In recent decades there has been much talk about low-carbohydrate diets, but the diet that has maintained its reputation from generation to generation and which is receiving special attention today is undoubtedly the Ketogenic Diet. This nutritional plan is far from being a lightning diet and has been practiced since the 1920s, when doctors began using it with sick, obese and epileptic patients.
WHAT IS THE CETOGENIC DIET?
It is a diet very low in carbohydrates and high in fat that has been shown to be beneficial to lose weight in a stable manner, increase energy and promote cognitive health and hormonal balance. It also helps reduce risk factors for chronic diseases such as hyperglycemia, hypertension and hypertriglyceridemia (excess triglycerides in the blood).
With the ketogenic diet, the body enters a metabolic state of ketosis:
- The immediate source of energy (the glucose of carbohydrates) is drastically reduced.
- The body needs to find alternative sources of energy.
- It starts to burn more fat and produce higher amounts of ketones (small molecules that contribute to energy metabolism).
To get the body into the metabolic state of ketosis and keep it that way while producing ketones for a constant energy supply, it is necessary that at least 70-75% of the daily calories come from high-fat foods (5% carbs and 25% proteins). By not having carbohydrates or glucose, the body depends on the fat it gets from your diet, as well as body fat, which translates into rapid and stable weight loss.
What do you eat in Ketogenic Diet
Most ketogenic diets include a high amount of high-fat foods such as red meat, chicken, fatty fish, poultry, eggs, butter, cream, cheese, coconut oil, yogurts, nuts, seeds, oils, avocados, and very small amounts of low-carbohydrate vegetables like dark leafy greens, onions, peppers, etc.
What you won’t see in a ketogenic diet is pasta, bread, porridge, oatmeal, pancakes, fruits, lots of vegetables (!), legumes, root vegetables — basically so many of the foods we know are good for longevity, digestive health, and keep our microbiome healthy.
Who should follow a Ketogenic Diet?
The ketogenic diet was originally created and studied to treat patients with epilepsy. Researchers observed fasting’s antiseizure properties. For most people interested in trying a ketogenic diet could be used in the short-term, and for primary goals of weight loss, mental clarity, and a possible boost in energy. There isn’t enough research yet to determine if the ketogenic diet should be used for the long-term, and what effects it can have on the body over extended time.
It is not recommended (especially without the follow-up of a professional) for people with a history of diabetes, liver and kidney diseases, eating disorders and genetic defects that interfere with the absorption of fat. Likewise, pregnant women or those who are breastfeeding should also avoid following this diet.
You already know I’m not big fan of diets, specially when there aren’t many researches about how it affect us in the long term. There are some studies saying how good it can be in short periods of time, but by now you know my phylosophy, which emphasizes the power of whole ingredients like vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, and seeds for their benefits to the body. I love my healthy fats and definitely have them at each meal in order to help my body absorb fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K — but I also enjoy my greens, enjoying big salads, smoothies, and fruit.
There currently isn’t enough research on the side effects of a long-term ketogenic diet to make a science-based decision to practice the diet for an extended period of time.
If you want to try the ketogenic diet, it’s important to get adviced from a Registered Dietitian to ensure that your body and current health level will benefit from such a drastic change to a standard diet. This can give you the peace of mind that you’re making an informed, smart decision about your health or weight loss goals too.
Have you been curious about the ketogenic diet, have you tried it? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Connect with HF on Instagram, too, by tagging @healthyforkful and #healthyforkful.