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How does the ketogenic diet work?

How does the ketogenic diet work? / Image by Sarah Kallend from Pixabay
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How does the ketogenic diet work?

How does the ketogenic diet work? The goal of radical renunciation is that the body switches to fat metabolism. The keto diet works similarly to the low-carb diet, except that fewer carbohydrates are allowed. With balanced nutrition, the carbohydrates supplied to the body are used as energy suppliers. 

If these are not available to it, however, since they are not taken up or hardly taken up over the food, the metabolism changes in the direction of a so-called Ketose: Fats are transformed in the liver into ketone bodies, which serve as glucose substitute. You can check our article “Habits That Cause Body Fat“.

These are then used instead of carbohydrates for energy production and ensure, for example, that our brain remains efficient. The body is put into starvation metabolism and burns more fat for energy due to the lack of carbohydrates.

What is allowed and not allowed to eat on the ketogenic diet?

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What is allowed to eat on the ketogenic diet? / Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

Allowed foods on a keto diet:

  • Healthy oils so as olive and coconut oil
  • Fish such as salmon, trout, tuna
  • Any meat like steak, chicken, ham, turkey, bacon
  • Low carbohydrate vegetables like spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber
  • Eggs
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Dairy products such as cheese, cream, milk, butter

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Foods are not allowed on a keto diet. / Image by Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay

Foods not allowed on a keto diet:

  • Fruits, except for small amounts of berries
  • Grains/cereal products such as bread, pasta, cereal
  • Sweets and cakes
  • Tuberous and root vegetables
  • Legumes

We should meet keto diet energy needs according to the following ratio:

  • 0 % fat
  • 35 % proteins
  • 5 % carbohydrates

Consequently, the ketogenic diet is affluent in fat and protein, such as egg dishes for breakfast, salads or vegetables with roasted meat and avocado for lunch and dinner, and nuts as a snack. The menu of the ketogenic diet does not allow much leeway.

How long can/should one do the ketogenic diet?

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How long can/should one do the ketogenic diet? / Image by Juraj Varga from Pixabay

For most, it takes about 5-7 days to reach the desired state of ketosis. That is until the metabolism is switched to the point where the body gets its energy from fat. 

Theoretically, you can then follow this extremely low-carbohydrate diet until the desired weight loss has occurred. However, those who practice the method for a more extended period should eat as varied as possible and include enough vegetables in the menu. 

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Otherwise, there is a risk of undersupply of essential nutrients.

Which fats should be consumed in the ketogenic diet?

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Which fats should be consumed in the ketogenic diet? / Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

Since most of the energy in this no-carb diet is taken in from fat, it’s essential to make sure you get it from healthy fats. For example, sauté your vegetables in coconut oil, eat your salad with good olive oil, or add a dash of flax oil to your cottage cheese. 

Also, good fat sources are avocados, which we can quickly scoop out with a bit of salt and pepper. Nuts and seeds as a bite between meals fit in any purse and are ideal for on the go.

What vegetables do allowed on the ketogenic diet?

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What vegetables do allowed on the ketogenic diet? / Image by Aline Ponce from Pixabay

Even if there are no restrictions in terms of vegetables in many other diets, the keto diet must also be careful here. For example, root vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, or beets contain comparatively many carbohydrates and must be avoided. 

Watery and low-carbohydrate varieties are allowed, such as spinach and other leafy vegetables, cucumbers, zucchini, mushrooms, or tomatoes. 

As a rule of thumb, vegetables that progress below ground are off-limits. Anything that we may eat sprouts above ground. In most cases, green vegetables contain only a few carbohydrates. 

The ketogenic diet as therapy

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The ketogenic diet as therapy. / Image by Denise Husted from Pixabay

The extreme renunciation of carbohydrates is not only supposed to help people who want to lose weight. It is also used in medicine for various clinical pictures and complaints. 

For example, the ketogenic diet is recommended for children with epilepsy, type 2 diabetes, or Alzheimer’s patients. 

Also, heart illnesses, acne, and cancer illnesses are partially prescribed as supporting measures, always in consultation with the physician.

People with liver or kidney diseases should refrain from the keto diet without consultation with the doctor. This diet is also unsuitable for pregnant, sick, or underweight people.

Sport and a ketogenic diet

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Sport and a ketogenic diet. / Image by Sergey Gorbachev from Pixabay

This type of highly low-carbohydrate diet is prevalent among athletes. Thus, some marathon runners and triathletes use it in the phase of competition preparation. The change in diet trims the body to obtain energy from fat stores. On the day of the race, easily digestible carbohydrates are then incorporated back into the diet. In this way, the body gets quick energy in sugar but still runs on fat metabolism due to ketosis and can thus withstand long loads for longer.

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Strength athletes use the effects of the ketogenic diet more for optical reasons: The body is drained, and thus the muscles stand out better and are more clearly defined.

Tip: Snack Ideas for the keto diet

You can remove the skin and stone from avocados and cut the flesh into wedges as a snack idea. Wrap a slice of bacon around each avocado wedge and fry in a hot pan until crispy all around.

Fat Bombs are a popular snack among keto followers for in-between meals. They are homemade, small, praline-like snacks usually based on coconut oil, cocoa butter, or other very fatty ingredients. In addition, depending on the recipe, cocoa powder, nuts, nut puree, or the like are added.

Does losing weight with the ketogenic diet work?

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Does losing weight with the ketogenic diet work? / Image by Rafif Al Hashmi from Pixabay

Even though many are skeptical about the high-fat content of the keto diet, the fact is that this weight loss method achieves high success rates. At least as far as short-term consideration is concerned. 

However, anyone who wants to lose weight permanently should look for another solution because the yo-yo effect ( people quickly gaining weight after a diet) does not stop at the keto diet. 

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The extreme restriction of food and the associated change in metabolism quickly after returning to the traditional diet because the lost pounds again land on the hips.

Advantages and disadvantages of the ketogenic diet

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Advantages and disadvantages of the ketogenic diet. / Image by Luisella Planeta Leoni from Pixabay

Possible advantages of the ketogenic diet:

  • Weight loss
  • Better blood sugar and cholesterol levels
  • After the transition period, some report a decreased feeling of hunger
  • Increased performance

We should note that a more or less prolonged transition phase precedes, which may be associated with some difficulties.

Disadvantages of the ketogenic diet:

  • The body excretes more so-called ketone bodies, as organic compounds, through the mouth during ketosis. These lead to bad breath.
  • During the conversion phase, many are plagued by fatigue, nausea, and digestive problems.
  • Extreme restrictions in the diet, which are challenging to implement, especially when traveling
  • High risk of the yo-yo effect (weight cycling)
  • Possible undersupply of vitamins and minerals

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The keto diet contradicts many nutritional guidelines that have proven to be healthy over the years. Nutrition experts recommend that only 30-35% of daily energy should come from fat. According to keto guidelines, it should be about twice that. Overall, this form of nutrition is very unbalanced and not suitable for the long term. If you want to lose weight for a long time without weight cycling, you have to permanently change your eating habits and integrate sports and exercise into your daily routine.