Curious to know what a ketogenic diet is and what are the opinions on it ? Do you want to know what foods are allowed on the ketogenic diet?
Contrary to what you might think, the meals included in the ketogenic diet ( also called “keto diet” ) are far from depressing and tasteless !
Ketosis offers a number of advantages in terms of weight loss. But the ketogenic diet is also controversial and should be distinguished from a low carbohydrate diet.
Here is what you will discover in this article:
- What makes the ketogenic diet so unique
- The best recipes of ketogenic diet (especially for breakfast)
- If ketogenic diet is harmful to health
- Positive and negative opinions on the ketogenic diet
- Permitted and prohibited foods from the ketogenic diet
- And much more…
What Is A Ketogenic Diet?
You probably have already heard of the ketogenic diet as it has gained popularity recently. It is sometimes called ” ketogenic diet “, ” keto diet” or even the high-fat diet. But what exactly is the ketogenic diet?
The ketogenic diet is a low-carbohydrate diet consisting mainly of high-fat foods. In other words: you eat more healthy fats and reduce your carbohydrate intake as much as possible.
The keto diet resembles low-carbohydrate diets (the Atkins diet, for example) in many ways.
However, there is a difference between the ketogenic diet and other low carbohydrate diets:
A low-carbohydrate diet, as its name suggests, consists mainly of avoiding carbohydrates.
The ketogenic diet recommends a high fat diet to stimulate fat burning. You significantly reduce your carbohydrate intake and replace it with large amounts of fat.
After a few days, the depletion of carbohydrates (the body turns carbohydrates into glucose, which is the body’s main source of energy) places the body in a metabolic state called ketosis.
What Is Ketosis?
Ketosis is the state in which your body begins to use fat as its main source of energy. The body then becomes very efficient at burning fat in order to draw energy from it and compensate the deficiency of carbs. This process reduces your insulin levels and stimulates fat burning.
The brain prefers glucose as an energy source. But when the glucose reserves are insufficient, the body is forced to look for another source of energy.
Ketogenic Diet And the Treatment Of Epilepsy
The benefits of ketogenic diet are not limited to weight loss.
The ketogenic diet is also extremely effective in helping children with epilepsy control their seizures (source).
About 1 in 3 children with epilepsy respond poorly to the anti-epileptic drugs currently available. But more than 70 % of these children respond well to the ketogenic diet.
For this group of children suffering from epilepsy, a few weeks of ketogenic diet is enough to see results. Epileptic seizures are found to be considerably less common and even disappear completely.
Why You Should Follow the Ketogenic Diet?
Diets low in carbohydrates and high in fat have long been controversial. This type of diet was thought to increase cholesterol and the risk of cardiovascular disease due to the high fat intake.
But fortunately, times are changing, and today, diets high in (healthy) lipids are no longer necessarily frowned upon. The ketogenic diet can help you lose much more weight than a fat-free diet (source).
The ketogenic diet also has less obvious advantages. Eliminating simple carbohydrates from your diet helps your body to reduce peak blood sugar levels. Your diet is composed mainly of fats, so it also provides a great satiety.
The number of calories per gram differs from one nutrient to another:
- Proteins: ±4 kcal for 1 g
- Carbohydrates: ±4 kcal per 1 g
- Lipids(fats): ±9 kcal for 1 g
A simple calculation could lead one to think that one should eat as little fat as possible to lose weight. After all, they’re more caloric, aren’t they? That’s where the mistake is! The effect of each type of calorie should also be considered.
The main effects of different calories on the body in terms of weight loss are:
– Insulin: a hormone that causes your body to start storing more fat
– Satiety: the body activates satiety hormones and / or inhibits hunger hormones
So, in short this can be illustrated that way:
- Moderate insulin production
- Maximum satiety
- Minimum insulin production
- Moderate satiety
- Maximum insulin production
- Minimum satiety
You probably understand that eating too many calories in the form of carbohydrates is not wise. If you do eat too many calories from carbohydrates, then your body will produce large amounts of insulin (the fat storage hormone) without hunger or nutritional needs being satisfied.
On the other hand, proteins and fats provide much higher satiety (source), so that a ketogenic diet is easier to follow over time.
Benefits of The Ketogenic Diet?
The balance between macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins and fats) has completely disappeared from our diet in the modern world.
The problem is, that our carbohydrate intake has literally skyrocketed.
A 2000 survey suggests that carbohydrates make up about 55% of Western energy intake.
If we look at prehistoric hunter-gatherers diet, carbohydrates have never exceeded 40% of their energy intake.
Take a look at the graphs below to compare the proportions of hunter-gatherer macronutrients and Western societies:
As you can see, it seems that the public authorities and the food industry have turned our food upside down. The Result: obesity and type 2 diabetes are rampant.
* Our original Diet did not include (almost) any processed carbohydrates. These are therefore not shown in the graph.
Why Does A Ketogenic Diet Cause Weight Loss?
Daily consumption of large amounts of simple sugars leads to a decrease in insulin sensitivity.
Insulin plays a major role in fat storage. Since the body can store only a limited amount of glucose, a surplus results in an increase in fat mass.
