In the diet world, low-carbohydrate and high-protein nutrition plans are some of the most popular options. These are commonly referred to as a ketogenic or keto diet. Unlike many low-carb diets, which focus on an increased protein intake, a true keto diet is centred around fat. The idea is to increase your fat consumption in place of carbohydrates to supply as much as 90% of your daily calories.
The keto diet has a long-standing history in science with potential health benefits against diabetes, cancer, epilepsy, and Alzheimer’s disease. While research remains inconclusive, the keto diet is also followed in popular culture as a method of weight loss. For those interested in nutrition and health, here’s a closer look at the theory and benefits of the keto diet.
What Is the Keto Diet?
The ketogenic diet involves greatly reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat. When you significantly reduce your carbohydrate intake, you limit the supply of glucose – the body’s main source of energy. This initiates the metabolic state of ketosis, in which your body uses fat for fuel, instead of carbohydrates. To effectively enter ketosis, carb consumption must be reduced to around 20 to 50 grams per day. In place of carbohydrates, the majority of meals should be based around:
- Fatty fish – salmon, tuna, mackerel
- Butter and cheese
- Nuts and seeds
- Healthy oils
In addition to fats, low-carbohydrate vegetables offer a good source of nutrition. Students in nutrition and health training will learn the fundamentals of nutritional assessment and the impact of different diets in order to develop, implement, and evaluate nutrition care plans.
Theory Behind the Keto Diet for Those in Nutrition and Health Training
The basic theory behind low-carbohydrate diets is that they help the body burn extra fat, which in turn promotes weight loss. When the body enters ketosis, it becomes far more efficient at burning fat for energy. On the other hand, eating carbohydrates increases insulin production, which encourages the body to store fat and limit calorie burn. This hypothesis implies that by replacing carbohydrates with fats, you can:
- Suppress hunger
- Boost calorie burn
- Reduce fat
- Reduce the body’s need for insulin
A more conclusive area of research is the benefit of the keto diet for managing Type 2 diabetes. When the body doesn’t produce sufficient insulin – as with Type 2 diabetes – it cannot move glucose from the blood into cells for energy. Carbohydrates increase blood glucose levels. If you reduce carbohydrate intake, you can prevent a spike in blood glucose levels and reduce the need for insulin to manage blood sugar levels. In that way, the keto diet can improve blood sugar management by cutting down carbohydrates. Students earning their certificate in nutrition will learn how nutrition influences individual health and how diet changes can treat different ailments.
The Risks of a Keto Diet
While the ketogenic diet boasts a number of benefits, it also comes with a number of risks to consider. First and foremost, a diet high in saturated fats has been linked to heart diseases and other health conditions associated with increased cholesterol. In the long term, the negative effects of the keto diet may include:
- Low protein
- Extra fat in the liver
- Kidney stones
- Nutritional deficiencies from diet limitations
Over time, these risks can develop into more serious health conditions if left unattended. As a nutrition and health professional, it’s important to understand the interaction between diet and health so that you can offer informed advice on the best nutrition care plans throughout your career.
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