In recent decades there has been much talk about low carbohydrate diets, but the diet that has maintained its fame from generation to generation and the one that is receiving special attention today is undoubtedly the ketogenic diet, also known as the “keto diet.”
What is the Ketogenic Diet?
It is a very low-carb, high-fat diet that has been shown to be beneficial for stable weight loss, increasing energy, and promoting cognitive health and hormonal balance. Likewise, it helps reduce risk factors for chronic diseases such as hyperglycemia, high blood pressure and hypertriglyceridemia (excess triglycerides in the blood).
With the keto diet, the body Enters a Metabolic State of Ketosis:
- The immediate energy source (glucose from carbohydrates) is drastically reduced.
- The body needs to find alternative energy sources.
- You start to burn more fat and produce higher amounts of ketones (small molecules that contribute to energy metabolism).
To get the body into the metabolic state of ketosis and stay that way while producing ketones for a constant energy supply, it is necessary that at least 75% of daily calories come from high-fat foods. With no carbohydrates or glucose, the body depends on the fat it gets from your diet, as well as body fat, which helps stable weight loss.
Tips to Achieve a Greater Effect with the Keto Diet:
- Get the Fat from Unprocessed Foods
If you want to prevent or reverse symptoms of poor health, I recommend doing the ketogenic diet from a holistic perspective. By this I mean that you should opt for healthy, whole foods that are rich in fat. A good example would be olive or coconut oil, avocados, nuts, fatty fish, and grass products (butter, eggs, and meat from grass-fed animals).
On the other hand, you should avoid processed foods: meat products (bacon or salami, for example), low-quality meat from factory-farmed animals, processed cheeses, farmed fish, products with a high content of synthetic additives and refined vegetable oils (rapeseed, sunflower, safflower, etc.). These products are rich in fat, but they are not quality fats, so they can cause adverse health effects. Here’s a list of best keto foods you should definitely checkout.
- Don’t Forget to Eat Vegetables!
Non-starchy vegetables are also the key to success, providing the body with important vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. So now you know, include a handful or two of this vegetable in your meals! On the other hand, remember to cut down (or avoid) starchy vegetables like potatoes, beets or squash, because they make the ketosis process difficult.
- Don’t Eat too Much Protein
One of the factors that differentiates this diet from other low-carbohydrate diets is that it incorporates less protein and more fat. The amount of protein should be moderate (around 15% of the daily caloric intake). In turn, carbohydrate intake has to be reduced to 5-10% of the caloric intake (which is equivalent to about 25-35 grams per day).
That is Good to Know:
Even if you seriously restrict your carbohydrate intake, it is important to eat an adequate number of macronutrients because it ensures that your body enters a state of ketosis and produces ketone bodies (which are the key to making you feel better physically and mentally). If you eat too much protein, it can turn it into glucose, which is counterproductive in the process and can prevent you from entering the state of ketosis.
- Try to Fast Intermittently
Intermittent fasting has a positive effect on hormones, blood sugar regulation, inflammation levels, and detoxification, so it is a good strategy to enhance the results of the ketogenic diet. Both strategies work well together because ketone bodies reduce appetite, so it is not so difficult to go without food for a while.
Fasting has been shown to help regulate hunger hormones (leptin and ghrelin) and insulin sensitivity, while also contributing to weight loss. You can start fasting intermittently by limiting the time you dedicate to food each day to about 4-9 hours (so you will fast for about 15-20 hours) or fasting on alternate days (this will reduce your caloric intake by 75%, 1- 2 days a week).
- Hydrate well and consume Enough Electrolytes
While on the keto diet, you have to make sure you maintain good hydration throughout the day: in addition to a good amount of water, it is recommended that you include herbal teas, natural juices, organic coffee, green tea and bone broth. It is also good that you consume some salt (the best options are sea salt and Himalayan salt), to ensure an adequate intake of potassium, magnesium and other electrolytes. Electrolytes can help with digestion and with muscle and cell functions, as well as with sleep, energy, and mood.
Despite being very different from the low-fat diets that are recommended for weight loss, the ketogenic diet is considered safe and healthy for most people. However, it is not recommended (especially without professional monitoring) for people with a history of diabetes, liver and kidney disease, eating disorders, and genetic defects that interfere with fat absorption.
Temporary Side Effects of Diet
Some people may experience side effects from the ketogenic diet when they enter ketosis, but symptoms usually go away within a week or two. Side effects are usually headaches, lack of energy, cravings, weakness, and brain fog.