Integrative Nutrition Blog
What Happens to Your Body on the Ketogenic Diet
Thinking about going on the keto diet? You’re not alone! It’s quickly gaining popularity as a weight loss diet, but it has actually been used for years in the clinical sense to help alleviate symptoms of neurological conditions like epilepsy.
How It Works
Essentially, the ketogenic diet is a high-fat, moderate-protein, and very low-carb diet. By limiting carbohydrates, you put your body in a state of ketosis – where ketones, created in the liver, help break down fat for energy.
Tanya Zuckerbrot, MS, RD, a NYC-based registered dietitian, bestselling author, and the founder of The F-Factor Diet, explains, “Typically, we get our energy through a process called glycolysis, which is how carbohydrates are broken down into glucose for energy. In glycolysis, there are higher levels of insulin that promote storage of body fat and block release of fat from adipose tissues, whereas in ketosis, fat reserves are released and broken down, so you don’t store them on the body, but use them.”
This is why many people find this diet so appealing; essentially, your body switches from using glucose (from carbohydrates) to fat as fuel.
This diet may sound great, but there are a few other things to consider before committing.
As your body switches from one energy source to another, you may notice you don’t actually feel that great. Symptoms like fatigue, bad breath, and brain fog are common when going keto. These may last a few weeks but will subside once your body has adjusted (as long as you’re following the diet).
Many find they lose weight when they start a ketogenic diet. However, much of this initial weight may be water weight (which means it’s easy to gain back). Continued weight loss may be due to the diet’s appetite suppressive effects. Restricting carbs also improves insulin sensitivity and can help decrease inflammation, meaning that circulating hormones are less likely to promote fat storage.
Still, maintaining weight loss may be tricky – particularly because of the restrictive nature of the die, which may make adherence difficult to maintain long-term.
As you remove many carbohydrates from the diet, you’re also removing a lot of fiber, which may lead to constipation. At the same time, eating more fat than you’re used to may lead to diarrhea.
To make sure you’re taking care of your gut, include probiotic sources in the diet and make sure the carbohydrates you do eat are high in fiber. Again, after a few weeks, these symptoms may subside.
At IIN, we don’t believe in any one diet. We know that what works for some won’t work for others. Although some people may thrive on keto, it will be particularly hard for people who avoid animal-based foods. Are you thinking of going keto or have you already? Please share your diet takeaways or concerns below!