If you are interested in healthy eating and trends in nutrition, you have certainly noticed a phenomenon called the ketogenic diet in recent years.
Its effects cannot be praised by many celebrities and it is recommended by more and more doctors and health professionals.
But what is the reality? Will a keto diet help you lose weight in the long run and provide your body with everything it needs?
How the keto diet works?
The ketogenic diet is a type of low-carb diet with a higher fat content.
The main goal is to put the body into a metabolic state called ketosis, through reduced carbohydrate intake.
Under normal circumstances, glucose is the main source of energy for the human body and its cells.
This carbohydrate is normally stored in the liver and muscles in the form of a complex glycogen sugar and from there, if necessary, is released into the blood as a source of energy.
However, during ketosis, the body does not have enough blood sugar to draw energy from its own fat stores.
The name ketosis is derived from ketones, which are fatty acids that begin to be produced in the liver during ketosis, which then serve as the body’s energy store.
Scientific research has shown that it is necessary to eat less than 50 grams of carbohydrates per day to achieve ketosis.
An intake of around 20 grams of carbohydrates per day is considered ideal for a keto diet.
The minimal amount of carbohydrates in the diet logically means that there is more room left for the other two macronutrients, ie protein and fats.
There is no ideal ratio of individual macronutrients in a keto diet.
However, it is most often recommended to draw 70–80% of the daily caloric intake from fats, 10 –20% from protein and the remaining 5–10% from carbohydrates.
With a generally recommended daily intake of 2,000 kilocalories for an adult, this would in practice mean eating about 165 grams of fat, 75 grams of protein and 40 grams of carbohydrates.
Compared to other types of low-carb diets, the ketone protein intake is relatively low.
This is because the amino acids in proteins can be converted to glucose, which would prevent them from reaching ketosis status.
It’s not just about losing weight
A ketogenic diet brings benefits other than weight reduction.
Studies have confirmed a reduction in carbohydrate intake with a reduction in insulin resistance, in which the body cannot use its own insulin properly.
This hormone controls many important bodily processes. The transition to a low-carbohydrate diet is also associated by some research with a decrease in high blood pressure, even before the weight loss itself.
Other benefits include that following the principles of the ketone diet should prevent feelings of starvation.
Fat has the highest saturating effect of macronutrients, so its high proportion in the diet reduces the feeling of hunger.
At the same time, low levels of carbohydrates reduce the levels of appetite stimulating hormones such as insulin and ghrelin.
Risks of the keto diet
All diets, which work on the principle of a significant increase or decrease in the intake of some of the macronutrients, carry certain risks.
So what are the disadvantages of the keto diet?
With a high fat content in the diet, there is an increased risk of heart disease.
Care must be taken to ensure that “bad” fats, ie saturated fatty acids, do not exceed 7% of your daily calorie intake.
In addition, dietary fats are metabolized in the liver, so their high consumption is a burden for this organ.
Therefore, it is better to add healthy fats to your diet. Which are they?
Another problem with the keto diet is that it does not allow you to eat lots of healthy foods, including many fruits and vegetables.
The body does not get important vitamins and minerals from the diet.
Some people on the ketogenic diet may have digestive problems (most often constipation) because their diet contains few high-fiber foods such as cereals and legumes.
We must also not forget the possible nervousness and mood swings, which are demonstrably associated with low sugar levels in the diet, and therefore in the blood.
What to eat during a keto diet?
We already have the theory, but what exactly does the diet on a keto diet look like?
Ideal are foods that hide a minimum of carbohydrates and consist mainly of fat and protein.
These parameters from animal products are best met by meat, including fish and seafood, eggs, cheese, butter, cottage cheese or Greek yogurt.
Nuts and seeds are also very suitable for the keto diet, because most of them contain little carbohydrates and, conversely, a high proportion of healthy fats.
But not all nuts and seeds fit the keto diet. Due to the higher carbohydrate content, cashew nuts, pistachios or flax and sunflower seeds, for example, are not suitable.
On the other hand, hazelnuts, which are rich in minerals and proteins, or crispy macadamia nuts, are an excellent choice because they have up to 77% fat.
From the seeds, reach for, for example, lesser-known cannabis seeds with a share of gamma globulin to strengthen immunity.
Although fruit is a delicious source of vitamins, it also contains a lot of carbohydrates, so it is generally not suitable for the keto diet.
If you can’t imagine a day without fruit, reach for berries such as blackberries, strawberries or blueberries.
The low-carbohydrate content also boasts freeze-dried raspberries, which in combination with real unsweetened whipped cream and high-percentage chocolate will conjure up the perfect keto dessert.
Vegetables are slightly better off with carbohydrates than fruits.
For example, you can indulge in leafy vegetables and various types of salads or cucumbers, celery and radishes almost to an unlimited extent.
Cauliflower, cabbage and zucchini are also great for the keto diet.
We highly recommend trying freeze-dried broccoli, which is full of vitamins and minerals and perfectly complements vegetable salads and other low-carbohydrate dishes.
Sweets are on the list of sins for almost every diet, and this is doubly true for ketone.
Because the goal is to eat as few carbs as possible, it is necessary to reduce not only sugary drinks, desserts, sweets, cereals and pastries, but also most side dishes, including potatoes, rice, pasta and legumes.
Most fruits and even some foods you wouldn’t expect are high in sugar – salad dressings, sweetened yoghurts or dried meat, which are often flavored with sugar-containing spices.
Some vegetables, such as corn and carrots, are also rich in sugars.
Forbidden include any caloric sweeteners, including healthier versions such as honey or maple and agave syrup.
Artificial sweeteners, such as sucralose, do not contain any carbohydrates and therefore a minimum of calories.
It is therefore suitable for the keto diet in this respect.
On the other hand, it is definitely not a healthy part of the diet, so it is better to avoid these sugar alternatives.
For whom is the keto diet suitable
If you are now considering trying a keto diet, think about your current health and habits.
The basis of the keto diet is a low carbohydrate intake, which does not cause problems for someone, but someone simply cannot function without enough blood sugar.
If you are one of them, start eliminating sugar from your diet gradually.
With the keto diet, a lot of common foods are blacklisted, so over time it may seem monotonous.
However, the result of this diet is longer-term feelings of satiety, which is very important in terms of physical and mental sustainability of each diet.
Whatever diet you choose, always pay attention to your health limits.
As with other diets where the ratio of individual macronutrients is significantly skewed, you need to consider whether this route is right for you.
If you want to drastically change your diet, we recommend consulting a nutritionist.