Today in our world there are two major global problems – diabetes and obesity – which affect a huge number of people, especially in developed countries and in America in particular.
The main reason for both is food.
The standard diet of the average person today includes a large number of proteins and carbohydrates, which is equally bad for health, as it leads to the development of immunity to two important hormones: insulin and leptin. The result is overweight, the development of inflammatory processes in the body, a decrease in the protective functions of cells.
What to Do?
Exit: adjust the power. The ketogenic diet is one of the effective ways to normalize weight and improve health. It allows you to enter the body in a state of ketosis when as a primary source of energy begin to use fats, rather than glucose.
In this article, we will talk about the benefits/uselessness of the ketogenic diet for weight loss and body drying, the types of ketogenic diets, the categories of people to whom it is contraindicated. We will list the products that can be consumed on a ketogenic diet and which must be excluded, and also touch on some possible side effects and how dangerous they are to health.
Advantages of a Ketogenic Diet
The ketogenic diet suggests an almost complete elimination of carbohydrates from the diet, moderate protein intake and a large number of useful fats – these are the three key factors for achieving ketosis status.
Ketogenic Diet is Useful for Losing Weight
The ketogenic diet is one of the most effective diets for weight loss, which rebuilds internal processes to burn fat for energy efficiently. Especially it is useful for those who are overweight.
In one experiment, scientists compared the effect of a low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet and a low-fat diet to weight loss in overweight people. After 24 weeks, the group on the ketogenic diet lost two times as much!
Suppression of Inflammatory Processes in the Body
Our body receives energy from two basic components of food: carbohydrates and fats. In a critical condition (with malnutrition, on drying the body in bodybuilding, for example), proteins can also be used, but now this is not the case.
What is the difference between these two sources of energy? One of the main and fundamental differences between fats and carbohydrates – in the process of using them for energy (combustion), less active oxygen-containing by-products, including free radicals, is released. This means that reducing the number of carbohydrates in the diet reduces the risk of developing chronic inflammatory processes in the body.
Reducing the Risk of Cancer
This is one of the fantastic properties of a ketogenic diet. Dr Dominic D’Agostino explains the actions of the ketogenic diet in cancer as follows:
“All cells in our body use glucose as a primary source of energy, but they can also get it from fats. However, cancer cells are not flexible and do not know how to use fats for energy. When the body enters the state of ketosis on a ketogenic diet, cancer cells die of hunger.”
Increased Muscle Mass
Scientists say that ketones, which are formed in the body when switching to a low-carbon ketogenic diet, have a similar structure with BCAA amino acids, which means that such a diet can be useful for a set of muscle mass.
Ketones retain more amino acids BCAA for building and maintaining muscle mass, performing their functions where possible in the body.
Hunger is the cause of what we eat. The more we eat, the more calories we absorb, the more we gain weight. Ketogenic diet reduces the feeling of hunger, which is primarily determined by carbohydrates.
Surely you noticed that if you eat something sweet, then after a concise time again you want to eat. Why?
The mechanism is the following. Fast carbohydrates, first, very quickly digested (hence the name), freeing the stomach. An empty stomach starts to press the button “I’m hungry!”.
Secondly, when a portion of fast carbohydrates (cakes, sweets, cookies) in the form of glucose enters the bloodstream, this causes an insulin outflow, the task of which is to control the glucose level. The action of insulin leads to a sharp decrease in the concentration of glucose in the blood, which also “includes” a feeling of hunger.
What happens on a ketogenic diet: because the amount of carbohydrates is reduced to a very small value, both of the mechanisms described above for the onset of hunger stop working.
Decreased Insulin Level
As mentioned above, getting a portion of carbohydrates into the blood causes an ejection of insulin. If we regularly feed the body with fast carbohydrates, then insulin resistance may develop – type 2 diabetes.
Switching to a ketogenic diet or implementing its central principle – reducing the number of carbohydrates in the diet – helps to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes significantly.
According to scientific studies, people with diabetes who switch to a ketogenic diet become much less dependent on medications and in fact can restore sensitivity to insulin.
