The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carb eating plan that claims to turn your body into a fat-burning machine.
Eating more fat and fewer carbs put your body into ketosis, a metabolic state where your body burns fat instead of carbs for fuel.
So when you are in ketosis your liver is making ketones, which is a fuel that gets put into the bloodstream.
When your intake of carbs is high, your glucose levels go up but so does your insulin levels, because insulin is responsible for transporting the glucose throughout your bloodstream.
And when your insulin levels are high it makes it very hard for your liver to break down fat, so when into ketosis your insulin levels will go down, so your liver will be able to break down the fats more easily.
The ketogenic diet is good for your overall health
Over 20 studies have shown that a ketogenic diet can help you lose weight and help you build a healthy lifestyle.
It may even help fight diabetes, lower bad cholesterol, increase good cholesterol, improve memory, stabilize blood sugar, decrease the risk of cancer and PCOS, reduce inflammation, epilepsy and Alzheimer’s.
A way you might notice you are in ketosis is if you feel an increase in your energy levels if you don’t crave sweets as much.
How does the Ketogenic diet work?
One thing you must be aware of is that when you reduce the number of carbs you are eating you must increase the amount of fat.
Otherwise, your body is not going to have energy enough to go through the day.
You might also suffer from ‘keto headache’, which is your body going through carb withdraws so if you do not feed it with enough fats it has nothing to live of.
Also, your protein intake must be moderate because when you have so much protein and don’t have any carbs coming in your body starts breaking down protein as its energy source, which is called gluconeogenesis.
The Ketogenic diet explained for total beginners
So let’s say you follow a 1.500 calorie keto diet and you’re doing 70% fat, 25% protein, and 5% carbs.
This can be broken down to about 116 grams of fat, about 90 grams of protein and like 30-50 net grams of carbs.
You have to take into account that we are talking about net carbs, which comes from taking your total grams of carbs and subtract to your fiber, the result is your net carbs.
So If you eat 50 grams of carbs but also have 30 grams of fiber your net carbs equals 20, which would be less than the 25-30 that you should take.
What is in the Ketogenic diet foods list?
There is a variety of food you can eat when following a keto diet meal plan.
Natural polyunsaturated fat-rich foods like beef, pork, lamb, chicken, turkey, and fish.
Keep your omega-3 fatty acids in balance by eating plenty of wild salmon, tuna, trout, and shellfish.
Saturated fats like ghee, tallow, lard, olive oil, avocado oil or coconut oil, butter, yogurt, can be freely eaten.
Keep an eye on your intake of nut or seed-based food as they can be high in inflammatory omega-6.
For proteins when possible choose organic, pasture-raised and grass-fed meat, such as salmon, cod, halibut, mackerel, lobster, clams, oysters, mussels and free-range whole eggs, but be careful in no to eat too much protein.
For vegetables broccoli, avocados, cauliflower, cabbage, peppers, onions, okra, spinach, kale, frozen blackberries (this is the only fruit on the list.)
What are the foods to avoid?
The foods to avoid in your menu are called processed polyunsaturated trans fats or high glycemic fruits and vegetables, which convert to glucose quickly in the bloodstream.
So avoid carrots, turnips, beets, processed meat, fish with added sugar, legumes, fruits, corn, rice, beans, bread, cereal, potatoes or pasta.
The keto diet pyramid is composed of 70% fats, 25% proteins, and 5% carbs.
CLICK HERE for a list of ketogenic diet foods.
What are some Ketogenic diet recipes?
There are many recipes you can implement into your keto diet program such as.
- Giant rib-eyes with veggies and blue cheese butter
- salted almond butter brownies
- baked cod with feta and tomatoes
- grilled lemon-rosemary chicken & leeks
- grilled salmon with tomato avocado salsa
- pan-seared pork chops with roasted fennel and tomatoes
- romaine salad with avocado-lime vinaigrette or smoked beef tenderloin
These are just an example but there are many more.
