What is a ketogenic diet?
The ketogenic diet is a very low carbohydrate diet that forces the liver to produce ketones for use as an energy source. The name of this food program was created in 1924 by the American researcher and nutritionist, Russell Wilder , at the Mayo Clinic .
The diet focuses on the consumption of natural fats, with the intake of suitable proteins to reach the optimum state of ketosis. This regimen limits carbohydrates from 2% to 5% of total calories, compared to Western diets in which people obtain between 45% and 65% of their energy from carbohydrate calories.
Ketogenic is not a diet high in protein, but in fats with a moderate intake of carbohydrates. A typical meal with this way of eating includes a little protein with butter, coconut oil , olive oil , beef fat, cream and other foods containing natural fats, along with some green leafy vegetables.
How the ketogenic diet works
Carbohydrates are the primary source for the production of glucose in the body. The glucose molecule is most easily converted into energy, so it’s the most immediate source of energy and the first to be used by the body.
When glucose is high in the blood, the body releases insulin. This a hormone produced to metabolize blood sugar.
The body converts high carbohydrate foods into glucose for energy use; the more carbohydrates are consumed, the more blood sugar rises. The excess glucose is then stored as fat, which acts as a “buffer” for the body, for the times when it will need energy in the future.
Over time, when insulin levels are kept raised, the body will change the way it receives it’s energy source. So instead of honing in on glucose as a natural energy source (which is what the body is designed to do). It will begin to store body fat as an energy source rather than glucose, which causes weight gain.
The main purpose of the ketogenic diet
Resetting the body back to using glucose the way it’s meant to is the primary reason for the ketogenic diet. It is this factor that leads to rapid weight loss.
By drastically reducing carbohydrate intake, the body is forced to use fat as an energy source. The process continues as follows:
- The liver converts fat into ketones.
- Ketones work as an energy source.
- The body reaches a state of ketosis.
Ketosis is the main goal of the ketogenic diet. In addition, ketones are an excellent energy source for the brain and heart.
The diabetic ketoacidosis, pathology is a totally different ketosis to the one within the ketogenic diet and should not confused.
In diabetic ketoacidosis, there are high level of blood glucose with high levels of ketones within the body; in the ketogenic program they are low glucose levels with high levels of ketones.
The body produces organic compounds (ketones) by a process of decomposition of fats in the liver during ketosis, whereby energy input not sourced from carbohydrates is achieved.
The body burns ketones as primary energy source; deprived of carbohydrates, it recharges itself with fats and proteins. An optimal level of ketones always favor body weight loss and improved physical and mental performance.
The ketogenic diet is not synonymous with hunger, but of extreme deprivation of carbohydrates.
Different types of ketogenic diet
There are several versions of the ketogenic diet:
1. Regular ketogenic diet: This type of ketogenic diet is very low in carbohydrates, high in fat and moderate in protein. Carbohydrates containing 5%, 20% and 75% protein fat.
2. Cyclic ketogenic diet: This diet has 2 cycles, 5 days of low carbohydrate diet, high fat, followed by a 2 day period of high -carbohydrate diet. It is used more for bodybuilders and there are few studies on this
3. ketogenic diet for athletes: This diet allows you to add carbs before training, it is best for people who do weights or some aerobic exercise.
4. ketogenic high protein diet: This diet is similar to the regular ketogenic diet, but includes more protein. It is used primarily for athletes. The proportions are: 5% carbohydrate, 60% fat and 35% protein. In this article we will only explore the regular ketogenic diet, the cyclical ketogenic diet is more for athletes and bodybuilders.
Benefits of the ketogenic diet
- The Ketogenic diet delivers weight loss
- Controls blood glucose
- Improves body energy
- Increases mental focus.
The ketogenic diet can help you lose weight
The ketogenic diet is an effective way to lose weight and reduce the risk of metabolic diseases. Research in recent years found that this type of way of eating is far more effective than a low – fat diet. ( 2 , 3 , 4) ( 5 )
It is easier to lose weight with the ketogenic diet without counting calories or being overly strict about portion controls.
A study in the UK found that patients with this program lost weight 2x faster than those with the recommended diabetic diet. Ketones increased and decreased blood sugar, helping improve insulin sensitivity. ( 6 )
Ketones increased, decreasing blood sugar which helped improve insulin sensitivity. ( 7 )
The benefits of weight loss in this diet is quickly evident in most people. Since there is very little carbohydrates being consumed, the body has to depend on fat for its main source of energy that it requires.
The body soon becomes a fat burning machine, considerably decreasing insulin levels.
By incorporating dietary oil “medium chain triglyceride” (MTC acronym) coconut oil, the production of ketones and, consequently, weight loss will increase.
Control blood sugar
This way of eating will naturally lower the levels of blood sugar. The ketogenic diet has also become popular for its effectiveness in preventing and controlling diabetes, in comparison to other low calorie diets.
Prediabetes or type 2 diabetes patients should consult their doctor before starting a diet of this type.
Increased mental concentration
Many people start the ketogenic diet and notice an improvement in their mental performance. This is because ketones are a major supplier of “fuel” for the brain.
By decreasing carbohydrate intake, high sugar spikes in the bloodstream is avoided, which favors better focus and concentration. High intakes of healthy fatty acids. included in the ketogenic diet, also has a beneficial impact on brain function.
Fats molecules are the highest performing energy when burned. It is the food that provides greater satiety, so when eating this way a person feels satisfied faster and for longer.
Control cholesterol and blood pressure
Low in carbohydrates, diets high in healthy fats have the ability to significantly increase HDL or good cholesterol fats, while lowering LDL or bad cholesterol.
