You may have heard of Keto as a new diet trend or fad diet, but there's a lot more to it than that. Keto is a diet that works to encourage ketosis, a natural metabolic process. Is it possible to aid ketosis with aloe vera? Let's investigate.
What is Ketosis and How Does it Work?
Ketosis is a natural process wherein the body essentially runs out of carbs, which it preferentially uses for fuel. Carbs, or carbohydrates, are a type of nutritional molecule present in a wide range of different foods, both good and bad. Simple carbohydrates are sugars, and complex carbohydrates are starches. Both are fine in moderation, but commercialized diets make moderation of anything difficult.
When your body runs out of carbs to burn for fuel, it has to find a backup plan. That backup plan is your body's fat. Body fat is stored energy, an evolutionary advantage allowing animals – including people – to store energy during periods of plenty like the summer, and release it during lean times, like the winter or damaging droughts.
The process of ketosis is your body taking stored fat and converting it into ketones, which can be used as fuel.
Ketosis is fine for the body, again in moderation. It's a natural process and it's the root of how weight loss occurs. Every diet, in some form, works to help your body burn fat through ketosis. Too many ketones, however, is a sign of ketoacidosis. All things in balance.
So what is Keto, then? Keto is simply the name for a diet where you consume as few carbs as possible. Ketosis can be initiated through a variety of different means; through lower food intake levels, through fasting, through heavy exercise, and through sculpted diets. Keto is one such diet.
How the Keto Diet Works
The Keto diet is specifically one variation of the ketogenic diet spectrum. The Atkins diet, for example, works in a similar way; it's a low carb, high fat diet. Atkins is a diet plan with defined phases, however, where Keto is simply a new lifestyle diet. Keto tends to allow more protein and less carbs than Atkins. Still, this isn't a post simply about the differences between those diets – we may do one later – but rather about Keto and aloe.
The basic elements of a Keto diet are to reduce carb intake as low as possible, increase fat intake for fuel, and maintain a moderate amount of protein intake. Balancing these factors, along with getting all of the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals your body needs to survive, is the crucial purpose of Keto.
Keto comes in several different varieties, depending on how you're able to manage your lifestyle, what tools you have access to, and how deep you want to go into the diet.
- Standard. This is a typical Keto diet, focused primarily on fats, with only 5% of your diet allowed to be carbs.
- Cyclical. Many people find Keto hard to maintain, so a cyclical Keto diet allows for periodic higher-carb days, to help manage cravings or rebuild after workouts. Typically this is 5 days of Keto and 2 days where more carbs are allowed.
- Targeted. This tends to be a sculpted diet that emphasizes diet in conjunction with exercise. Since your body needs carbs to repair the damage done by exercise and to build muscle, this version of Keto allows more carbs surrounding workouts.
- HP. The HP Keto diet is a high protein variation, with lower fat intake and still low carbs.
Since Keto diets are relatively new, few long-term studies have been performed about their effects over time and with long term health. However, since Keto was initially invented to help with seizures, and it is known to help with certain forms of diabetes, it's generally viewed to be a healthier-than-baseline way of dieting.
Keto can be a pretty beneficial diet in a few ways. You often tend to reduce carbs by reducing a lot of sugary snacks and other less healthy foods, many of which are packed with calories as well. Thus, Keto is usually a caloric reduction as well as a reduction in carbs. Once you wean yourself off of sugar addiction, you crave it less, and can handle Keto more easily.
Keto is also a very flexible diet. Since it mostly just deals with high-level macronutrients rather than specific ingredients, you have a lot of options for Keto-friendly meals. Keto can be gluten-free. Heck, even though Keto focuses on higher intake of fats and proteins, it can even be a vegan diet. You have to be strict with it, but it's entirely possible.
So What About Aloe Vera?
So where does aloe vera come into all of this? You've probably come across aloe vera before, though you may not have known it's even edible, let alone good for you.
Aloe is a succulent plant originally found in the Arabian Peninsula, though it has since been spread and cultivated in tropical areas around the world. It has both dietary and medicinal properties, and has even been used as a cosmetic.
The thick, fleshy leaves of the aloe plant contain a gel-like substance which can be used and processed into a variety of different forms. One, as you might infer from the topic of this post, is a juice for human consumption.
One of the most common forms of aloe is in medicinal form. Aloe vera gel or cream has been used for treating wounds, for soothing burns, and even for skin conditions such as psoriasis. Few studies have shown evidence of its properties for treating things like herpes, but then, what product doesn't have people claiming uses it doesn't have?
