The ketogenic diet is an eating plan that is high in fat and very low in carbohydrates.
The main goal of the diet was not initially to lose weight. It has been used for centuries to treat specific medical conditions. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, it was initially used to control diabetes. In 1920 the ketogenic diet was introduced as an effective treatment for epilepsy in children in whom the medication was not effective.
The keto diet has also been tested and used in tightly controlled settings for cancer, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Unlike other low-carbohydrate diets, such as Paleo, South Beach, and Dukan, which are high in protein but moderate in fat. The ketogenic diet is distinguished by its exceptionally high-fat content, albeit with a moderate protein intake.
Ketogenic diets can cause reductions in blood sugar and insulin levels so it is beneficial to health from that point on.
How do you lose weight on the keto diet?
By not getting enough glucose, instead of using carbohydrates for energy, the body burns an alternative fuel called ketones from stored fat, and in doing so enters a state called ketosis.
Various studies have found people on a ketogenic diet lost 2.2 times more weight than those on a low-fat, calorie-restricted diet.
The keto diet has also been recognized to improve glycemic control and promote the reduction or elimination of medications in volunteers with type 2 diabetes.
Although the ketogenic diet is safe, there may be some side effects at first until the body adjusts, such as the famous keto flu, which lasts only a few days.
Keto flu causes decreased energy and mental capacity, increased hunger pangs, sleep problems, nausea, digestive upset, and decreased exercise performance.
To minimize this problem, you can try following a standard, low-carb diet for the first week. This could teach the body to burn more fat before it eliminates carbohydrates completely.
A ketogenic diet can also change the body’s water and mineral balance, so you can add extra salt to your meals or take mineral supplements.
When it comes to minerals, aim for 3,000 to 4,000 mg of sodium, 1,000 mg of potassium, and 300 mg of magnesium daily to minimize side effects.
At least, in the beginning, it is important that you eat until you feel full and that you avoid restricting calories too much. Typically, the ketogenic diet causes weight loss without an intentional caloric reduction.
Versions of the ketogenic diet
The ketogenic diet allows foods high in fat:
- Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD): This is a very low carbohydrate, moderate protein, high-fat diet. It typically contains 75% fat, 20% protein, and only 5% carbohydrates.
- Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD): This diet involves periods of higher carbohydrate refeeding, such as 5 keto days followed by 2 high carbohydrate days.
- Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD): This diet allows you to add carbohydrates around workouts.
- High Protein Ketogenic Diet – Similar to a standard ketogenic diet, but includes more protein. The ratio is often 60% fat, 35% protein, and 5% carbohydrates.
- Most ketogenic plans allow for foods high in saturated fat like nuts, seeds, avocados, and vegetable oils.
Foods to eat
To achieve ketosis, you should base most of your meals on these foods:
- Nuts and seeds: almonds, walnuts, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, etc.
- Healthy oils: mainly extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, and avocado oil.
- Avocados: Whole avocados or fresh guacamole.
- Low carbohydrate vegetables: most green vegetables, tomatoes, onions, peppers, etc.
- Seasonings: You can use salt, pepper, and various healthy herbs and spices.
Foods to Avoid
Any food high in carbohydrates should be avoided.
Here is a list of foods that should be reduced or eliminated on a ketogenic diet:
- Sugary foods: Soft drinks, fruit juices, smoothies, cakes, ice cream, sweets, etc.
- Cereals or starches: Products derived from wheat, rice, pasta, cereals, etc.
- Fruit: All fruits except the small portions of berries, such as strawberries.
- Beans or legumes: Peas, red beans, lentils, chickpeas, etc.
- Root and tuber vegetables: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, etc.
- Diet or low-fat products: They are usually highly processed and rich in carbohydrates.
- Some condiments or sauces: Especially those that contain sugar and saturated fat.
- Saturated fats: Limit the intake of refined oils, mayonnaise, etc.
- Alcohol: Due to their high carbohydrate content, many alcoholic beverages must be eliminated on a ketogenic diet.
- Diet foods without sugars: They are usually rich in alcohols of sugar, which can affect ketone levels. These foods also tend to be highly processed.
Supplements for a ketogenic diet
Taking supplements can be very helpful.
- TMC Oil: Add to drinks or yogurt as it provides energy and helps increase ketone levels.
- Minerals: Add salt and other minerals when you start the diet, as it can be important to balance water and mineral levels.
- Caffeine: Caffeine may have benefits for energy, fat loss, and performance.
- Exogenous ketones: This supplement could help increase ketone levels in the body.
- Creatine: Provides numerous benefits for health and performance. It can help you if you combine a ketogenic diet with exercise.
A great tip to maintain your keto diet is to consume our keto-vego bars, which apart from being delicious have a high nutritional value.