What are the options for a Ketogenic snack?
We’ve all had uncontrollable cravings between meals.
Although a ketogenic diet, which focuses on filling, quality fats, and proteins, is one of the most satiating ways to eat, it’s sometimes necessary to have a snack to tide you over until the next meal.
And is so easy to just grab some quick snack to ease the hunger. The most probable outcome is that the snack won’t be very healthy.
So let’s go over some of the best healthy snacks you can use when on a keto diet.
Olives are full of heart-healthy fats with very little carbs or protein.
They contain fat but it’s the healthy mono-saturated kind, which has been found to shrink the risk of atherosclerosis and increase good cholesterol.
The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of olives make them a natural for protection against cancer because chronic oxidative stress and chronic inflammation can be key factors in the development of cancer.
2. Macadamia nuts
Macadamia nuts are high in testosterone boosting monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) along with some key micronutrients and low in omega-6 content.
They contain great levels of manganese, iron, vitamin A, B-vitamin, and folate.
Due to their rich source of monounsaturated fatty acids, they can help to reduce cholesterol levels and lower triglycerides in the body.
Macadamia nuts can also provide support for the gut and improve digestion as well as promote the health of your bones.
3. Nut butter
Nut butter made with almonds, pecans, and macadamia is a good option too.
Almost all types of nuts contain a large amount of fat but that doesn’t mean they are bad for you.
The type of fat is the most important factor to consider and this is where almond butter has a slight edge over its peanut counterpart.
Almond butter contains nearly three times as much vitamin E twice as much iron and seven times more calcium than peanut butter.
4. Dark chocolate
Dark chocolate improves blood flow to the brain as well as to the heart and may help prevent the formation of blood clots.
Eating dark chocolate may also prevent arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).
It is loaded with antioxidants, which help free your body of free radicals.
Free radicals are implicated in the aging process and may be a cause of cancer.
Eating dark chocolate has powerful health benefits, including memory improvement and an immunity boost.
A small square of dark chocolate or regular chocolate that contains at least 80% cocoa or higher is a safe choice.
Low-protein cheeses like mascarpone and cream cheese.
Rather than beginning with milk mascarpone starts with full fat cream this is gently acidified and cooked at a high temperature which results in a markedly sweet taste and voluminous fluffy texture.
Pickles are excellent health foods- loaded with nutrients, low in calories, and also an excellent food source to the good bacteria that live in our stomachs, known as a prebiotic food.
Sugar-free pickles can really hit the spot when craving something salty and sour.
7. Kale chips
Kale’s health benefits are primarily linked to the high concentration and excellent source of antioxidant vitamins A, C, and K and sulfur-containing phytonutrients.
Carotenoids and flavonoids are the specific types of antioxidants associated with many of the anti-cancer health benefits.
Kale is also rich in the eye-health promoting lutein and zeaxanthin compounds.
Beyond antioxidants, the fiber content of cruciferous kale binds bile acids and helps lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease, especially when kale is cooked instead of raw.
For drinks, you can have unsweetened coffee or iced tea.
Remember this is only a snack so eat them with moderation otherwise, you can end up gaining the weight you want to lose.
Is the Ketogenic diet suitable for vegetarians and vegans?
Since the keto diet is based in high-fat, low carb often includes o lot of meat in it.
But there is also a way to approach this diet if you are a vegetarian or a vegan, it’s called the vegetarian ketogenic diet.
This is a hybrid eating plan which is healthier for the environment, animals and of course, for humans.
Keep the Ketogenic diet without animal source foods
The vegetarian keto diet excludes meat, fish and fowl flesh and also restricts carbohydrates.
Use avocados, macadamia nuts, almonds, pecans and walnuts, and pumpkin, sunflower, and flax seeds are some of the options for you to have the fat you require into your meal.
Tofu and tempeh are great options for your proteins. For your vegetables spinach, arugula, swiss chard, kale, broccoli, cabbage, mushrooms, green beans, and cauliflower.
