by Shanice Miranda, Cora Health.
Let's face it- There is no quick-fix solution when it comes to your health. It requires time and effort to understand what your take on 'healthy' looks like. With the influence of mainstream media, some women feel the need to initiate extreme diets. When we expect instant results, this can lead to harmful effects like eating disorders. The desire to lose weight should not arise from feelings of inadequacy, but rather from a willingness to become the strongest version of you. Although it may seem daunting, diets like the ketogenic one have been shown to have numerous benefits for women. To get the most out of any diet, we must absorb all the right information from the right sources and mould it to suit our goals.
Buckle your seatbelt as we embark on this journey together- even if you are just starting out
What Is A Keto-Diet?
In the food world, wherever you look, you will probably notice the word KETO- But what does that mean? A keto diet offers a whole new perspective on the way your body gets energy from food. It is a low-carb, high-fat diet that shifts the metabolism of carbohydrates to that of fats. The carb intake is limited to 20 to 50g a day so that your body has no choice but to derive calories from the fats. This process of metabolism is called ketosis (1). The type of fats consumed should strictly be from healthy sources. It is also important to note that these high-fat foods can have high-protein content. Since protein can be converted to glucose, the amount of protein in a keto-diet should be moderated. To confirm that you are in a state of ketosis, look out for tell-tale signs like excessive sweating or your breath may smell like nail polish remover?!
Why Go Keto?
1. Weight Loss
Losing weight doesn't always have to be about counting calories. With a keto diet, it is possible to burn extra fat without restricting your calories. Several studies have revealed the positive effects a ketogenic diet can have on weight loss, which is comparable to many low-fat diets as well (2). This can help you stay on track and it decreases the concentration of hunger-inducing compounds like insulin. As you are eating lesser carbs, the amount of water in your body will also reduce. This will lead to rapid weight loss in the initial stages. To avoid dizziness and dehydration, drink salt water to compensate for the water loss.
2. Control Your Blood Sugar and Cholesterol
For those of you who must manage the symptoms of type II diabetes, a keto diet may be worth looking into. Carbohydrates get broken down to form sugar in the bloodstream so a low-carb diet can be beneficial to keep it under check. Cutting out carbs also reduces insulin drastically which can help resist the effects of insulin resistance. It has also been demonstrated that this diet can increase the high-density lipids in the body and decrease the dangerous low-density lipids (3). This suggests wonderful implications against cholesterol.
3. Manage PCOS
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a hormonal disorder that affects the reproductive system of women. It imparts various undesirable symptoms like acne, depression and weight gain. PCOS is correlated with insulin resistance as well, for which a ketogenic diet may offer some relief.
The concentrations of male hormones such as testosterone increase in women struggling with PCOS (4). A keto-diet can lower the quantity of these hormones in the body and inhibit the side-effects in this manner. This disorder is a tricky one to handle where diet and exercise make all the difference. Experimenting with an assortment of diets could help you find the right one for you!
How To Get Started:
The general guidelines suggest that fats should make up 75% of your calorie intake, while proteins should make up 5%. There are distinct types of keto diets you can follow according to what your body needs.
- Cyclic keto diet: This means you follow the keto guidelines 5-6 days a week. This is utilized by athletes to replenish muscles after strenuous physical activity.
- Targeted keto diet: In this type, you must follow the guidelines with one exception- before you hit the gym. Then you can indulge in a (healthy) carb-loaded meal to improve energy and performance.
- Vegan keto diet: This may be an onerous task as you must determine alternative sources to meat like tempeh and other soy products.
Foods You CAN And CANNOT Eat:
Have fun with the options you have to include in your diet. When you approach food with an open mind, the possibilities are endless. Here's what you can put into your shopping cart and what you should avoid:
You do not have to give up on your favourite dishes and snacks. You can eat seafood, low-carb vegetables (cauliflower, zucchini, olives to name a few..), certain kinds of cheese, avocados, meat and poultry, eggs, greek yoghurt and paneer, nuts, seeds, berries, unsweetened coffee and tea and so much more. Doesn't sound too bad, huh?
Here's what you need to be wary of – Bread/baked goods, sugary foods and beverages, pasta, grains, starchy vegetables like potato and pumpkin, certain fruit like citrus and banana and certain alcoholic beverages such as beer.
Your body knows what it needs, it takes some patience to truly understand what is right for your unique self. Sometimes you may find that putting in the work reaps better rewards. We women tackle so many obstacles on a day-to-day basis. We must always bear our well-being in mind so we can fully experience all the fantastic parts of life! Stay strong ladies and celebrate yourselves as women wholeheartedly.