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Benefits and side effects of the keto diet for weight loss

Benefits and side effects of the keto diet for weight loss

Benefits and side effects of the keto diet for weight loss

The ketogenic diet (keto for short) has become an increasingly popular way to lose weight quickly and efficiently. This low-carb, high-fat diet puts the body in a metabolic state called ketosis, which promotes fat burning and weight loss. But does the keto diet really work for weight loss, and is it sustainable in the long term? This article will explore the science behind the keto diet, its potential benefits and side effects, and pass judgment on its effectiveness.

 Ketogenic diet

The keto diet is all about eating very few carbohydrates, moderate amounts of protein, and high amounts of fat. This macronutrient ratio causes the body to enter a metabolic state called ketosis. During ketosis, the body switches from burning primarily glucose (sugar) for energy to burning fat primarily as ketones. This transformation promotes rapid weight loss by tapping into your body's fat stores for energy.

Benefits of keto for weight loss

There are several ways the keto diet can promote weight loss:

1.Fat Burning - By depleting carbohydrate stores and shifting the metabolism to burning fat, keto directs the body to burn stored body fat for energy resulting in weight loss.

2. Appetite suppression - Ketosis has been shown to have an appetite suppressing effect by regulating hunger hormones such as ghrelin. This results in lower calories.

3.Increase energy - Burning fat provides more consistent energy compared to carbohydrates, resulting in less fatigue and increased mental clarity.

What is ketosis and how does it work?

Ketosis is a metabolic state in which the liver breaks down fat into fatty acids and ketone bodies for energy, rather than breaking down carbohydrates (glucose). This occurs when carbohydrate intake is very low, usually less than 50 grams per day. To reach ketosis, about 75% of calories must come from fat, 20% from protein, and only 5% from carbohydrates. When the body is in ketosis, it uses ketones (instead of glucose) as fuel, which promotes weight loss.

The ketogenic process works as follows:

  • Eating too few carbohydrates lowers insulin levels and depletes the body's glucose stores.
  • The liver begins breaking down fats into ketones to use for energy instead of carbohydrates.
  • Ketones transport energy to cells for use as a new primary energy source when glucose is not available.
  • The body uses fat stores for energy, which leads to weight loss.

Macronutrient ratios in the keto diet 

To achieve ketosis, the keto diet typically recommends the following:

  • 60-75% of calories come from fat – high amounts of healthy fats from oils, meat, fish, nuts and seeds.
  • 15-30% of calories from protein – moderate protein from meat, fish, eggs and dairy products.
  • 5-10% of calories come from carbohydrates - a very low percentage of carbohydrates from non-starchy vegetables.

Keto foods to eat and avoid

Keto-approved foods include:

1.Meat: beef, chicken, lamb, etc.

2.Fish and seafood: salmon, trout, tuna, mackerel, etc.


4. Non-starchy vegetables: greens, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, etc.

5. High-fat dairy products: cheese, butter, heavy cream

6.Nuts and seeds: almonds, walnuts, flax seeds, etc.

7. Healthy oils: olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil

Foods to avoid on the keto diet:

1. Grains: bread, pasta, rice, oats, etc.

2.Starchy vegetables: potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, etc.

3. Legumes: beans, lentils, chickpeas, peas, and others.

4. Fruits: Especially fruits that contain a high percentage of sugar, such as apples, bananas, and grapes.

5. Sugary foods: candy, ice cream, cakes, sweets, soda.

6. Processed foods: packaged snack foods and fast food

Possible side effects of the keto diet 

Although effective for weight loss, the keto diet has some potential side effects and drawbacks:

1.Keto Flu – Transitioning into ketosis can sometimes cause flu-like symptoms for a few days such as headaches, irritability, fatigue, cramps, and brain fog. Staying hydrated and getting enough electrolytes can help reduce symptoms.

2. Nutrient deficiencies – The keto diet is restrictive so you can be deficient in nutrients such as fibre, magnesium, potassium, folate, and vitamins C and K. Taking nutritional supplements or multivitamins can prevent deficiency.

3.Ketoacidosis - This is a rare but serious condition caused by very high ketone levels. Diabetics need to be careful when entering ketosis.

4.Sustainability – Low-carb diets can be difficult to maintain for life. The restrictive nature makes it difficult for some people to maintain the keto diet.

Does keto help you lose weight?

Based on currently available research, the keto diet appears to be very effective for short-term weight loss. However, there are some caveats. There are also conflicting results about whether the keto diet can lead to fat loss and weight maintenance in the long term. The sustainability of this restrictive eating pattern is questionable for many people. But in order to start losing weight and get rid of stubborn body fat, the keto diet can succeed when it is followed correctly and combined with exercise and healthy habits. This is especially true for those who suffer from obesity or diabetes.


For many people, the keto diet can be an effective weight loss tool if followed correctly. But like most restrictive diets, long-term sustainability is low for some. Permanent weight loss requires lifestyle changes, not just a temporary diet. The keto diet may provide quick results at first, but must be done with medical guidance and combined with exercise, healthy eating habits, and portion control. Whether the keto diet is right for you depends on your health history, goals, and ability to stick to strict restrictions over the long term.