What are Ketones and What is Their Significance in the Keto Diet?
So much has been said about the keto diet but really, what is it? Keto comes from the word ketosis which is the process by which ketones are formed. For a better understanding of this diet, we need to ask ourselves what are ketones? These are tiny energy molecules that the liver produces using fat via the ketosis process. The fat is broken down into glycerol and fatty acids, thus producing ketones.
When one is on a keto diet, their body fully runs on energy produced by fat, the ketones. This means that you have to switch your diet completely from being starch-based to being fat based. The main aim of embarking on this journey is to cut the excess fat stored in the body that accumulates when
you eat carbohydrates, therefore, reducing your starch intake to 20-50 grams per day is required.
Keto diet approved foods
As mentioned above, the primary source of energy in this diet is fat. This is why you need to eat healthy but plenty fat filled foods. It is essential because the energy the body needs to work is derived from these healthy fats like oils from coconuts, olives, palms, butter from animals that feed entirely on grass, nuts and oily seeds. You will notice that aside from olive oil, all the other fats are saturated. They are perfect for the keto diet because they contain medium-chain triglycerides that instantly produce energy when delivered to the liver, hence reducing fatigue and also hunger.
There is no way a person can merely survive on fats because the body needs other nutrients for it to work well. This is why you should moderately include proteins in your meals. These protein sources should not contain starch and that is why it is essential to choose those that come from fish, poultry, cows, goats, and other animals that are wild and have been feeding purely on grass. Eggs from chicken that are free range as well as whole dairy products are also a wonderful source of proteins and fats which are good for this diet.
However, proteins like beans and other kinds of legumes should be avoided because they have starch components in them. If you have to eat them, it is advisable to eat in very small quantities.
Vegetable and fruits
There is a thumb rule that you need to follow when choosing veggies for this diet. Although all vegetables are good, the ones that grow below the ground contain starch, therefore they should be avoided. Pick those that grow above the ground as they contain very little to zero starch.
These include all vegetables from the cabbage family, cucumber, asparagus, green beans, zucchini, eggplants, tomatoes, capsicums, avocados, and green leafy vegetables. Below the ground veggies like carrots, onions and all kinds of potatoes are packed with carbohydrates. Including them in your diet will cause the body to stop producing ketones because it will resume its normal routine of burning starch and producing glucose for energy, thus messing up with your keto diet.
While we can’t completely eliminate fruits from our diet because of the vital nutrients they contain, there are some that need to be avoided. All fruits that have starch like bananas and apples should be avoided. Choose to eat those with low sugar content like wild berries.
Ideally, we survive on drinks that contain sugar and are probably made from fruits that have starch like bananas and oranges. These should be cut off from the diet. Choose to take milk and water because they have zero starch in them. Do not, however, take drinks derived from milk like shakes and smoothies because of the high sugar content in them.
Benefits of the keto diet
Before beginning this diet, there are benefits that we expect to gain from it. Below is a list of the benefits of a keto diet.
The most significant thing that we notice is the weight loss. This is caused by the action of the burning fat. The more fat you burn to produce ketones, the more weight you lose. All the fat deposits in the body will be depleted if you follow the strict rules when it comes to eating.
People suffer from acne because of excess production of sebum in the skin, which is as a result of too much insulin production in the body, caused by high blood sugar levels. When you are on a keto diet, you eat fewer carbs which means your body will not require a lot of insulin to regulate the blood sugar levels. This, in turn, reduces the amount of sebum produced and eventually clearing your skin.
Blood sugar levels control
If you suffer from diabetes then this is the diet for you. The little or no carbohydrate intake will reduce the amount of glucose your body produces. This means that the body will not need any extra help in terms of medication and insulin injection to regulate the levels of sugar.
Decreased sugar cravings.
When you eat foods low in carbohydrates, you tend to feel satiated for longer. This reduces your chances of snacking and more so on sugary things.
The above mentioned are just but a few benefits of this diet. Some of the other benefits include more muscle endurance during physical activities, mental focus, control of epilepsy, less gas production leading to calm stomachs, and reduced heartburns.
Helpful tips for achieving ketosis
For one to reach a state of ketosis where the fat burnt is turned to ketones, few rules should be followed.
- Reduce your intake of carbohydrates and proteins to minimal.
- Eat more fats so that the liver can get something to burn and turn into energy.
- Take more water which is essential for reducing hunger and hydrating your system.
- Jump-start your diet with a fast. Fasting causes your body to use up all the sugar and start burning fat deposits in the body to produce energy.
- Exercise more. This will allow you to reduce the levels of sugar in your body and eventually force your body to find an alternative source of energy.
For additional tips on how to get into Ketosis, visit https://www.ourpaleolife.com/how-to-get-into-ketosis/
How do I know if I am running on ketones?
You will experience symptoms like change in the smell of your breath and sweat, frequent urination, increased thirst, dry mouth, fewer hunger pangs and an influx in energy levels a few days after you begin the diet.
Finally, it is important to note that not everyone can work with this diet. If you have a medical condition that requires your sugar levels to be high or above average like type one diabetes, it is important to seek advice from your doctor before you begin.