And for fruits try to limit yourself to small servings of blackberry, blueberry, and raspberries.
Does the Ketogenic diet work with intermittent fasting?
The whole idea of the keto diet and intermittent fasting comes down to this.
When you fast, you are no longer eating, so that means your body takes your body fat and takes those fatty acids and turns them into ketones. So by default, when fasting you are in ketosis.
What is autophagy?
Fasting has additional benefits like autophagy where your cells are recycling, but a lot of the benefits come back to those ketones again.
Whereas ketosis has its whole separate myriad of benefits; massive amounts of ketone bodies that you are artificially encouraging the creation of by enormous amounts of fat being added into your diet.
As Thomas deLauer brilliantly explains, what happens once your body is using fat and you deprive yourself of dietary fat? The body starts rampantly looking around saying, “Where the heck is all this fat that I’m so accustomed to?” So it freaks out, and it has no choice but to go to its next source of fat, which is your body fat.
Does the Ketogenic diet help improve the fatty liver?
A fatty liver, also known as steatosis, basically is when the liver starts to get so inflamed with extra triglycerides and extra fat, that it literally develops fatty tissue.
Put in other words, is when you have more fat than your liver can process.
So when we consume way too many carbohydrates or even a little bit too many carbohydrates, it goes through a process known as ‘de novo lipogenesis’ where it gets turned into fat.
The Journal of digestive disease and science published a pilot study on which they evaluated the effects of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet on the obesity-associated fatty liver disease on five patients.
After six months of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet led to significant weight loss and histologic improvement of fatty liver disease of four out of the five patients.
What are the best supplements to take with the Ketogenic diet?
If you are following or thinking about following the keto diet you must find interesting to know that some supplements might actually help you get into ketosis faster, boost your energy levels and also control stress hormones.
1. Exogenous ketones
Exogenous ketones are ketone bodies you consume from an external source. Usually in the form of beta-hydroxybutyrate salts.
BHB is one of the ketone bodies and it’s mainly used as a fuel source for the brain.
Exogenous ketones supplement will give your body more ketones to burn for fuel, so you would get into ketosis faster.
Collagen makes up 30% of the total protein in your body, your body is going to use it for regenerating and creating new and healthy tissues, everything from your ligaments and tendons to your gut lining, to your skin, hair, and nails.
It makes a fibrous network that replaces dead skin cells and makes your skin smooth and wrinkle-free.
3. Medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil
Medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil which is also found in coconut oil, is the type of fat your body loves to burn for fuel.
This is because it bypasses certain organs like the liver so your body goes to burn it right away.
It improves your brain cognitively, helps reduce inflammation, lessen arthritis pain, and improve joint functioning overall.
It is also really good for skin conditions such as eczema or rosacea.
Probiotics play an essential role in our digestive metabolic and immune functions.
They produce enzymes that break down food, regulate vitamin and nutrient uptake and convert sugars into essential nutrients.
Good bacteria are also the first line of defense for our immune system blocking toxins, breaking down allergy-causing proteins and crowding out harmful bacteria.
Probiotics can line your gut and help your immune system, they support nutrient absorption and digestion.
Ashwagandha is an herb that will help to keep your cortisol and stress hormone levels low and also reducing your anxiety.
It’s also been shown to increase stamina and endurance.
6. Mega keto
Mega keto may help you feel less hungry, sustain more energy throughout the day and improve mental clarity.
For the best results take mega keto supplement 20-30 minutes before your meal with an 8 oz glass of water.
7. Extreme keto fat burner
Extreme keto fat burner pills are loaded with effective amounts of BHB salts (beta-hydroxybutyrate), these BHB Exogenous Ketones push your body to burn off excess fats and convert them into energy.
Is the Ketogenic diet safe?
Nutrient deficiencies seem to be an obvious issue regarding keto diet safety.
Inadequate intake of 17 micronutrients, vitamins, and minerals have been documented in those on a strict ketogenic diet.