Excluding carbohydrates from your daily diet in favor of high-fat foods will lower your insulin levels and improve your insulin sensitivity. Your body goes into ketosis state and burns fat more effectively.
Here are the three main reasons why ketogenic diet causes weight loss:
- The ketogenic diet reduces insulin production and controls blood sugar.
- Eating more protein and fat leads to faster and more sustainable satiety.
- Satiety caused by a diet rich in protein and lipids reduces daily calorie intake, which ultimately
- leads to weight loss.
- The body begins to draw its energy mainly from fat, which leads to burning more body fat.
Another advantage of the ketogenic diet is that ketosis inhibits the secretion of ghrelin.
Ghrelin is commonly called the “hunger hormone”, because it stimulates appetite. Ghrelin levels increase as weight is lost, because the body is biologically programmed to survive.
Is The Ketogenic Diet Dangerous?
Many people panic when they learn that the ketogenic diet consists mainly of fats.
Eating so much fat is bad for your health, isn’t it? After all, we are what we eat, right?
But the reality is a little more nuanced.
It is very important to consume good healthy fats when following a ketogenic diet, as lipids constitute not less than 70 % of the daily calorie intake.
The omega-3 fatty acids are the best fats for your health, and I recommend you to make them a priority in your diet, whether you follow the ketogenic or other type of diet. One way to eat these good fats is to eat a lot of fatty fish. For example, salmon, tuna, herring, etc.
The ideal ratio between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids is 1:1.
We already have enough omega-6 fats, especially in meat. This is not the case for omega-3. This is why it is advisable to eat omega-3 fatty foods.
It is best to avoid saturated fats as much as possible. Saturated fats are found primarily in animal products such as whole dairy products and fatty meat.
However, saturated fats are not as bad for health as has long been thought. The fact is that they are often found in processed products. More recent studies, starting in 2010, have found that saturated fats such as butter are not associated with risk of cardiovascular disease or premature death (source).
On the other hand, you should avoid trans fatty acids, which are of industrial origin and are very harmful to health. They increase the risk of insulin resistance (type 2 diabetes) and cardiovascular disease (source).
Does The Ketogenic Diet Have Any Side Effects?
Although the ketogenic diet is safe for healthy people, it can cause some unwanted side effects during the period of adaptation to the diet.
This period is called Ketogenic flu. This one lasts for a few days. The possible side effects include:
- Lack of energy
- Increased appetite
- Sleep disorders
- Gastrointestinal disorders
- Decline in sports performance
To minimize the side effects in the early stages of the diet, it is advisable to start with a low carbohydrate diet first. Your body can then learn to burn more fat until your carbohydrate intake reaches 20-40 g per day.
A ketogenic diet can also disrupt the water balance and the amount of minerals in your body.
Try ingesting the following amounts of minerals every day to minimize side effects.
- 3000-4000 mg of sodium
- 1000 mg of potassium
- 300 mg magnesium
Especially during the first days of the ketogenic diet, it is important that you eat until you are full.
Don’t pay too much attention to calories. In the long run, ketosis will cause you to lose weight without having to worry about any calorie restriction.
The Advantages Of the Keto Diet
- Stabilises blood sugar
- Increases insulin sensitivity
- Inhibits appetite
- Causes a decrease in triglyceride levels
- Reduces fat storage and stimulates its combustion
- Improves cognitive function
- Reduces seizures in children with epilepsy
- Decreases the risk of cancer
- Slows the process of dementia (Alzheimer’s disease)
- Reduces chronic inflammation
The ketogenic diet is an effective diet for weight loss and fat burning.
4 Possible Dangers Of The Ketogenic Diet
The keto diet, like any other diet, has some drawbacks that you need to know before you start.
You may lack energy during the first few days of the ketogenic diet. You may feel tired and apathetic (this is called Ketogenic flu).
This is not surprising since the body must adapt to this diet composed almost exclusively of lipids and proteins. Your body can take up to 2 weeks to fully tap into its new fat energy source.
Extremely low in carbohydrates, this diet is not suitable for athletes. People who participate in high-explosive sports such as weightlifters report, among other things, that they suffer from poor muscle recovery when they consume low carbohydrates (source). Some people claim to live perfectly with very little glucose, but these are mostly people with a sedentary lifestyle.
The brain still needs a minimum amount of glucose to function properly. While the body is capable of producing glucose from lipids and proteins through gluconeogenesis, it is a heavy and energy-intensive process.
The Inuit (Eskimo from Greenland) do it very well, but they do not have access to fruits and vegetables because of the cold weather.
The keto diet can cause constipation. Not everyone suffers from this, but the risk does exist. Fortunately, this is often temporary and can be remedied with good hydration, magnesium supplements and increased salt intake (1 to 3 g per day).
3. Water Loss
It is true that the ketogenic diet causes a lot of weight loss, because the body is forced to burn fat to produce energy. But apart from fat loss, water loss also plays an important role.
Carbohydrates hold water in your body. Eliminating carbohydrates from your diet will result in water loss. It also means that as soon as you eat carbohydrate-rich meals again, water retention will resume.
