What is the ketogenic diet or keto diet?
In the ketogenic diet, you eat a lot of fatty foods and exclude everything (or almost everything) that contains carbohydrates and sugar, which account for 60–70% of all calories in a normal diet.
With the keto diet (in English it sounds much more sophisticated) the calories come from fat, 20-30% from protein, and only 10% from carbohydrates.
Special attention is paid to carbohydrates: you can not eat more than 50 grams a day, regardless of the weight and calorie intake of each.
Fats can be obtained from vegetable oils (olive oil is the best), meat, fish, cheese, unsweetened yogurt, eggs, avocados, and nuts.
Most of these products contain enough protein to meet the daily norm: 1.5–2 g per kilogram of body weight. Carbohydrates will be obtained only from vegetables, fruits without sugar, and legumes.
As you can read, refined flour and sugar are completely banned.
To follow the diet correctly, you must put aside the old customs of accompanying each dish with side dishes of rice, pasta, or potatoes. Absolute prohibition of sweets and alcohol.
Why do you lose weight on the ketogenic diet?
Carbohydrates are the body's main fuel. When we consume less than 50 g of carbohydrates per day, the reserves in the body are depleted within 24 hours, and the body begins to break down fat and use fatty acids for energy.
However, not all organs can feed on fat: the brain only needs glucose or some kind of replacement.
To produce the necessary glucose, the liver begins to produce ketone bodies or ketones, from fatty acids acetoacetate, which later becomes beta-hydroxybutyrate, which feeds the brain, heart, kidneys, muscles, and other tissues.
As an exchange product, acetone is formed, therefore its concentration in the body is greatly increased.
In general, ketones are produced in the body constantly, their concentration in the blood is about 0.2-0.5 mmol / l.
When its level rises to 0.5–5 mmol/l, dietary ketosis occurs. It is not dangerous to health, unlike ketoacidosis, in which the concentration of ketone bodies rises to 10-25 mmol / L. This condition occurs in people who are starving.
Although calorie intake is not reduced, in a state of ketosis, the body begins to get rid of fat, and this is because since the level of glucose in the blood tends to zero, the production of the hormone insulin is inhibited and, with it, lipogenesis (the storage of fat in reserve)
Also, the ketogenic diet reduces appetite.
How much weight can you lose on a ketogenic diet?
- Well, as in almost everything related to the human body, it will depend on each person.
- In several studies, and following a strict ketogenic diet, losses of between 3.2 to 12 kg in six months have been verified.
- If we look at the average value of all the results in the review, we would be talking about 6 kg in 6 months.
Who should try a keto diet?
Despite the complexity of the first few days and the strict restrictions, for some people, a ketogenic diet is ideal. It's worth a try for:
If you can't live without it, and you don't really care about sweets and bread, a ketogenic diet is a good option for you.
Those who want to lose weight without losing muscle mass
We are not going to gain more muscle mass and put on more ''bricks'', but it is true that we are not going to lose any muscle mass we have, since, as we have already mentioned, protein is the cement that muscles use to build themselves and keep.
People with type 1 and type 2 diabetes
- Due to malfunctions in insulin production, diabetics are forced to take this hormone to avoid sudden increases in blood sugar.
- The keto diet greatly reduces the intake of sugars. Likewise, we recommend talking to your doctor before starting this diet, or any other.
Those who care about brain health
- It has positive effects on mental and emotional health. Anxiety is closely related to sugar highs and lows in our body and brain.
- As if that were not enough, it seems to have positive effects on neuromuscular and neurodegenerative diseases.
- Dietary ketosis improves memory in the deteriorating brain and helps with tedious and annoying migraines.
Those who want to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis
- The ketogenic diet favorably affects serum biomarkers for cardiovascular disease in normal-weight men.
- The amount of "bad" cholesterol and fat in the blood is reduced, and the percentage of "good" increases.
