The ketogenic diet - what is it and how does it work?

The ketogenic diet - what is it and how does it work?

The ketosis diet, also known as ketogenic, is a diet in which the amount of carbohydrates consumed daily is significantly reduced and the fat content increased. Its main purpose is to put the body into a state of ketosis, in which the basic fuel is no longer glucose, but fat and so-called ketone bodies. The ketogenic diet is becoming increasingly popular, and numerous studies show that it is also an extremely effective tool in the treatment of obesity and numerous metabolic diseases.

How does the ketogenic diet work and what is ketosis?

The ketogenic diet aims to achieve ketosis - a natural metabolic state in which fats replace glucose as the main source of energy. In ketosis, the body does not burn glucose, but only ketone bodies formed as a result of oxidation of fatty acids in the liver and body fat.

Ketosis can be the result of starvation or intensive workout, but also a diet low in carbohydrates. Due to low glucose as well as insulin levels, the body intensively produces ketone bodies. A high fat supply additionally supports this process.

In ketosis, burning fat tissue is much easier than on a traditional diet. Moreover, this state brings a number of health benefits, mainly related to the reduction of inflammation or regulation of the nervous and endocrine systems. For this reason, a ketogenic diet is recommended for people suffering from diabetes, heart disease, epilepsy or mood disorders.

But what is the keto diet in practice? What are its principles and what does a sample keto diet look like?

The ketogenic diet - what is it?

The keto diet belongs to the high-fat diets - the vast majority of energy comes from fats. In addition, small amounts of protein and very few carbohydrates are consumed. Typically, about 75% of calorie intake comes from fat, 20-25% from protein and only 5-10% from carbohydrates. In practice, the daily intake of the latter should not exceed 20 g per day (excluding fibre).

This is the ketone diet optimal for most people. However, when finding out what a ketone diet is, do not forget that there are several variations of it, different in the exact proportions of macronutrients (e.g. high-protein ketogenic. It is usually used by athletes - ketosis is achieved thanks to very low content of carbohydrates, and at the same time a higher supply of protein enables the effective building of muscle tissue).

In any case, the main goal of the diet is ketosis - meals must be rich in healthy fats, which make it easier to achieve and maintain this state.

Keto diet - rules

The rules of the ketogenic diet are not complicated - just follow a few basic rules to lose weight and enjoy the positive effects of ketosis on your health.

However, we recommend reading carefully what and how to eat in order to make the keto diet effective, as well as to minimise the risk of the so-called keto flu - unpleasant symptoms associated with the adaptation of the body to a new way of eating.

Reguły prowadzenia diety ketogenicznej

The ketogenic diet - rules for carbohydrate intake

Twenty grams of carbohydrates per day is just a small amount. This limit means that you must completely omit all cereal products such as bread, pasta, rice and groats. You should also give up fruit juices and most fruit (berries such as strawberries, blueberries and raspberries are allowed). It is also necessary to eliminate foods such as beans and peas - they contain large amounts of starch, which are carbohydrates.

Eliminating foods like sugar and honey from your diet is also obvious. However, the good news for people who cannot imagine life without desserts or sweet snacks is that there are numerous recipes for keto sweets, sweetened with erythrol or stevia - sweeteners of natural origin.

In addition, as you follow the ketogenic diet, your meals become sweet-free - your appetite for sweet tastes simply decreases significantly. Many people who have been in ketosis for a long time prefer snacks such as vegetables and nuts.

Good fats - the basis of the ketogenic diet

Although fats are the basis of the keto diet, it does not mean that any type of them can be consumed.

Good fats include:

  • saturated fats (lard, coconut oil, butter, clarified butter),
  • monounsaturated fats (avocado, olive oil),
  • polyunsaturated fats (nuts, fatty fish).

The consumption of trans fats, contained in highly processed foods or fast food, is absolutely forbidden. However, it is important to ensure an adequate supply of omega acids, which are crucial for the proper functioning of the cardiovascular system.

Protein in a ketogenic diet

Many low-carbohydrate diets are also high-protein ones. In the case of a ketogenic diet, too much protein should not be consumed - the body can produce glucose from it in the process of gluconeogenesis, which may lead to coming out of ketosis.

Protein should also not be too little - protein deficiency can disrupt some metabolic processes and negatively affect the condition of muscles.

It is said that, depending on the level of physical activity, the keto diet should contain between 1.5 and 2.5 g of protein per kilogram of target body weight.

Additional rules for the ketogenic diet

Apart from the correct macronutrient ratio, it is necessary to pay attention to adequate hydration and electrolyte intake.