The ketogenic diet will improve cholesterol levels and triglycerides, this is the main compound responsible for a buildup of plaque in the arteries.
Diets with very few carbohydrates proved more effective than other regimes in regulating blood pressure. Weight loss achieved with a ketogenic directly deals with blood pressure issues.
This diet has been successfully used since 1920 to treat epilepsy and remains one of the most used therapies with children suffering from this condition. The program also reduces drug doses while still providing good control of the condition. ( 8 ) .
Insulin resistance may end in type 2 diabetes if health is not adequately controlled. The ketogenic diet can help push insulin back into the healthier range.
High performance athletes benefit from optimizing the use of insulin, allowing for a diet with large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.
By reducing carbohydrate intake, metabolic changes in the body begin to take effect, this has a positive effect on the skin.
A study published in 2012 by the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health US highlights a decline in acne and skin inflammations as a result of the ketogenic diet. ( 9 )
Another study published in 2007, by the same institution, points to the probable relationship between high carbohydrate regimens and increased acne vulgaris.
Foods you can eat and you should avoid the ketogenic diet
The more carbohydrate intake is limited, the faster the optimal state of ketosis can be reached. To do this, plan your menu and check the carbs in what you will eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The main reason to do this is because processed foods are deceptively high in carbohydrates.
What are net carbs?
They are carbohydrates of a food minus the grams of fiber in it. For example, if you want to eat a cup of broccoli, this has:
- 6 grams of carbohydrates.
- 2 grams of fiber.
The result of the subtraction is the total net carbohydrates. In this case, four.
Intake should be 70% fat, 25% protein and 5% carbohydrate. Carbohydrates allowed (always count calories so you stay within the 5% daily limit) nuts, vegetables and dairy products.
Foods You Should Avoid In The Ketogenic Diet
These foods should be avoided or eliminated altogether, they are very high in carbohydrates.
Sugary foods: soda, fruit juice, milkshakes, cakes etc.
Grains or starches: Products based on wheat, rice, pasta, cereals, etc.
Fruit: All fruit except berries like strawberries.
Beans or legumes: peas, beans, chickpeas and lentils, etc.
Vegetables and tubers: potatoes, yams, carrots, turnips, etc.
Products or low – fat diet: These are highly processed and often rich in carbohydrates.
Some spices or sauce: These often contain unhealthy sugar and fat (Barbebue sauce, ketchup, salad dressings, etc).
Unhealthy Fats: Limit your consumption of processed vegetable oils, mayonnaise, etc.
Alcohol: Due to the high carbohydrate content, many alcoholic beverages harm your state of ketosis.
Food Diet Sugar: These often are rich in sugar alcohols, which can affect your ketone levels. These foods are highly processed.
Foods to consume In The Ketogenic Diet
Your meals should be based on these foods:
Meat: Red meat, meat, ham, sausage, bacon, chicken and turkey.
Fish: such as salmon, trout, tuna, and mackerel.
Eggs: Consume whole eggs containing omega-3.
Cream butter: Preferably coming from grass-fed animals.
Cheese: Cheese Raw (cheddar, goat, cream, blue cheese or mozzarella).
Nuts and seeds: Almonds, walnuts, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, etc.
Healthy oils: Mainly try to consume extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil and avocado oil.
Avocado: whole or freshly made guacamole, Avocados.
Low Carb Vegetables: The majority of green vegetables, tomatoes, onions, peppers.
Seasonings: You can use salt, pepper, herbs and spices.
Snacks You Can Eat At The Ketogenic Diet
The following are snacks to eat on a ketogenic diet.
- Fish or meat
- A handful of nuts or seeds
- Cheese with olives
- 1-2 boiled eggs
- Dark chocolate (90% or more pure cocoa).
- Low carbohydrate milk as almond milk, cocoa powder and almond butter.
- Yogurt mixed with almond butter and cocoa powder.
- Strawberries and cream
- Celery with guacamole and salsa
List of low-carb vegetables you can eat
Dark green vegetables are great allies with the keto diet. Ideally, many of the meals in this regime include vegetables, protein and a component that provides extra fat. This could be fillets of chicken breast sprinkled with extra virgin olive oil, more broccoli and a serving of feta cheese. It could also be a beef steak topped with some butter, plus sauteed spinach with olive oil.
The following are the best vegetable carbohydrates with lower grams of carbohydrates for every half cup:
- Raw spinach: 0.1 g
- Col china cruda: 0,2 gr
- romaine lettuce: 0,2 gr
- Steamed cauliflower: 0.9 g
- Cauliflower: 1,4 gr
- Raw cabbage: 1.1 gr
- Broccoli: 2.0 g
- Kale steamed 2.1 gr
- steamed green beans 2.9 gr
If you want the full list of low – calorie vegetables to reach ketosis click here .
Most dishes should be vegetable protein and fat added, for example, chicken with olive oil more broccoli with cheese. Almonds or some cheeses will serve to calm cravings during the day.
Not all fats are made equal. Some fried food, processed hamburger meat, margarine and other processed trans fats are definitely the fats you should avoid, while embracing natural fats such as coconut oil, avocado , olive oil.
How to calculate macronutrients
Macronutrients are fat grams, protein and carbohydrates you should eat in one day. To get the calories you occupy daily use this calculator. Use our macronutrients calculator to calculate the macronutrients:
Other benefits of the ketogenic diet
A low in carbohydrates and high in natural fats produces ketones diet is great for losing weight, slow aging, treat gastritis, fatty liver, and lower triglycerides.
The ketogenic used since 1921 in the treatment of refractory epilepsy in children with nearly 60% effective. ( 17 )