The ketogenic diet is adequate for weight loss, in the fight against cancer and diabetes, reduces chronic inflammatory processes in the body, normalizes the level of insulin and is even used for a set of muscle mass.
Types of Ketogenic Diet
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Standard Ketogenic Diet (for All)
It is recommended for most people (both healthy and those who suffer from obesity or diabetes) due to its effectiveness. Its main principle – 70% of calories per day should come with healthy fats, 25% with protein and only 5% with carbohydrates.
It’s important to understand that on a ketogenic diet, fats are a component of food, with which the need for energy is closed. Therefore, individual energy needs (depending on the level of physical activity) should be closed with their help.
To get the effect of a ketogenic diet, it is essential that most calories come from fat, and the amount of protein and carbohydrates is limited.
The main principle of a ketogenic diet is that most of the calories must come from fats (~ 70%) and limited – with protein (~ 25%) and carbohydrates (~ 5%).
Tagged Ketogenic Diet (for Fitness)
This kind of ketogenic diet is for those who are fond of fitness.
With this approach, the entire daily calorie rate of carbohydrates is eaten in one meal 30-60 minutes before training.
The idea is to effectively use the energy that carbohydrates carry, during training, without interfering with the action of ketones.
Cyclic Ketogenic Diet (for Professional Athletes)
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A cyclic ketogenic diet is designed for professional athletes and bodybuilders. Here a standard ketogenic diet and a diet with a high carbohydrate content, known in bodybuilding as “carbohydrate loading”, are cyclically alternated.
Carbohydrate loading in bodybuilding is used to restore glycogen in muscles after weight training. Glycogen is the source of energy for the muscles; also, it makes them more filling, since it binds the water, increasing the volume of muscle cells.
Cyclicality is carried out according to the following principle: 5 days of a standard ketogenic diet, then two days of loading with carbohydrates. During the ketogenic phase, the amount of carbohydrates in the diet is about 50 grams, in the phase of loading 450-600 grams.
This kind of ketogenic diet is not recommended for those who have a low level of physical activity.
A cyclic ketogenic diet for professional athletes and bodybuilders involves alternating a standard ketogenic diet (5 days a week, ~ 50 grams of carbohydrates) and loading carbohydrates (2 days a week, ~ 500 g carbohydrates).
Highly Protein Ketogenic Diet (for Weight Loss)
This is a variation of the standard ketogenic diet: 10% increases the amount of protein, and 10% reduces the share of useful fats.
What it does: the protein is useful for losing weight because it gives a greater sense of satiety, reduces the feeling of hunger and has a thermogenic effect (more energy is required for its digestion).
Scientific studies confirm the effectiveness of a high-protein ketogenic diet for weight loss.
Limited Ketogenic Diet (for Fighting Cancer)
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In the beginning, we noted that a ketogenic diet is an effective weapon against cancer. This concerns a limited ketogenic diet primarily.
When the number of carbohydrates in the diet and the total number of calories is limited, the glycogen stores are gradually depleted (they store excess carbohydrates for the time-delayed use for energy), and ketones become the primary source of energy for healthy cells. Cancer cells do not know how to use ketones for energy, so they die.
One of the demonstrative scientific experiments confirming this fact. In 2010, a 65-year-old woman, suffering from an aggressive form of brain cancer, switched to a limited ketogenic diet. In the beginning, she starved, drinking only water, then consumed just 600 calories a day. After two months, her weight decreased significantly, and the level of ketones in the body increased. Moreover, the diagnosis of the brain with magnetic resonance and tomography did not show the presence of a tumor in the brain.
A limited ketogenic diet is effective in cancer to combat it. This is explained by the inability of cancer cells to use fats for energy.
Ketogenic Diet on the “Drying” of the Body in Bodybuilding
As for the benefits of a ketogenic diet for drying the body, there are too many “buts”.