For those who are afraid of cancer
Eating a hypocaloric high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet for 12 weeks reduces C-reactive protein and increases serum adiponectin and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol in obese subjects. In oncology, this fact is studied.
Runners and triathletes
If you are an endurance athlete, a ketogenic diet can improve adaptation. Improves exercise performance and the body's responses to training.
Who should not follow a ketogenic diet?
This diet is contraindicated in:
- People with kidney or liver disease.
- For people with brittle bones. (Possible side effects of the diet include progressive loss of mineral content.)
Is it difficult to follow a ketogenic diet?
To be honest, this is not the easiest diet, especially at first. When the body begins to experience a lack of glucose, symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, headaches, fatigue, dizziness, insomnia, etc.
may appear this has an easy explanation: Sugar can be easily compared to a drug, in fact, the chemical formula of sugar is very similar to that of cocaine (it's very curious).
As with all drugs, when the intake is suppressed, the withdrawal syndrome appears progressively. These effects, known as the KETO FLU, can last anywhere from two days to several weeks.
In this case, it is not recommended to consume more carbohydrates to alleviate the symptoms, since the only thing that we will achieve is to prolong them.
For certain drugs, experts recommend accompanying detoxification with the help of pills such as anxiolytics. Sugar is a drug, but it is not comparable to cocaine, for example.
So, abstinence is the best option to eliminate these effects as soon as possible.
If we fail and break the diet, the body will receive the desired glucose, go out of ketosis, and have to repeat it again.
This is the difficulty of maintaining a diet. On the other hand, it can also be an advantage: you know that after the relapse you will have to go through an unpleasant adaptation again, so it will be easier for you to endure.
How to do a ketogenic diet?
Personal trainer and nutritionist John Fawkes teaches us how to get started on the ketogenic diet.
Pre-adaptation (2–4 weeks)
- Introduce 40–80 g of coconut oil into your diet to provide your body with beneficial medium-chain triglycerides. They are rapidly absorbed, are not stored in fat, and are processed in the liver.
- Instead of oil, you can consume nutritional supplements to induce ketosis and reduce symptoms associated with the diet.
- Reduce your carbohydrate intake to 100 g per day. With this amount, you will not go into ketosis, but you will get used to eating less carbohydrate-rich foods.
Entry into ketosis (4 days)
Skip breakfast and lunch, and we will fast all day until the night. At dinner, there should be no more than 200-300 kcal, 10-15 g of protein, and 15-30 g of fat. Carb free.
Eat the same portion for breakfast and lunch, and for dinner – ⅔ of your usual meal. Carb free.
For breakfast and lunch, you can eat ⅔ of the usual portion of food, and prepare a full dinner. Still no carbs.
Eat your usual portions. These can include non-starchy vegetables and sugar-free fruits.
During this phase, the training we normally do (weights, running) is better replaced by long walks. This will burn glucose and help us get into ketosis more quickly.
If during the walk we feel that the legs are exhausted, this is a good sign: the glycogen stores are almost depleted.
Continue to take coconut oil or an exogenous ketone supplement and we'll add vitamins or an electrolyte drink.
Adaptation (2–4 weeks)
- It will take several weeks for you to fully adapt to the diet. Right now, we want to keep carbs to within 30g per day, if you're committed, and 20g, if you're a little less.
- You should keep in mind that at the beginning, the energy level will be slightly lower. This is normal and will gradually go away.
How long should a keto diet stay and how does it stops without gaining weight?
- A ketogenic diet can last anywhere from three weeks to a year.
- There is no point in following a diet for less than three weeks, because during that time the body will go through keto-adaptation, and you will only be starting to reap the benefits of the diet.
- As for diets that last more than a year, there is not enough scientific data to judge them, but eating this way throughout life seems a priori a bad idea.
- Prolonged ketogenic diet increases the risk of hepatic steatosis, hypoproteinemia, kidney stones, and vitamin and mineral deficiency.
The good news keeping the weight off after the ketogenic diet is not as difficult as it may seem.