The ketogenic diet is a diet that takes its name from the fact that the body switches to using ketones as a primary source of energy. These ketones are made in the liver from broken-down fat particles. It will therefore not surprise you that a ketogenic diet mainly consists of the consumption of fat.
Your body will use fat as an energy source, because consumption of carbohydrates is kept to a minimum. In a typical regular Western (American) diet, about half of the calories consumed (50%) are carbohydrates, 35% are fat, and 15% are protein.
These macronutrients come mainly from consuming large amounts of red and processed meats, butter, fried foods, full-fat dairy products, eggs, refined grains, potatoes, and soft drinks. The composition of this Western diet and the consumption amounts cause obesity and other diseases of affluence.
The combination of fat and carbohydrates from the Western diet is fattening. This is because your body produces your glucose and insulin as soon as you eat carbohydrates:
In the ketogenic diet you remove almost all carbohydrates from your diet, so you start eating low-carbohydrates and high-fat. Your body will then adapt to this to be able to use the fat you eat as fuel. Your metabolic state makes the transition from glycolysis (carbohydrate as fuel) to ketose (fat as fuel).
Ketosis is a natural reaction of your body to survive when you eat little. During this process, your body produces so-called ketones. These are substances that arise when the liver breaks down fats. The purpose of a ketogenic diet is to force your body to switch to this metabolic state.
Unlike other diets, this is not done by limiting caloric intake, but by reducing the amount of carbohydrates. This causes your body to use ketones as the main fuel source. This has many health benefits. Your body becomes incredibly efficient at burning fat as an energy source.
A ketogenic diet has many health benefits. More than 20 scientific studies have shown that this type of diet can help you lose weight or improve your overall health. In addition to being an effective way to lose weight and fat, it also has a positive effect on your energy level and mental focus. Here are some different benefits of the ketogenic diet.
Not only does the ketogenic diet help you to lose weight because your body uses fats as its main fuel. It also lowers the insulin level in your blood. Insulin is the hormone that provides fat storage. The ketogenic diet turns your body into a fat-burning machine. In this way, it helps you lose weight better than low-fat and carbohydrate-rich diets.
The ketogenic diet naturally lowers your blood sugar levels by the type of food you eat. Research shows the diet is even more effective than a low-calorie diet for preventing and treating diabetes.
Ketones are an extremely powerful source of energy for the brain. They’ve even been tested in medical conditions to treat certain brain diseases and conditions like concussions and memory loss.
Because fat is the most effective molecule to use as fuel, your body is supplied with a better and constant source of energy. In addition, fat gives you a longer feeling saturated, so you are more energetic and less hungry during the day.
In addition, ketosis suppresses the feeling of hunger by regulating the production of the ‘hunger hormone ghrelin. So you are less likely to get hungry if you are in ketosis.
Studies have shown that the ketogenic diet can improve levels of cholesterol in the blood. These blood values are important indicators of the health of your blood vessels.
When you switch to a low-carb diet such as a ketogenic diet, it can reduce bumps and inflammation of the skin. This way, people get purer skin and minor skin damage disappears.
The ketogenic diet has been used as a treatment for epilepsy for nearly a century (20). The diet has also become known because of this, it was only later associated with weight loss.
The ketogenic diet is used in the medical world to treat certain cancers and to inhibit the growth of a tumor.
In addition, numerous other studies have shown that the ketogenic diet may be used to treat many critical diseases.
Following a ketogenic diet means you want to keep carbohydrate consumption to a minimum. The more you know how to limit this, the faster you will get into ketosis. This requires some adjustment at the beginning. You will need to have a good meal plan, in which you outline your macronutrients (fats, proteins, carbohydrates), to ensure that you do not indeed consume too many carbohydrates.
Fortunately, there is still enough that you can eat:
To get and stay in ketosis you will have to keep your macronutrients in the right balance. The balanced distribution of your macronutrients consists of about 70% fat, 25% proteins, and 5% carbohydrates.
In order to get into a ketogenic metabolic state – in other words, ketosis – there are some important principles that you must adhere to.
Many people mainly focus on net carbohydrates. However, if you want to maximize your results, try to limit the total carbohydrates. A good guideline is to stay below 20 grams of net carbohydrates and below 35 grams of carbohydrates in total.
Eating too much protein leads to gluconeogenesis, which converts proteins into glucose. This prevents your body from getting into ketosis. Fat is the primary source of energy when you are on a ketogenic diet. It is therefore important that you get enough of it. It may sound like a lot, but try to drink a small 4 liters of water a day. However, when you are in ketosis you also retain less moisture, so it is important that you hydrate your body well. Water helps regulate body functions and also helps against hunger. Weight loss is easier to achieve if you have fewer insulin peaks during the day. Unnecessary snacking can lead to slower weight loss. After all, you cause more insulin peaks, and you increase your calorie intake.
Fasting can be a great way to improve your ketone levels. This is because you deprive your body of food, including carbohydrates. This means that the body searches for other energy sources, ie ketones. It is well known that exercise is healthy. If you want to get the most out of your ketogenic diet, it is advisable to get at least 20-30 minutes of exercise a day. Even a short walk can help regulate your blood sugar levels and also promote weight loss.
Supplements are generally not necessary to get and stay in ketosis, but they can facilitate the process.
There are several ways you can determine if you are in ketosis. If you want a clear indication, you can measure the ketone values in your urine or blood. However, there are a number of snags. For example, the urine strips are not always accurate. The test strips to measure your blood values, on the other hand, are accurate, but not cheap either. There are also other signals from which you can assume whether you are in a ketogenic state.
Being in a ketogenic state acts as a natural diuretic, causing you to drain fluid from your body. Acetoacetic acid is a keto body that is formed by the liver during ketosis, and it also leaves your body through your urine. It is one of the substances that the urine strips react to when measuring your ketone levels.
Because you urinate more, you will also get a dry mouth faster and also be thirstier. Make sure you drink enough water and replenish electrolytes (such as potassium, magnesium, and salt).
Acetone is a keto body that is partly excreted through your breath. Your breath may smell like overripe fruit, or even nail polish remover. In general, this is only temporary, and it goes away over time. You may first go through a transition period, also known as the “Keto Flu”, after which you will experience much less hunger during the day and a “clear” and energetic mental state.
Because you suddenly deprive your body of carbohydrates and provide them with fats, the body will have to build up a different arsenal of enzymes. Because you will not immediately be in ketosis, your body first uses the residual glucose naturally. This means that the glycogen stock (direct source of energy for the muscles) in your body will be exhausted, which can lead to fatigue and listlessness.
In the first week of switching to a ketogenic diet, many people experience headaches, poor focus, dizziness, and irritability. Often this is due to the fact that you are deficient in electrolytes (such as salt, potassium, and magnesium), due to the diuretic effect of ketosis. Therefore, make sure you get enough water supplemented with salt.
By taking extra salt you replenish your body with electrolytes and your body retains moisture more easily.