The biggest of them lies in the contradiction of the fundamental principle of this diet – almost complete elimination of carbohydrates – for a drying diet, which can only be achieved with the help of carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates on drying:
- Keep muscle mass from catabolism, supplying muscles with energy;
- keep muscle mass from catabolism, preventing the use of amino acids (the building material of muscle tissue) for energy;
- stimulate the secretion of one of the most anabolic hormones – insulin;
- carbohydrates in the form of glycogen make the muscle cells filled, increasing their volume, which is an important factor in muscle synthesis, and also increases the size of the muscles as a whole;
- ensure the maintenance of the training regime, which is important for maintaining muscle mass.
Details of the importance of carbohydrates and the dangers of a ketogenic diet on drying the body are discussed in the material Diet and nutrition program on drying the body from the natural bodybuilder Layne Norton.
Prohibited Foods on a Ketogenic Diet
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Before we look at the products that can be consumed on a ketogenic diet, let’s look carefully at what is now on our table and what must necessarily be excluded.
In the forbidden list of products on the ketogenic diet, first of all, unhealthy non-natural foods, in the allowed – whole natural ones.
List of prohibited foods on the ketogenic diet:
- packaged, processed, refined products (most of what a person produces);
- milk which contains carbohydrates in the form of lactose; one glass of milk is approximately the daily carbohydrate norm;
- hydrogenated vegetable oils;
- soy products;
Some of the products listed do not contain carbohydrates, but they simply are not healthy and useful.
In the list of banned products on the ketogenic diet are mostly unhealthy, non-natural products produced by man; in the list of allowed – whole natural rich in beneficial fats.
Ideal Meals on a Ketogenic Diet
In the list of permitted products on the ketogenic diet, whole natural products that provide the fundamental principle: virtually complete elimination of carbohydrates, protein restriction (~ 1 g per kg of body weight) and a relatively large amount of healthy fats.
List of products allowed on a ketogenic diet that is rich in useful fats:
- coconut oil;
- animal fats containing omega-3 (salmon, sardines, anchovies and krill);
- olives and olive oil (make sure that olive oil is not diluted with cheap vegetable oils);
- raw nuts (almonds, cashews, forest, brazilian);
- seeds (sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, caraway seeds, hemp, flax);
- raw cocoa butter;
- organic pasteurized eggs.
When building a menu on a ketogenic diet, it is important to include a large number of green leafy vegetables, as they are rich in fiber, antioxidants and vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients (broccoli, spinach, parsley, brussels sprouts).
As for fruits, although in general, it is natural and healthy products, on the ketogenic diet, most of them must be eliminated, since they contain a large number of carbohydrates.
You can include in the menu a moderate amount of some berries (blackberries, blueberries, cranberries), since they are rich in antioxidants, useful for health.
Be sure to drink more water. Also allowed are:
- black coffee (without sweeteners and milk/cream), as it is rich in antioxidants;
- coconut milk;
- herbal tea (contain antioxidants).
To whom Ketogenic Diet is Contraindicated?
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It is safe to say that a ketogenic diet is useful for the vast majority of us. But not for everyone.
- Pregnant women – during pregnancy, the need for nutrients increases significantly. Any diet (nutrient restriction), including ketogenic, at this stage of life can have negative consequences for both mother and child.
- Lactation – during breastfeeding, carbohydrates are needed for the mother to create milk.
- Professional athletes – above, we mentioned that a cyclic ketogenic diet was developed specifically for professional athletes. However, it is necessary to keep in mind the following. Ketones formed in the body on a ketogenic diet can be an effective source of energy even for professional athletes, but it takes time (about 4-6 weeks) to achieve ketosis. Up to this point, energy exhaustion cannot be avoided, since the body has not yet adapted to a new type of nutrition. This can affect athletic performance and efficiency. Plan to switch to a ketogenic diet beforehand so as not to lose shape when you need to show the result.
- Those who have a problems with the gallbladder – the gallbladder contains a bile concentrate (acid) secreted by the liver, which is necessary for digesting fats. Without it, the fats that form the basis of the ketogenic diet will not be absorbed efficiently, which will result in a deficit of calories and nutrients.
