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Published on November 2, 2018

The Truth Behind Keto Weight Loss: Does This Diet Plan Actually Work?

The Truth Behind Keto Weight Loss: Does This Diet Plan Actually Work?

In the past few years, more and more people have started to suffer from obesity, with associated heart and metabolic problems. If you are struggling to keep your weight under control, you are also probably worrying about additional problems such as hypertension and diabetes.

People who fight weight gain have indeed a genetic predisposition, but they also need to make a few lifestyle changes, especially with regard to their lifestyle and caloric intake. It has been demonstrated that regular physical activity, as well as dietary habits can promote weight loss and allow one to maintain the same weight on a regular basis.

In this article, we will look into the commonly known keto weight loss diet and explain to you whether it works or not.

What Is the Ketogenic Diet?

The ketogenic diet has been presented as one of the most effective approaches for quick weight loss.[1] Indeed, this nutritional approach has a solid basis, allowing one to lose excess pounds and return to a healthy figure. And as you will see for yourself, it can even improve cardiovascular health.

The main idea behind this diet is to drastically reduce the carb intake, so the body begins to use the ketone bodies produced by the liver as energy. As the glucose levels decrease and the fuel for the body changes, significant weight loss will occur.

This condition was first noticed in individuals who were fasting; at the beginning, the ketogenic diet was used for those who suffered from epilepsy. It was only recently that researchers began to recommend it for weight loss purposes.

Benefits of the Ketogenic Diet

It has been confirmed that this dietary approach can help one fight obesity, as well as high cholesterol levels. It can improve cardiovascular risk factors, protecting one against stroke and atherosclerosis.

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You might not be aware of this for a fact but the ketogenic diet can suppress the appetite. This is related to the fact that one consumes more proteins, which have a higher satiety effect.

It is also worth mentioning that such changes can keep the appetite control hormones in check. Proteins have a thermal effect, contributing to the activation of the metabolism.

Ketone bodies cause a number of changes within the body, contributing to the suppression of the appetite in a direct manner. They prevent the body from storing fat, while activating the metabolism and promoting the fat-burning process. Thus, one experiences a higher metabolic efficiency, consuming more calories in the process.

When formulating the best diet plan, you have to consider the ketogenic diet among your first options.[2] Keep in mind that this diet can help you lose excess weight and offer a wide range of other benefits.

For example, the ketone bodies produced in the liver can provide protection against cognitive impairment (associated with weight gain and obesity in general). The dietary approach can reduce the risk of cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and epilepsy.

It can even be of use to those who suffer from Parkinson’s disease and it facilitates recovery in patients diagnosed with brain injuries. The ketogenic diet does wonders for those with polycystic ovary syndrome and acne; this is related to the reduction in insulin levels.

The Physiological Changes Associated with This Diet

What happens is that, upon reducing the carb intake, a metabolic condition known as physiological ketosis occurs.[3] This is when the body runs out of glucose, using ketone bodies (resulted through ketogenesis). When these began to be used as energy, weight loss occurs as a natural consequence.

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As the glycemic level begins to stabilize, the weight loss process occurs. The risk of metabolic syndrome is reduced, which increases the life expectancy for the person in question. The bad cholesterol level is reduced and so is the one of triglycerides (associated risk of cardiovascular disease).

The metabolic rate is altered and physiological changes occur. While the lean body mass is preserved, the fat mass begins to be consumed and weight loss is no longer difficult. Interestingly, all of these changes do not have a negative effect on the metabolism of glucose (eliminating of insulin resistance).

What Happens When You Consume Carbs in High Quantities

Unfortunately, the modern diet is associated with a high consumption of carbs. The rates of obesity have increased only in the past few years, when more and more people have fallen prey into the trap of carbs.

The excessive intake of carbohydrates can lead to weight gain and obesity in most cases. A diet rich in carbs has a negative influence on the insulin resistance. Moreover, it increases glucose levels and reduces the level of good cholesterol.

All of these changes translate into a higher risk of diabetes and heart problems, as the metabolism is disturbed.

How It Feels to Follow the Keto Approach

The reduction of carb intake, associated with a higher consumption of proteins, has proven to be quite beneficial (both physically and mentally). The sensation of lethargy, normally caused by the increased carb intake, disappears and the mood improves.

At the beginning, one might have difficulties reducing the carb intake. However, as the body accustoms to these dietary changes, the sensation of hunger disappears and one is less tempted to give into cravings. As the fat metabolism is improved, one begins to notice the weight difference and feel better overall.