A study held by the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition and published in the Biomed Central points to the prevalence of micronutrient deficiency in popular diet plans.
Another research in ScienceDirect, shown that ketogenic diets can reduce the species richness and diversity of intestinal microbiota.
The European Heart Journal also found an association between low carbohydrate diets and mortality.
Is the Ketogenic diet safe when breastfeeding?
Even though there’s no evidence that low-carb diets in general decrease milk production or hurt the quality of milk for breastfeeding moms, dietitian and mom of three Elizabeth Ward, says that she does not recommend this diet for breastfeeding women because the diet restricts healthy foods like fruits and whole grains.
“I can’t endorse such an extreme eating plan for breastfeeding women”Elizabeth Ward, author of Expect The Best: Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before, During, and After Pregnancy.
What are the benefits of the Ketogenic diet for PCOS?
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a health problem that affects 1 in 10 women of childbearing age.
PCOS is caused by an imbalance of reproductive hormones which creates problems in the ovaries.
The ovaries make the egg that is released each month as part of a healthy menstrual cycle. With PCOS, the egg may not develop as it should or it may not be released during ovulation as it should be.
A study from the University of Alabama showed that PCOS can be genetic, 24% of the women with PCOS had a mother who was positive for it and 32% had a sister positive too.
What are some PCOS symptoms?
The majority of women with this disease are overweight or obese, might have excess hair on their face, neck, chest or back, have severe acne, could have skin tags, dark patches of skin or baldness.
The ketogenic diet might help you regulate your hormones since is low in carbs, so your insulin levels are low too.
A case study on 4 women with PCOS trying to conceive while following a ketogenic diet and assess their fecundity after a period of 6 months was published by the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists journal.
They highlighted the ketogenic diet as a potential treatment option in the PCOS patient population, which may potentially assist with restoring normal menstrual cycles, ovulation, and thus improving fertility.
For more info about PCOS check the website of the Office on Women’s Health.
What are the benefits of the Ketogenic diet for psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a chronic disease associated with overweight/obesity and related cardiometabolic complications.
It is an idiopathic chronic immune-mediated skin condition in which the body’s immune system undergoes several derangements, including increased antigen presentation by T cells and increased T-helper cell type 1 cytokines, resulting in skin lesions as well as arthritis.
Some facts about psoriasis
Psoriasis is considered the most prevalent autoimmune disease in the United States and affects approximately 7.4 million people.
Keto is NOT to be used as a solution but in combination with whatever medicines your doctor has prescribed.
Any anti-inflammatory diet can make a huge difference, again, when combined with your medication.
A research held by the Clinical Nutrition Unit from Avellino, Italy, reports a case of a woman in her 40s suffering from relapsing moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis and obesity-related metabolic syndrome, in whom adequate response to ongoing treatment with biological therapy (adalimumab) was restored after only 4 weeks of very-low-calorie, carbohydrate-free (ketogenic), protein-based diet.
Does the Ketogenic diet have any benefit for epilepsy?
Sometimes, medication alone is not enough to help people with epilepsy.
There’s a research-based hope in the Epilepsy Society that keto diet can reduce or prevent seizures.
This is because ketone build-up can reduce the seizures, but you must work with a dietitian nutritionist and your doctor.
Does the Ketogenic diet have any benefit for cancer treatment?
The idea is providing a fat-rich, low-carbohydrate diet in cancer therapy is to reduce circulating glucose levels and induce ketosis such that cancer cells are starved of energy while normal cells adapt their metabolism to use ketone bodies and survive.
Furthermore, reducing blood glucose also levels of insulin and insulin-like growth factor, which are important drivers of cancer cell proliferation, drop.
According to research by the Impact Journal on Aging the keto diet appears to be a promising and powerful option for adjuvant therapy for a range of cancers.
What are the benefits of the Ketogenic diet when treating IBS?
In short, if you’re doing a lower carb and deriving benefit from it, continue with it.