- Kidney stones (now or in the past) – if you have previously formed kidney stones, then it is likely that a ketogenic diet can provoke their formation again. The reason is that ketones stimulate the release of uric acid, which is known to be a factor in the formation of kidney stones. On the other hand, the risk of kidney stones on a ketogenic diet can be reduced if you consume enough green leafy vegetables that contain potassium, and rich in useful fats such as avocados, for example. It is also essential to drink enough water.
- Adolescence, when the body is still growing – scientific evidence confirms that a ketogenic diet can be useful for the treatment of certain medical conditions in children (e.g., epilepsy). However, prolonged restriction of nutrients can hurt body height. The reason is that the ketogenic diet reduces the secretion of insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), a hormone that plays an important role in the formation of bones and muscles in children and adolescents.
- Slim build – for those who have a lean physique by nature (body mass index is less than 20), it is also better to avoid a ketogenic diet, since it can provoke an even more significant weight loss, which will not cause harm, but harm.
- Anorexia – anorexic drugs on a ketogenic diet can die very quickly, because they limit the calorie content of food in fear of gaining weight, and the enemy number one for them are fats – the basis of a ketogenic diet. Is a ketogenic diet useful for the treatment of anorexia? Maybe. But it must pass necessarily under the supervision of a doctor and a psychiatrist.
The ketogenic diet is contraindicated: pregnant and breastfeeding women, a professional athlete during the competition, those with a gallbladder or kidney stones, adolescents in a period of rapid growth, lean people and anorexic.
Possible Side Effects of a Ketogenic Diet
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The ketogenic diet has countless benefits for the health of most people. But, like any intervention in the habitual diet, it can have some unpleasant side effects.
- Unpleasant odor from the mouth – the reason for this effect – acetone. Is one of the kinds of ketones produced during ketosis in the body. It is secreted into the urine and partly through the lungs with exhaled air. The smell is unpleasant, but on the other hand is a sign that the ketogenic diet works. You can get rid of it by brushing your teeth or using hygienic rinse mouthwashes.
- Feeling tired – at the beginning of a ketogenic diet, you can feel a sense of fatigue. This is the most common reason why many people stop following it without reaching the moment when the benefits of ketosis begin to appear. The reason for fatigue is a transitional period of adaptation of the body to the use of fats as a primary source of energy instead of carbohydrates. The adaptation process does not take place in one day and can take up to 30 days 24.
- Frequent urination – the exclusion of carbohydrates from the diet on a ketogenic diet leads to the depletion of glycogen storage in the muscles and liver, which is accompanied by the excretion of water, which glycogen binds. During the first few days after the onset of a ketogenic diet, this can lead to private visits to the toilet. With the drop in insulin levels in the blood, excess sodium can also be excreted in the urine 25.
- Problems with digestion – any cardinal changes in diet can lead to digestive problems. The ketogenic diet is no exception. Constipation is one of the most common complaints among those who switch to a ketogenic diet. As a rule, it goes through a few weeks after the beginning of the diet, when the body gets used to healthy food.
- Strong desire for sweet – a strong desire to eat something sweet is a natural consequence of the betrayal of your favorite habit, as well as switching to the use of fats for energy. Do not give in to the false feeling of hunger for sweets: it will be solid only at the very beginning of the transition to a ketogenic diet.
- Hair loss – do not panic if you find more hair falling out in the combat the beginning of the ketogenic diet. This is most likely the result of cardinal changes in nutrition, which is stress for the body. As it adapts to a diet, this side effect should disappear. In general, learn to listen to your body. Any oddities that happen to you – these are the signs sent to you so that you pay attention to them. Some of them say that something is wrong, others – the consequences of breaking the established wrong habits.
Possible side effects in the transition to a ketogenic diet – a consequence of cardinal changes in diet, all of them must pass with time. Among them: bad breath, frequent urination, fatigue, constipation, a strong desire for sweet, hair loss.