Entering ketosis is associated with increased water loss, especially through urine, which can lead to dehydration of the body. Therefore, it is crucial to drink large amounts of water - even 3-4 litres a day.

Tips for people on a keto diet

In the beginning, many people may struggle to drink a few litres of water, but with time, increased thirst frequently appears. However, it's a good idea to help yourself and keep a bottle of water always at hand or install a special app on your phone reminding you to drink it.

Urination and sweating also contribute to the washing out of electrolytes from the body. Therefore, apart from drinking water, it is necessary to deliver to the organism elements such as sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. It is recommended to salt food generously and drink electrolyte drinks, as well as long-cooked broths on bones and vegetables. Taking dietary supplements is also a good idea.

Be careful with isotonic drinks designed for athletes - they often contain sugar or unhealthy sweeteners, which may not lead to recovery from ketosis, but have a negative effect on your health.

Keto diet - the menu. How to create a keto menu?

The key to a keto diet is healthy fats. Their sources should be as varied as possible to provide the body with all the necessary minerals.

Despite the elimination of carbohydrate sources present in traditional weight-loss diets, the recipes of the ketogenic diet may be created with a very wide range of products, including those that are not allowed in low-fat diets. These include, in particular:

  • eggs (preferably organic or free-range),
  • meat (beef, pork, game),
  • offal,
  • poultry (especially the fatty parts, e.g. legs),
  • fatty fish (mackerel, herring, salmon),
  • fatty cheeses and dairy products (butter, cream, mouldy cheeses, cheddar, mozzarella, cream cheese),
  • seeds, seeds and nuts (including peanuts, linseed, pumpkin seeds and almonds),
  • peanut butters (made from peanuts, almonds or cashews, without added salt, sugar or palm oil),
  • avocados,
  • healthy fats (olive oil, coconut oil, MCT oil, clarified butter),
  • vegetables (for the purposes of simplicity, we can assume that vegetables growing "above the ground" are allowed - all leafy greens and broccoli, tomatoes, peppers, aubergines or courgettes),
  • spices (avoid ready-made mixtures, which often contain sugar).

In fact, there is no single, universal menu for a diet such as the ketogenic one. A detailed menu is personalised, adapted to the preferences, needs and state of health of a given person.

Ketogenic diet - simple recipes

A balanced ketogenic diet does not require the preparation of complicated or time-consuming meals. However, many people wonder how to cook to make their food tasty, balanced and in line with the diet.

Ketogenic diet - recipes for everyone

A sample ketogenic diet menu might include the following meals:

Breakfast:

  • bacon and cheese omelette with tomatoes and green vegetables,
  • scrambled eggs with butter, served with cured ham and vegetables,
  • shake made of 30 or 36% cream or coconut milk with cottage cheese, linseed and strawberries,
  • shakshuka with olives and feta cheese, drizzled with olive oil,
  • "oatmeal" with coconut shavings on coconut milk or fatty cream with nuts and berries.

Lunch:

  • poultry liver with onions and butter, served with arugula drizzled with olive oil,
  • chicken breast wrapped in slices of bacon, baked in cream sauce,
  • trout baked with bacon,
  • courgette pasta with tomato sauce with minced pork shoulder pullets,
  • roast pork ribs with sauerkraut,
  • long braised beef with cauliflower puree and pickled cucumbers.

Lunch:

  • cauliflower soup with cream, served with bacon chips,
  • spinach salad with avocado, pumpkin seeds and cherry tomatoes, drizzled with olive oil,
  • grilled halloumi cheese with Black Forest ham, served on arugula, sprinkled with sunflower seeds,
  • butter fried prawns with garlic,
  • smoked mackerel and mayonnaise paste with chives, served on celery slices,
  • cauliflower risotto with chicken, sun-dried tomatoes and spinach.

As you can see, these are neither complicated nor extremely fat dishes. It is also a myth that large amounts of meat are the basis of a ketogenic diet. A 1500 kcal diet will not contain much meat, as it is rich in protein, which should be eaten in reasonable amounts on a keto diet.

The fundamental thing is to plan the keto diet so that the meals are not monotonous. This works well for both the mentality (prevents rapid boredom and abandonment of the diet) and the body (easier to provide the necessary nutrients). It is essential to consume large amounts of vegetables and fibre. Thanks to this, the ketogenic diet will provide the right amount of vitamins and minerals, and thus you will lose weight without the risk of deficiencies and side effects.

Basics and running a keto diet
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