Now do not continue with that dietary approach if you’re feeling fatigued or irritable or having insomnia, because a lower carb approach is not going to be the best approach for everyone, but for some, it will be helpful.
A study was held by the Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology in which a total of 17 individuals were enrolled.
All 13 participants who completed the study were responders who reported adequate relief of IBS-D symptoms for at least 2 of the 4 weeks during the very low-carbohydrate diet, and 10 participants (77%) reported adequate relief for all four weeks.
All 13 participants reported adequate relief in the last week of the very low-carbohydrate diet.
Is the Ketogenic diet dangerous?
Can the ketogenic diet cause pancreatitis?
Hypertriglyceridemia is a risk factor for developing acute pancreatitis.
The high-fat content of the ketogenic diet often causes hyperlipidemia.
There is concern regarding the potential consequences of the ketogenic diet, according to research by the Department of Pediatrics, Dalhousie University, IWK Health Centre, Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Can the ketogenic diet cause gout?
In 2017, researchers at Yale University conducted a study on how a ketogenic diet affects inflammasome.
The research looked st how neutrophil-mediated production of interleukin-1β (IL-1β) drives gouty flares to cause joint destruction, intense pain, and fever.
They identified that the ketogenic diet (KD) increases β-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) and alleviates urate crystal-induced gout without impairing immune defense against bacterial infection.
Can the ketogenic diet cause gallstones?
The main role of the gallbladder is to store bile (which is made in the liver), and in turn, the role of bile is to digest fat.
People assume eating a lot of fat is somehow linked to an increased risk of gallstones, which are solid deposits of cholesterol and bile that can form in the gallbladder.
But most of the cholesterol in the bloodstream is made inside the body not derived from the diet.
None of the common causes of gallstones (including inherited body chemistry, body weight, low gallbladder motility, and low-calorie diet) are linked to the keto diet.
Can the ketogenic diet cause Ketoacidosis?
This is a condition typically seen in type-1 diabetics, where ketones and blood sugar levels are both dangerously high.
The key factor in the development of ketoacidosis is a lack of insulin. The cells cannot shuttle in glucose from the bloodstream for energy use and the body has no signal to stop releasing fats.
Ketoacidosis isn’t a danger directly associated with the ketogenic diet.
What are the benefits of the Ketogenic diet when combined with exercise?
During exercise the liver promotes increased fat uptake and the conversion of fat first to acetyl-CoA and then to the ketone body acetoacetate, then this acetoacetate gets converted into beta-hydroxybutyrate which can be used as a source of fuel.
So basically, when you exercise your body in a way is going into a state of ketosis, but not in a dietary state of ketosis, not in nutritional ketosis.
A study published by the ClinMed International Library shows that a low-carbohydrate diet combined with 6 weeks of CrossFit training can lead to significant decreases in percent body fat, fat mass, weight, and BMI while maintaining a lean body mass and improving performance.
When given a choice the brain, heart, and muscles will choose ketones over glucose, they can only do this if both are present in the blood.
Ketones are aerobic only. High-intensity exercise like the 100-yard sprint or Olympic lifting is purely anaerobic and requires glucose.
Is the Ketogenic diet good to build muscle?
The ketogenic diet is a kind of diet that helps you preserve your muscle.
When you are in keto you have the ability to be ‘dual-fueled’, which means that your body can run on carbs when it needs to but also run on fats.
What are the three phases of energy?
There are three different phases of energy when it comes down to producing power in your body.
The first is ‘aerobic’ which means ‘with oxygen’. When you use the aerobic system your body has enough time to breathe in oxygen and turn it into energy.
The second phase is ‘anaerobic’ which is where you are working just hard enough that your body cannot get enough oxygen so it has to use carbs.
The last phase is called ‘creatine phosphate system’ which utilizes neither fats nor carbs for energy, it utilizes built-up energy that is already in your body. This system gives you energy in the first few reps of heavy activity or any super intense load that you are going to be under for a short amount of time.
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