The Keto Diet is low in carbohydrates and high in fat. Over 20 studies have shown that it can help lose weight and improve some aspects of health. However, the life practice of many people around the world shows that such an unbalanced diet, emphasizing animal fats, is in fact a gambling for health.
Data on keto nutrition
The diet contains less than 50 g of total carbohydrates or 30 g net per day, which are carbohydrates without fiber.
In the ketodiet, most of the daily calories come from fat and less from protein. Meat, fish, eggs and dairy products are strongly present in the keto diet, so it is very important to include fiber in it. For information, fiber is present in plants. They protect the gut from harmful bacteria, improve digestive function and help prevent constipation.
According to a 2012 study, ketodiet can reduce your body weight and insulin levels quickly. The same study showed that low carbs can lower some of the major risk factors for heart disease, including high blood pressure, lipoprotein cholesterol and triglycerides. But the body does not have such selectivity and therefore the results should be considered individual.
A short list of what you should and should not eat when you are on a ketodiet
It is not recommended to consume:
- Grains – wheat, corn, rice, cereals, etc.
- Sugar products – honey, agave, maple syrup, etc.
- Fruits – apples, bananas, oranges
- Root vegetables – potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc.
- Meat – fish, beef, lamb, poultry, etc.
- Dairy products with high fat content – cheese, cream with high fat content, unpasteurized milk, yogurt, butter, etc.
- Oil and products with high fat content – coconut oil, olive oil, avocado, etc.
- Nuts and seeds – macadamia nuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, almonds, sunflower seeds and more.
- Low-carbohydrate vegetables – spinach, cabbage, broccoli, etc.
- Berries – raspberries, blackberries and other fruits with low glycemic levels
- Sweeteners – stevia and other sweeteners with low carbohydrate content.
Vegetarians and vegans on a ketodiet
It will be a challenge for vegetarians and vegans to follow a ketodiet, because even sources of heterogeneous protein, such as lentils and beans, are relatively rich in carbohydrates, which is contrary to the rules of the ketogenic diet.
In the standard ketodiet, animal products make up a large part of the diet, as they are high in fat, protein and low in carbohydrates.
But although complicated, it is possible to follow a vegetarian or vegan keto diet. Those who do not eat meat and fish can replace the products in question with a high content of fatty plant foods.
A high-fat ketogenic diet is ultra-low in carbohydrates, which causes ketosis – a metabolic condition in which your body begins to burn fat for fuel instead of glucose.
With a traditional ketogenic diet, about 70% of your total daily calories should come from fat. On the other hand, a vegetarian ketodiet eliminates meat and fish, relying instead on other healthy fats, such as coconut oil, eggs, avocados, nuts and seeds.
Following a vegan ketogenic diet is complicated, but not impossible.
People with a vegan diet, consuming only plant foods such as vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts and seeds, and at the same time avoiding foods of animal origin, such as meat, eggs and dairy products, can also follow a ketodiet, such as rely on high-fat plant products. Examples are coconut oil, avocados, seeds and nuts, but it should be noted that people with a vegan diet are unlikely to have a real need to lose weight.
To make sure you keep your carbs as low as possible, use the following methods:
- Read the labels of the foods you buy in detail. Everything in the package is likely to contain hidden carbohydrates. Make sure the products are free of maltodextrin, dextrose, sugar, cane syrup / molasses, starch, etc., as they can raise your blood sugar levels and reduce ketone production.
- Use sweeteners and flours suitable for the ketodiet. You may find it difficult to completely eliminate sugar and flour from your diet, but there are products that are sold specifically for the diet.
- Eat ketogenic versions of your favorite foods if they are high in fat. Just because you’re on a diet doesn’t mean you have to stop eating pizza, pasta, desserts or pastries. Just prepare them yourself with the right ingredients for the diet
Advantages of the ketogenic diet
• Reduces inflammation in the body
One of the main advantages of this diet is the drastic reduction of inflammation in the body, which is mainly due to the reduced production of free radicals when burning ketones for energy instead of glucose. Reduced inflammation allows for better energy production and overall, more efficient functioning of the body, increasing its ability to heal itself.
Another reason for the anti-inflammatory function of the ketogenic diet is that it allows the blood sugar and insulin to be stabilized. The blood sugar imbalance is one of the causes of inflammation in the body. Due to this feature, the ketodiet is suitable for ameliorating neurological and metabolic disorders.