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Tips for Successful Weight Loss

When it comes to weight loss tips to remember, this is the most important one:[4]

You need to make sure that your daily carb intake does not exceed 20 grams, regardless of how much fat or proteins you plan on consuming that day. The intake of carbs should not be influenced by the total caloric intake.

The transition from your regular diet to the ketogenic approach should not take place all of a sudden. You need to take a gradual approach, so that your body has the necessary amount of time to adapt to the new diet.

In order to facilitate this transition, you can opt for meals that mimic regular, carb-rich foods. These will help you stay on the diet and achieve your weight loss goals, without too much effort.

What Foods Are Allowed to Eat?

If you have decided to go on the ketogenic diet, you need to up your protein intake. You are allowed to consume lean meat, such chicken, eggs and dairy products, such as full-fat cheese. Fatty fish, such as tuna and sardines, as well as seafood is allowed.

You can also consume olive oil and flax seed oil as these deliver beneficial fats to the body. Vegetables such as spinach, cucumber, lettuce, celery, cauliflower, eggplants and carrots are allowed. As for fruits, you can consume berries of various kinds, citrus fruits, tomatoes and avocados.

Do not be afraid to consume olive oil of good quality as this is one of the best food products for someone who is on a weight loss diet. In the Mediterranean area, olive oil is eaten in generous quantities and the people here do not suffer from obesity (also have a reduced risk of heart problems).

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What Foods Are Restricted?

Simply put, you need to drastically reduce the carb intake. This means that you should eat white flour products, potatoes and pasta as little as possible. The same goes for bread and rice.

It is important to be aware of the fact that carbs are found in other food products, especially in sweets. Stay away from sweets, cakes and other similar items that are rich in sugar. Of course, fruit juices and soft drinks are on the no list.

The Truth: Does the Ketogenic Diet Actually Promote Weight Loss?

In the introduction, we have talked about obesity and the risks associated with weight gain. The ketogenic diet can reverse such changes, allowing one to keep the hunger sensation under control and reduce the intake of food.

Proteins are a big part of this dietary approach, offering a prolonged satiety sensation. On the other hand, both carbs and fat are less filling, causing one to feel hungry quicker.

As one begins to consume more proteins, the sensation of hunger appears at longer intervals. The ketogenic diet will not cause one to feel hungry all the time, presented a higher success rate than other dietary approaches.

As the carb intake is reduced to the lowest possible level, the ketogenic state will occur and the body will no longer rely on glucose for fuel. The ketone bodies produced in the liver, from the fat reserves, will act as fuel.

It is important to understand that the body needs time to adapt to the state of ketosis. You need to pursue the dietary approach and not be satisfied with the initial weight loss, which is due to the diuresis process. Soon, you will see that your body has begun to burn fat efficiently, allowing you to return to a healthy figure.

The ketogenic diet presents a number of advantages, starting with the fact that you have plenty of allowed foods to organize your daily meals. Moreover, you can follow this diet, without having to count calories or keep track of how much food you have eaten.

Featured photo credit: Khamkhor via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Evlin Symon

Evlin Symon is a health and wellness expert specialized in fitness, weight loss, pregnancy, nutrition and beauty.

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Published on November 14, 2018

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

Symptoms of Fatigue

Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

  • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
  • mental blocks
  • lack of motivation
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • muscle weakness
  • slowed reflexes and responses
  • impaired decision-making and judgement
  • moodiness, such as irritability
  • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
  • reduced immune system function
  • blurry vision
  • short-term memory problems
  • poor concentration
  • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

Causes of Fatigue

The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

  • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
  • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
  • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
  • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

Medical Causes of Fatigue

If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

Anemia

Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

Diabetes

Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

Thyroid disease

An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Too much sleep 
  • Alcohol and drugs 
  • Sleep disturbances 
  • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
  • Poor diet 

Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

  • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
  • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
  • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
  • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

Psychological Causes of Fatigue

Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

  • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
  • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
  • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

1. Tell The Truth

Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

  • How you feel
  • What time of day it is
  • What may have contributed to your fatigue
  • How your mind and body reacts

This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

2. Reduce Your Commitments

When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

4. Express More Gratitude

Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

5. Focus On Yourself

Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

7. Take a Power Nap

When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

8. Take More Exercise

The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

9. Get More Quality Sleep

To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

10. Improve Your Diet

Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

11. Manage Your Stress Levels

Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

12. Get Hydrated

Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

The Bottom Line

These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
[2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
[3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
[4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
[5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
[6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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