs you are eating causes the appetite-stimulating hormones ghrelin and insulin to decrease; the ketone bodies produced from the breakdown of fat in our bodies have the ability to directly reduce hunger; the process of converting fat and protein to energy in the keto diet burns more calories than converting carbs to glucose in higher carb diets; and the keto diet promotes fat loss as opposed to building lean muscle mass due to lower carb intake (and therefore decreased insulin levels) and only moderate protein intake.

Does it actually work?

One study in 2018 decided to evaluate the different aspects of a 12-week Keto diet in obese adults. Within one week, all participates showed statistically significant reduction in body weight. and weight loss was significantly greater in males versus females. Fat mass had also seen a statistically significant reduction within just one week and a sharper decrease within four weeks.

Aside from quantitative measurements, this study was also interested in the qualitative effects of keto. Through different forms of measurement, researchers found that there was a significant improvement in physical performance. Additionally, after the 12-week Keto diet, participants had a statistically significant improvement in both working memory and speed of processing.

Another study also evaluated the use of keto in type 2 diabetic patients. Through their findings, they were able to show that keto can help improve blood glucose control by reducing the glycemic load (how much glucose is in the body) and weight loss. It shows great potential for diabetes management in the future as it can potentially address the underlying cause of diabetes, secondary to obesity, which is insulin resistance. The hope from this study is to eliminate the need for medication in the future with close monitoring. 

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