Keto diet: does it work and is it really safe?

Keto diet is currently a trend yet not everyone really knows what it is all about and if it actually works as a weight loss tool. Keto diet stems from the word ketosis which refers to a body’s metabolic state characterized by raised levels of Ketones bodies in the body tissues. This state could be triggered by a low carb diet or by fasting (though this isn’t very common. Keto diet (also known as ketogenic diet) strives towards weight loss by taking advantage of this metabolic state.

While Keto diet could indeed result in weight loss as well as other health benefits, excessive ketosis may become quite risky with side effects that may prove harmful to the body in the long run. Studies reveal that when glucose is in short supply in the body due to low carb consumption, the body starts producing ketones in the liver from fat. These ketones are then used by the body as fuel. Your body starts accessing your fat stores for fuel eventually resulting in the ultimate goal, weight loss.

keto diet, how effective and healthy is it to your body

HOW DO YOU KNOW YOUR BODY HAS REACHED KETOSIS?

It is absolutely important to know when your body has started burning up stored fat for fuel. Most people go on Keto diet blindly without fully realizing the implications. Here are a few signs to look out for:

  • Thirst: once your body is in ketosis, you’ll notice dryness in your mouth and a feeling of thirst more than usual. Please drink as much water as possible to avoid any health complications (at least 8 glasses of water a day).
  • Keto flu: at the initial stage of a Keto diet, your body may have a hard time adjusting to the new diet leading to Keto flu. You’ll probably feel weak and nauseous all the time for a couple of days.
  • Increased energy: the minute your body recovers from the flu, you’ll be hit with a burst of new energy, clarity, and even a euphoric feeling.
  • Bad breath: many people see this as a down side of ketogenic diet. The ketones produced by your body during ketosis containacetone which escapes through our breath or through sweat during work out. This smell has no known remedy since it’s coming from within.
  • Curbed appetite: this is a unique function of ketosis in the body that generally leads to weight loss. You find yourself less and less hungry (not to the point of starvation).
  • Insomnia: at the initial stage of ketosis, most people have reported that they were unable to sleep. Though this may be the case, it is mostly temporary and improves after a few weeks.

The side effects of Keto diet can be dictated early as they largely occur during the first few weeks. They are also mostly temporal and can be avoided with the consumption of both salt and water. They include:

  • Constipation
  • Heart palpitations
  • Nausea and dizziness
  • Headache
  • Irritability
  • Leg cramps
  • Diarrhea

There are some side effects that are more serious and require much more medical attention than mere consumption of water; and they stem from long term ketosis. They include:

  • Kidney stones
  • Bone fractures
  • Stunted growth (in children)
  • Amenorrhea (sudden absence of menstruation)
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Nutrient deficiency

Bottom line is; yes! Keto diet is very effective for weight loss. Taking into consideration the possible long term effects, you should be advised to balance your diet once your weight loss goals are achieved. Continued ketosis is strongly advised against for your overall well being. In any case, you should consult your doctor, nutritionist or care-giver every step of your weight loss journey and do not fail to mention any observations you may have.

Having listed the many possible side effects, let’s go over the many benefits of Keto diet before we lose sight of how beneficial it is to our health.

Here are a few benefits of Keto diet;

  1. Weight loss (especially around the abdominal region)
  2. Reduced blood sugar
  3. Lower insulin level
  4. Lower risk of diabetes (both type 1 and 2)
  5. Reduced blood pressure

Remember to see your doctor or nutritionist before anything else.

PhotoCredit: Antranik.org

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