The Ketogenic Diet
The ketogenic diet may be a trendy buzzword in the health and fitness community, but it’s actually been around since the 1920s. It was originally invented to help treat children with epilepsy and it’s still occasionally used for this purpose today.
It follows a low-carb, moderate-protein, and high-fat ratio of macronutrients resulting in the body shifting from running on from carbohydrate-derived glucose, to burning fat for energy instead. This reduces seizures in patients who suffer from epilepsy, but the main reason you’ve likely heard of “keto” is because of its effectiveness for weight loss. Some individuals choose to follow a keto diet temporarily to give them a boost in their weight-loss efforts, while others find it sustainable long term.
A liquid keto diet is a newer concept that combines a keto protocol with a liquid diet. It falls under the increasingly popular umbrella of diets and fasting for health. There are several types of liquid diets ranging from water fasts, juice cleanses, a clear liquid diet, or simply consuming any foods that aren’t solid.
These are also generally used for weight loss, but they can be helpful to ease digestive issues or prepare and recover from surgery involving the digestive tract. Unlike keto, liquid diets are very rarely used long-term unless it’s medically required. Because of this, a liquid keto diet used for weight loss purposes should only be followed temporarily and under the supervision of a medical professional.
Nutrition for Teenagers
While both liquid diets and keto diets are commonly followed and can be used safely, extra precautions should be taken for teenagers interested in trying a liquid keto diet. Young teenagers are still growing and maturing into adults, so they need suitable nourishment to thrive and develop properly. They need to consume enough calcium to build healthy bones and teeth, protein for muscle development, healthy fats for brain development, iron for blood health, and much more. It’s possible to meet these nutritional requirements on a liquid keto diet, but worth mentioning that particular care should be taken to ensure there are no adverse health effects in this vulnerable population.
Despite the risks of malnutrition if a liquid keto diet is improperly followed, many teenagers also stand to receive great health benefits from temporarily following this diet. Obesity and overweight are on the rise in teenagers globally, and this comes with a long list of dangerous health effects. Obese teenagers are more likely to experience serious health problems like diabetes and heart disease later in life. They might also experience depression, bullying, and self-esteem issues in young life while struggling with weight issues. It’s essential to weigh the risks of a short-term diet against the risks of being chronically overweight. In many cases, it’s well worth following a liquid keto diet for a period of time to assist with healthy weight loss and boost a teen’s overall well-being.
How To Follow a Liquid Keto Diet
So what exactly does a liquid ketogenic diet for teens look like? It should contain good amounts of high-quality protein, plenty of fibrous fruit and vegetables in the form of soups and smoothies, as well as healthy fats to help with satiety. Fat, protein, and fiber are the three most important nutrients that will help a teenager feel full, so consuming a balance of all three with adequate calories at every meal is recommended.
- Bone broths
- Plain Greek yogurt
- Protein-rich soups
- Coconut oil
- Spices and herbs
- Gelatin-rich low-sugar jello
- Low-carb ice cream
- Herbal teas
- Dairy milk
- Low-sugar kombucha
- Flaxseeds, chia seeds, nut butter, and hemp seeds (in smoothies)
- Protein powder
- Meal-replacement drinks
Foods to Avoid
- Sodas and sugary juices
- Honey, maple syrup or other high-sugar sweeteners
- Starchy vegetables (corn, potatoes, squash etc.)
- Legumes (chickpeas, lentils, black beans etc.)
- High-sugar dairy or jello
This diet is highly restrictive so it’s again important to note that it isn’t a sustainable long-term way of eating, but following this protocol carefully for a few weeks or even just days under supervision can result in a host of benefits. In addition to effectively helping with weight loss, a liquid keto diet can reduce signs of metabolic syndrome, improve insulin sensitivity, and give the digestive tract a much-needed break to recover from highly inflammatory foods.
Many of the foods included in a liquid keto diet are excellent for repairing gut health which can improve digestion well after the period of following the diet is passed. The gut microbiome is incredibly essential for overall health since it’s directly linked to the brain via the gut-brain axis. It can have profoundly positive effects on mental health. Improving the gut microbiome by avoiding high-sugar foods and consuming bone broths and foods rich in probiotics are all great tactics to improve over health through a liquid keto diet.
A final benefit of a liquid keto diet is its ease of use. There is very little gray area between what sorts of foods are allowed or discouraged and what preparations are simple. Often weight loss efforts are sabotaged by the difficulty of sticking to a diet. Complex recipes, expensive ingredients, and unsatisfying foods all make it hard to stay on track. The liquid keto diet on the other hand is simple and can often even be purchased through a meal delivery service to make the experience completely hassle-free. The keto diet is also known to reduce sugar cravings which makes following the diet require far less willpower than many of its alternatives.
Assessing the risks of a liquid ketogenic diet is perhaps the most important step to take before beginning this change. It’s entirely possible to consume too few calories on a liquid diet, which can harm normal growth and development in teens, cause brain fog, low-energy, and nutrient deficiencies. Making sure the meals are balanced, packed with nutrition, and contain enough calories is the best way to avoid this risk.
Another risk to consider is the occurrence of low blood sugar which results in shakiness, fatigue, and sweating. This is incredibly dangerous if not quickly addressed and is a particular concern for individuals with type 1 diabetes. This sort of diet is not recommended for those with type 1 diabetes, and should likely generally be avoided if you suffer from any sort of medical condition unless specifically recommended by a trusted health practitioner.
Overall, this diet has its uses and its limitations. It’s an excellent tool for teenagers looking for a jumpstart in their weight loss journey to improve overall health, but it should be followed carefully with expert guidance from a doctor or dietitian.