Dietary aloe has been used as an ingredient in some yogurts some beverages, and even some desserts. Aloe juice is commonly sold in Asian supermarkets and health food stores in America.
I should caution you that aloe can be very toxic in its raw form. If you're interested in aloe vera juice, get the juice from a supplier, don't try to grow and process your own aloe unless you really know what you're doing.
The Potential Benefits of Aloe Vera Juice
Aloe vera juice has the potential to be a useful supplement for any diet, and with Keto in particular. So what benefits does it have? Well, it's tricky. Aloe juice has not been evaluated by the FDA or been the subject of long-term studies that show significant benefits.
Additionally, keep in mind that aloe juice comes in several forms. Aloe gel – that has been processed to remove the toxin aloin – can be consumed on its own. Aloe juice typically mixes aloe gel with a citrus juice. Aloe water takes aloe gel and mixes it with water to thin it out without altering the flavor or including additives. All of these can have different health impacts that have yet to be deeply studied.
So, keeping all of that in mind, what are some of the potential benefits of aloe in liquid form?
- It's packed with vitamins and minerals. Aloe juice can be a good additive to other foods and beverages, particularly smoothies and some desserts, to give them more nutritional value without adding much in the way of carbs.
- Aloe contains some chemicals with mild laxative properties. While "it's a laxative" doesn't sound like a benefit, a low level of laxative combined with plenty of dietary fiber can help aid your digestive system.
- It may help with ulcers and ulcerative colitis. A study from 2004 in the UK showed that a preparation of aloe juice was better than a placebo in water for patients with ulcerative colitis.
- Aloe vera juice can help reduce natural water retention. In addition to fat, water retention is a prime source of weight gain. Aloe allows for beverages that help minimize water retention without simply reducing water intake, which can be detrimental.
- The concentration of vitamin B in aloe can help boost your metabolism. Vitamin B helps convert fat into ketones – sound familiar? – and boosts your energy level by providing your body with more energy.
- Aloe contains electrolytes, which help stabilize energy levels and prevent dehydration. Aloe juice or aloe water, then, will help with keeping you hydrated throughout the day, and can help keep you away from those sugary drinks you'd otherwise crave.
- Aloe juice contains some amino acids that your body craves.
Pretty much all of these benefits come from the array of vitamins and minerals present in aloe vera, as well as aloe juice replacing worse drinks in your diet. Again, the specific health benefits of aloe vera juice have not be substantively studied or proven in any way yet.
How Aloe Juice Helps With Ketosis
Remember the core pillar of ketosis: eating few enough carbs that your body has to process fat into ketones for fuel. Aloe itself is not a high-carb ingredient. At the baseline, drinking aloe vera or eating it as part of a dessert can be an option to replace sugary – and thus carb-full – food items.
One thing to be cautious of is aloe vera juices that are supplemented with a lot of sugar. Some aloe juices have added sugar to make them more palatable as a casual beverage, but those added sugars can easily exceed a ketogenic diet's carb limit on their own. As with any sort of diet, you need to make sure you're looking at labels and studying ingredients before you consume them.
For more specific instructions, simply consume a small to moderate amount of aloe juice or aloe water each day. Make sure to work it into part of your diet plan so you aren't exceeding your limits on other ingredients or accidentally overdosing on some minerals. Generally, your body will be able to handle an excess, but you don't want to make a habit of overconsumption.
Make sure that, if you're keeping up a low-carb diet, you're watching all sources of carbs. Many people try to take it easy with their diets and "cheat" with a small snack here and there, without realizing that each snack is setting back their progress significantly. Ketosis must be carefully managed and maintained. It's not instant. Your body has to use up the carbs it already stores before it can enter ketosis, and can very easily leave ketosis if too many carbs are consumed. Always track your diet carefully to make sure it's accomplishing what you want while you still get enough nutrients.
If you're keeping raw aloe around, or regularly consuming aloe in a beverage, make sure to keep it away from your pets. Aloe can be toxic to dogs and cats, and you don't want to sacrifice the health of your pets in your own search for weight loss.
Make sure you're getting your aloe products from a reputable source. Supporting local businesses or making your own aloe products at home can be admirable, but consuming too much aloe when it has not been process to remove the aloin can be toxic.
As always, if you are regularly consuming aloe vera and you experience the symptoms of toxicity or any adverse side effects, talk to a doctor and cease consumption. Additionally, make sure your doctor is aware you're taking aloe as part of your diet if you're consuming it regularly. Treat it as you would any supplement and exercise due care.