The world of diets is quite extensive. There are several options, adapted to different goals and different types of people.
Some diets with plenty of followers, especially diets whose purpose is weight loss, are low-carb diets.
Do you know why? Because
“(…) evidence suggests that greater dietary restrictions lead to greater weight loss.”
Usually, in low-carb diets, the consumption of protein is favored.
But there is one case that has been gaining more and more fans. A diet that gives priority to the consumption of fats over protein or carbohydrates: the ketogenic diet.
Have you tried it? Do you know what it is? In this article, you’ll get to know the basic principles of this diet, what its benefits and possible disadvantages are, and which foods you should include in this diet!
What is the ketogenic diet?
The Ketogenic Diet is a diet characterized by having a low content of carbohydrates, a high fat content and a moderate protein content.
According to Wajeed Masood and Kalyan R. Uppaluri, the division of macronutrients should be:
- 55% to 60% fat
- 35% protein
- 5% to 10% carbohydrates (maximum 50g/day)
Carbohydrates are the main source needed for the production of energy in our body.
When we deprive our body of this type of energy source, it is forced to look for other sources of energy, and that is where fat comes in.
In deprivation of other energy produced based on the consumption of carbohydrates, the body uses the so-called “ketone bodies”, a type of energy source produced by the liver through the accumulated fat – this process, we call ketogenesis.
This diet is commonly used for fast weight loss.
- When we consume carbohydrates in excess, they are stored in our body as fat.
- The liver metabolizes fatty acids and ketone bodies, and these are used as a source of energy by our body.
This way, the accumulated fat in our body is used/spent by our body to produce energy, in other words: fat reserves decrease and, consequently, there is weight loss.
This is one of the main benefits of the ketogenic diet.
Advantages and disadvantages of the Ketogenic diet
What are the benefits of the ketogenic diet?
The Ketogenic Diet, besides being widely used for weight loss, proving to be quite effective in weight loss treatments, in the short- and medium-term, may be advantageous as an integral part of the treatment of various health problems, such as: obesity, type II diabetes, or epilepsy.
What are the possible disadvantages of this diet?
The disadvantages of this diet are directly related to some of its possible negative effects.
The article: “A Low-Carbohydrate, Ketogenic Diet versus a Low-Fat Diet To Treat Obesity and Hyperlipidemia” describes the behavior of individuals who followed this type of diet, and the main negative effects observed are:
- Muscle fatigue
- Lack of essential nutrients, such as some minerals and vitamins
However, these are predominant symptoms at the beginning of the diet, that tend to decrease or disappear over time, or that may be avoided when the diet is accompanied by some supplementation.
Attention! If you exercise intensely, this diet may not be the best option for you, also because it’s a diet that may contribute to the loss of muscle mass.
Some theories point to other disadvantages, but the studies are still inconclusive:
“Although various studies have examined the short-term effects of a ketogenic diet in reducing weight in obese patients, its long-term effects on various physical and biochemical parameters are not known.”
Which foods should you include in your diet?
An increased intake of saturated fats is one of the consequences of this diet. Although it isn’t the worst option in the world of fats – trans fats are a much worse option and their consumption should be avoided – there are healthier options, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Recommended foods during this process are:
- Fats: nuts, seeds, olive oil, palm oil, coconut oil, butter, coconut butter and lard
- Protein: meat, some of the most common being beef, bacon and pork, fish, especially salmon, cheese, eggs, seafood, and Greek type yogurts
- Fruits and vegetables: low-carbohydrate vegetables, such as spinach, broccoli, courgette, Brussels sprouts, avocados and other low-sugar fruits, such as red fruits
Supplements that can help you during this process
Supplements that can be an additional help during this process are Multivitamins to replenish some vitamins and minerals that may be in deficit due to food restrictions.
Diuretics may also play a relevant role, because much of the weight lost comes from fluid retention, which translates into a decrease in body volume.
The Ketogenic diet can be an excellent option to control or lose weight, especially in the short- or medium-term.
Meta-analysis suggests that when following a diet of this type, there may also be a decrease in appetite due to ketosis.
It may be a solution to take into account in cases of obesity, where rapid weight loss may be advantageous for these individuals.
However, it should not be a long-term diet. It should be seen as a treatment for a quick goal, but not as a lifestyle.
Carbohydrates are necessary for the correct functioning of our body and there are no reasons to restrict them from our diet.
There are high-quality nutritious carbohydrates, such as complex carbohydrates (cereals in their whole form: dark bread, whole-grain rice and pasta, etc.).
If you are thinking about starting a ketogenic diet, seek professional advice from a nutritionist, for a balanced and controlled diet.
If you have any questions, I’m always available to help you!