The ketogenic diet is very popular these days. Focused on low carbohydrate and high lipid consumption, this diet seems particularly popular with athletes and people wishing to lose weight. But is this really a miracle recipe? Is this diet suitable for all audiences? Find out everything you need to know about the keto diet.
What is the ketogenic diet?
The ketogenic diet, also known as the keto diet (or ” low carb ” in English) is a deliberately low-carb diet. Conversely, this extremely strict diet encourages foods rich in lipids such as vegetable oils, cheese, fatty fish, eggs or cold meats, up to 80% of the daily energy intake. The goal is to achieve a state of ketosis.
For a daily diet of 2,000 calories, this concretely consists of ingesting 1,600 calories from fatty substances. The rest of the intake comes from protein, up to 300-400 calories, followed by carbohydrates for just 100-200 calories. Thus, this diet recommends not to consume more than 50 grams of carbohydrates per day.
Originally conceived to meet patients’ needs with pathologies such as epilepsy, the ketogenic diet is now also used by athletes wishing to promote weight loss. This diet indeed causes a feeling of satiety.
How does the keto diet work?
The principle of this diet is relatively simple. It aims to force the body to draw energy from fatty substances by significantly reducing glucose intake (this sugar stored in the body is normally the primary energy source for cells). In other words, the ketogenic diet mimics the mechanism of fasting.
More specifically, the body can no longer produce energy from glucose; it will find an alternative source in the carbohydrate reserves stored in the body. This leads in particular to a significant loss of water, which is primarily responsible for reducing weight.
The body then uses lipids and fats to generate energy while producing waste products called ketones. The accumulation of these wastes in the blood leads to ketosis, marked by bad breath and a marked decrease in appetite. Food consumption is, therefore reduced, which promotes weight loss.
What foods are allowed and prohibited in this diet?
All foods high in fat are recommended as part of the ketogenic diet. Concretely, the daily diet must include vegetable oils, whether it is coconut oil, flaxseed oil or olive oil and coconut milk. It is the basis of all ketogenic diet recipes.
Likewise, foods such as green vegetables low in carbohydrates (lettuce, spinach, broccoli, etc.), fatty meats and fish (beef, pork, salmon, sardines, etc.), eggs, dairy products such as butter or cream, avocados or even tofu should be favoured.
Finally, it is also advisable to favour oilseeds. Almonds, pistachios, coconut, chia or sunflower seeds or cashews are the ketogenic diet’s best allies.
Conversely, all foods rich in carbohydrates will be banned from the diet. Thus, carbonated drinks are to be excluded, as are bread, pastries and pastries, pasta, rice, wheat, honey, maple syrup, corn, legumes or dairy products with a high content of carbohydrates yoghurt.
Potatoes, carrots or sweet potatoes are also discarded, without forgetting most fruits (apples, bananas, tangerines, pears, pineapples, dates, kiwis, melons, etc.). Only fruits low in carbohydrates such as berries or oranges can be consumed in very small quantities.
What are the benefits of the keto diet?
The “low carb” diet has several benefits. First, it allows the body to learn how to produce energy from fat. This increases endurance, which explains why this diet is particularly adopted by athletes practising sports such as running.
It also helps in losing weight to some extent.
But this low-carbohydrate diet is especially relevant for people with certain illnesses. For example, for type II diabetes, this diet will allow the pancreas to generate less insulin, which stabilizes blood sugar. The same is true for pathologies such as cancer insofar as cancer cells’ proliferation, which consumes large amounts of sugar, will be limited.
For patients with epileptic seizures or affected by Alzheimer’s disease, the keto diet may reduce the inflammation responsible for the brain’s pathology.
What are the dangers of the ketogenic diet?
While this diet can be effective in some cases, it is not suitable for everyone. For example, it isn’t easy to adapt to it, both physiologically and in everyday life. Extremely restrictive can cause side effects related to the lack of glucose such as nausea, headaches or a feeling of general fatigue. Likewise, it is complex to reconcile with a social life.
By using a low carbohydrate diet, the food balance will be truncated. This, therefore, goes against the grain of the recommendations for a balanced and healthy diet, with the elimination, for example, of fruits and vegetables.
Likewise, the foods allowed in this diet are mainly derived from animal products, the excessive consumption of which in the long term can cause health problems.
In conclusion, the ketogenic diet will prove difficult for the vast majority of individuals to apply. If your goal is to lose weight, it is better to eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly. On the other hand, it has significant advantages for high-level athletes who are perfectly supervised or for people with certain pathologies.
Also read our post about green juice and it’s benefits .