4. Vitamin And Mineral Deficiency
When you are on a ketogenic diet, you are restricted to an extremely low carbohydrate diet. Where the problem often lies is the elimination of fruit, which is one of the best sources of carbohydrates.
A medium banana provides 33 grams of carbohydrate. This will quickly exceed 50 g of carbohydrates per day.
Avoiding fruits and vegetables can lead to a lack of essential nutrients that you need to stay healthy.
Ketogenic Diet: What Foods Are Permitted?
The advantage of the ketogenic diet is that you don’t have to limit yourself to poor or bland meals. If you like fish and meat, this diet is for you!
As a large amount of fat is ingested each day, it is important to worry about the type of fat consumed. It is advisable to limit the consumption of omega-6 fatty acids which in excess, have a pro-inflammatory effect.
The main sources of omega-6 are soy oils, corn, safflower, grape seeds, sunflower and wheat germ.
The consumption of monounsaturated fats (olive oil, avocado, nuts) and saturated fats (fatty meat cuts, fat-rich dairy products) is recommended. The use of coconut oil is recommended because it contains fats that are easily transformed into ketones. Finally, the consumption of omega-3 in fatty fish, rapeseed and flax oil, nuts and chia, flax and hemp seeds should be sufficient.
We must therefore limit the consumption of salad dressings, salad dressings and mayonnaises made with these oils.
Here are the foods allowed for the ketogenic diet:
- Red meat (beef, horse, hamburgers, bacon, sausages)
- Poultry (chicken, turkey, duck)
- Fish and seafood (herring, mackerel, salmon, mussels, shrimp, tuna, trout, anchovies))
- Dairy products (butter, all types of cheese, fresh cream (unsweetened))
- Fats (fish oil, linseed oil, coconut oil))
- Nuts (cashews, almonds, hazelnuts)
- Vegetables (asparagus, avocado, broccoli, cauliflower, olives)
For a graphic representation of the foods allowed in the ketogenic diet look at the keto pyramid below:
9 Delicious Ketogenic Recipes
To help you get started on your ketogenic diet, I’ve prepared 3 breakfast recipes, 3 Lunch Recipes and 3 keto diner recipes.
Give you an idea of what a ketogenic meal day looks like. Enjoy !
3 Ketogenic Recipes For Breakfast:
Ketogenic Breakfast Recipe 1 Omelet, Avocado Salsa And Pepper
2 organic eggs
½ Minced onion
1 chopped pepper
Salt and pepper
2 teaspoons coconut oil
Heat 2 teaspoons of coconut oil and add the eggs.
Add the onions and chopped peppers.
Top your omelet with the avocado.
Breakfast No. 2: peanut butter yogurt and cocoa powder
250 g sugar-free yoghurt
½ Tablespoon peanut butter
1 teaspoon raw cocoa powder
½ Teaspoon of stevia
Mix the yogurt with the peanut butter, cocoa powder, and stevia.
Breakfast No. 3: eggs with cheese, salami and fresh spinach
Salt and pepper
3 slices of salami
Heat 2 teaspoons of coconut oil and add the eggs.
Pepper and salt to taste.
Add the salami and grated cheese slices to the pan.
Garnish with 150 g of fresh spinach.
3 ketogenic recipes for lunch
Lunch 1: hazelnuts, celery sticks and fresh cheese
A handful of hazelnuts
6 celery sticks
3 tablespoons of fresh cheese
Dip the celery sticks in the fresh cheese and hazelnuts and enjoy !
Lunch # 2: beef with vegetables
lunch 2 beef with vegetables
200 g beef cutlet
250 g frozen vegetables
2 teaspoons coconut oil
Thaw the vegetables.
In a skillet, heat 2 teaspoons of coconut oil and sauté the beef cutlet.
Cook the vegetables according to your taste.
Lunch 3 tuna with vegetables
125 g canned tuna in oil
200 g frozen vegetables
2 tablespoons of mayonnaise
Thaw the vegetables.
Cook the vegetables according to your taste.
Remove the tuna from the can and place it on a plate.
Add 2 tablespoons of tuna mayonnaise.
Add the vegetables and mix well.
3 ketogenic recipes for dinner
Dinner # 1: pesto chicken, fresh vegetables and cheese
chicken and vegetables
300 g chicken
1 tablespoon pesto
A bag of sautéed vegetables
A bowl of fresh cheese
Cook the chicken and cover with pesto on both sides.
Cook the vegetables.
Cut the chicken into pieces, add the vegetables and tomatoes and stir.
Add fresh cheese to taste.
Dinner # 2: chopped Steaks mayonnaise
2 steak chopped beef
40 ml of mayonnaise
1 tablespoon olive oil
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and cook the minced steak.
Dinner # 3: salmon and spinach eggs
Eggs salmon and spinach
450 g frozen cream leeks
400 g pink salmon
1 teaspoon of herbs of your choice
½ Red pepper
Preheat the oven to 175 degrees.
Mix all ingredients together.
Pour into muffin moulds, almost to the edge.
Bake for about 15 minutes.
Lose your excess weight and abdominal fat quickly with simple slimming recipes
Did you know that research shows that diet increases weight in one in three people?