• Improved ability to burn body fat
We will mention once again that being in a state of ketosis means that you burn fat for energy instead of glucose. Being overweight is considered a risk factor in many diseases. In addition, excess body fat (especially in the intestines) is associated with hormonal imbalances and the accumulation of toxins in your body.
• Weight loss
This is the main reason why people follow the ketodiet. Because fat becomes a source of energy, your body actively burns it when it needs it.
When your body enters a state of ketosis, your blood sugar and insulin levels fall, which gives fat cells the ability to excrete water, so a large weight loss can occur at the beginning of the diet.
• Mental clarity and mental acuity
Neurological inflammation is strongly associated with depression, anxiety and poor cognitive function. Ketogenic diet is useful in neurological disorders, but also in general to improve mental performance.
• Radiant skin
Skin problems such as eczema, acne and psoriasis are often associated with chronic inflammation and autoimmunity problems. For example, acne is associated with inflammation of the sebaceous glands of the skin, and eczema is an inflammation of the skin cells.
Our exposure to chemicals causes allergies to the environment, chronic stress, hormonal imbalances and bacterial imbalances in our gut. They can contribute to these unpleasant skin conditions. Following a ketodiet may help you reduce inflammation in your body.
Some health experts warn not to follow this diet at all, because of its unpleasant side effects and health risks. Even many proponents of the ketodiet admit that if not followed properly, it can cause the opposite of the expected healthy result. The risks of it are high, so it is worth experimenting with it and your health, nutritionists warn.
Here are some things you need to know about the ketogenic diet before trying it.
• It can stress your kidneys
High-fat animal foods, such as eggs, meat and cheese, are the main elements of a ketogenic diet because they do not contain carbohydrates. But if you eat too much of them, you can cause a high risk of developing kidney stones. This is because high animal food intake can lead to strong acidity in the blood and urine.
Some studies also suggest that the ketodiet reduces the amount of citrate that is excreted in the urine. Whereas citrate binds to calcium to prevent the formation of kidney stones. Therefore, reducing its levels will inevitably increase the risk of their development.
In addition, people with chronic kidney disease should avoid the keto diet because weak kidneys will not be able to remove the accumulated acid in the blood as a result of overeating animal foods. This can lead to an acidosis condition, which in turn can lead to the progression of kidney disease and impair the function of many other organs.
• May cause digestive problems and changes in beneficial intestinal bacteria
Because a ketogenic diet restricts carbohydrates, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to meet your daily needs for your much-needed fiber.
Some of the richest sources of fiber, such as high-carbohydrate fruits, starchy vegetables, whole grains and beans, are eliminated because they are incompatible with the ketogenic diet. However, they are actually needed for the normal functioning of our organs. As a result, the ketodiet can lead to digestive discomfort and constipation, and it is good to know that all diseases start in the stomach with the “innocent” intake of foods unsuitable for our health.
What’s more, fiber nourishes the beneficial bacteria in your gut. Having a healthy gut boosts immunity, improves mental health and reduces inflammation in the body, but it also helps to lose unnecessary weight. A diet low in carbohydrates, free of fiber, as required by the ketodiet, will negatively affect the balance of your intestinal bacteria.
But, if you have decided to follow it, here are some healthy foods that contain fiber. Foods suitable for it are flaxseed, chia, coconut, broccoli, cauliflower and leafy vegetables.
• May lead to nutrient deficiencies
Because the ketodiet limits the intake of healthy foods, especially fruits with much-needed nutrients, whole grains and legumes, it will deprive your body of the recommended daily allowances of vitamins and minerals. In particular, some studies suggest that the ketodiet causes a deficiency of calcium, vitamin D, magnesium and phosphorus.
To the extent that the ketogenic diet is associated with weight loss, it is believed to have benefits for our health in the short term. Over time, however, it can lead to nutrient deficiencies, digestive problems, poor bone health and other health problems.
Therefore, people with kidney and heart disease, diabetes, bone or other conditions should consult their doctor before trying the diet. But keep in mind that it is especially unsuitable for the growing body of teenagers.
Consult a nutritionist to plan a balanced diet and monitor nutrient levels while on this diet to minimize the risk of complications and deficiencies in nutrients that are particularly important to the body.
Keep in mind that the nutritional adequacy of this diet depends on specific foods. If you include enough foods rich in healthy elements with low carbohydrate content, such as avocados, nuts and vegetables (without starch), you will provide more nutrients and reduce the risk of some complications related to the diet. And if you don’t follow it at all – even better.