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The ketogenic (keto) diet is one of the most popular nutrition plans on today’s health and fitness scene. It’s touted as a great way to improve energy levels, as well as being able to help you build muscle and burn body fat, all whilst taking in a large number of calories and having access to some of your favourite foods.
But what exactly is it?
Let’s run through what it is and see whether or not you should give it a go.
What is the keto diet?
The majority of your calories come from fats and protein on the keto diet.
Very few carbohydrates are permitted, with typically fewer than fifty grams taken in daily. Therefore, carb heavy foods like pasta, rice, bread, sugar and starchy vegetables like potatoes are excluded entirely. Fat heavy foods like nuts, oils, avocadoes and olives are emphasised instead.
This lack of carbs will deplete your natural glycogen stores. Glycogen is generally your body’s go-to source of energy. Absent of this glycogen, your body will go into a state called ketosis.
This is the keto diet’s main goal.
During ketosis, your body becomes very efficient at burning off excess fat stores for energy. As part of this process, your body will convert fat into ketones in the liver. Ketones are a fantastic energy supply for your brain, and the keto diet is often associated with unparalleled alacrity, mental focus and energy as a result.
Using these excess fat stores for energy will bring your body weight down. Your excess subcutaneous and visceral fat will be depleted: people often turn to the keto diet to experience this fat loss.
Blood sugar and insulin levels should stabilise. This means that hunger pangs should diminish, thus aiding in appetite control. The reliance on slower digesting fats and proteins also leads to greater satiation as your body takes longer to dismantle them at a molecular level.
As protein is also emphasised on the keto diet- especially for those looking to elicit hypertrophy- you will be able to grow your body’s muscle mass, often whilst burning through this excess fat. It is one of the only dietary protocols under which proper body recomposition is possible.
Benefits of the keto diet
The keto diet allows you to:
- Lose weight
- Build muscle
- Experience greater mental focus
- Maintain long lasting energy levels
- Control your blood sugar and insulin levels
- Improve athleticism and reduce training fatigue symptoms like DOMS and lethargy
Downsides to the keto diet
Despite the many advantages touted by keto adherents, it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. There are some serious drawbacks to running through the keto diet, including:
- ‘Keto flu’: a period of low energy and poor immune system during the initial couple of months
- Very strict food choices and limited variability, making adherence very hard and dispiriting
- Lack of dietary important fibre
- Often excessive amounts of meat and other expensive ingredients
- A plethora of ‘snake oil’ supplements targeted at the keto community
It can also be hard to get into ketosis for those following a plant-based diet, as most vegan and vegetarian foods are very carb heavy. Most keto dishes are variations on meat, dairy, poultry, oily fat and low-carb veg, which is hard to replicate for veggies.
However, there are still some options. Vegans in Dubai can choose from a large selection of new eateries in a burgeoning, ever growing market. They will do well to stick to high fat and protein ingredients like nuts, avocados and pure soya- and pea-based protein shakes.
In this way, ketosis should be achievable for everybody.