Keto diet is very popular these days. Focused on low carbohydrate and high lipid consumption, this diet seems particularly popular with athletes and people wishing to lose weight . But is this really a miracle recipe? Is this diet suitable for all audiences? Find out everything you need to know about the keto diet .
What is the ketogenic diet?
The ketogenic diet, also known as the keto diet (or ” low carb ” in English) is a deliberately low-carb diet. Conversely, this extremely strict diet encourages the consumption of foods rich in lipids such as vegetable oils, cheese, fatty fish, eggs or cold meats, up to 80% of the daily energy intake. The goal is to achieve a state of ketosis.
For a daily diet of 2,000 calories, this concretely consists of ingesting 1,600 calories from fatty substances . The rest of the intake comes from protein, up to 300-400 calories, followed by carbohydrates for just 100-200 calories. Thus, this diet recommends not to consume more than 50 grams of carbohydrates per day.
Originally conceived to meet the needs of patients with pathologies such as epilepsy, the ketogenic diet is now also used by athletes wishing to promote weight loss. This diet indeed causes a feeling of satiety.
How does the keto diet work?
The principle of this diet is relatively simple. It aims to force the body to draw energy from fatty substances by significantly reducing glucose intake (this sugar stored in the body is normally the primary source of energy for cells). In other words, the ketogenic diet mimics the mechanism of fasting .
More specifically, the body can no longer produce energy from glucose, it will find an alternative source in the carbohydrate reserves stored in the body. This leads in particular to a significant loss of water , the first responsible for the reduction in weight .
The body then uses lipids and fats to generate energy, at the same time producing waste products called ketones . The accumulation of these wastes in the blood leads to the state of ketosis, marked by bad breath and a marked decrease in appetite. Food consumption is therefore reduced, which promotes weight loss .
What foods are allowed and prohibited in this diet?
All foods high in fat are recommended as part of the ketogenic diet. Concretely, the daily diet must include vegetable oils , whether it is coconut oil, flaxseed oil or olive oil and coconut milk. It is the basis of all ketogenic diet recipes.
Likewise, foods such as green vegetables low in carbohydrates (lettuce, spinach, broccoli, etc.), fatty meats and fish (beef, pork, salmon, sardines, etc.), eggs, dairy products such as butter or cream, avocados or even tofu should be favored.
Finally, it is also advisable to favor oilseeds . Almonds, pistachios, coconut, chia or sunflower seeds or cashews are the best allies of the ketogenic diet .
Conversely, all foods rich in carbohydrates will be banned from the diet . Thus, carbonated drinks are to be excluded, as are bread, pastries and pastries, pasta, rice, wheat, honey, maple syrup, corn, legumes or dairy products with a high content of carbohydrates such as yogurt.
Potatoes, carrots or sweet potatoes are also discarded, without forgetting most fruits (apples, bananas, tangerines, pears, pineapples, dates, kiwis, melons, etc.). Only fruits low in carbohydrates such as berries or oranges can be consumed in very small quantities.
What are the benefits of the keto diet?
The “low carb” diet has several benefits. First, it allows the body to learn how to produce energy from fat. This results in an increase in endurance, which explains why this diet is particularly adopted by athletes practicing sports such as running.
It also helps in losing weight to some extent.
But this low-carbohydrate diet is especially relevant for people with certain illnesses. For type II diabetes for example, this diet will allow the pancreas to generate less insulin, which stabilizes blood sugar. The same is true for pathologies such as cancer insofar as the proliferation of cancer cells, which consume large amounts of sugar, will be limited.
For patients with epileptic seizures or affected by Alzheimer’s disease, the keto diet may reduce the inflammation responsible for the pathology in the brain.
What are the dangers of the keto diet?
While this diet can be effective in some cases, it is not suitable for everyone. For example, it is difficult to adapt to it, both physiologically and in everyday life. Extremely restrictive, it can cause side effects related to the lack of glucose such as nausea, headaches or a feeling of general fatigue. Likewise, it is complex to reconcile with a social life.
By using a low carbohydrate diet, the food balance will be truncated. This therefore goes against the grain of the recommendations for a balanced and healthy diet, with the elimination, for example, of fruits and vegetables. Likewise, the foods allowed in this diet are mainly derived from animal products, the excessive consumption of which in the long term can cause health problems.
In conclusion, the ketogenic diet will prove to be difficult for the vast majority of individuals to apply. If your goal is to lose weight, it is better to eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly. On the other hand, it has significant advantages for high level athletes who are perfectly supervised or for people with certain pathologies.
Risks inherent in this plan
1. Reduction in the consumption of fruits and vegetables
Most ketogenic diets minimize the intake of vegetables and fruits. The body therefore receives a minimum intake of vitamins, minerals and fiber, so abundant in this type of food. We could solve this inconvenience by consuming more vitamins.
2. Reduction of fiber intake
Low fiber intake is the cause of constipation problem. We therefore recommend consuming a type of infused ion with laxative effects , like the infusion of mauve.
3. Bad breath
It is also common to have bad breath (halitosis) due to the high production of ketones . Some studies also suggest that this type of diet increases the feeling of fatigue due to the absence of carbohydrates in the diet.
4. Reduction of cognitive level
The brain must use ketones to replace glucose, its preferred fuel. L es cognitive performance can then be affected, as has been demonstrated d es American scientists.
5. Difficult to follow
Some people find that ketogenic diets are easier to follow than those that are not. However, studies show the opposite. Indeed, the inability to consume popular foods such as cereals, bread, vegetables, fruit or Legum ineuses, significantly reduced its adhésio n .
In extreme cases, ketoacidosis can result from a massive increase of ketones in the blood, caused when ant damage to certain organs, even causing coma.
It is therefore essential to be in good health and to consult a health professional regularly to follow this type of diet. You could indeed have serious problems if you have kidney or liver failure.
Precautions to take !
In addition to the disadvantages inherent in this type of diet, there are some more vulnerable risk groups:
- People with liver or heart problems as this diet can lead to the development of arrhythmias
- Pregnant or breastfeeding women
- People with kidney failure
The ketogenic diet is not a diet that we can live our entire lives or that promotes healthy lifestyles. It is not a balanced diet. Rather, it offers an occasional and temporary alternative to losing weight and fat.
Finally, remember that it is important to consult a specialist before following any nutritional regimen. It looks so ra your current health and your progress.
Ketogenic Diet: Keto FAQs, Questions / Answers
Ketogenic diet: how to avoid deviations and manage track excursions?
Off the track is quick, whether you are in the attack phase of a ketogenic diet with less than 20 g of carbohydrates per day, or in the long-term keto diet with up to 50 g of carbohydrates allowed. A croissant, a sandwich or a beer, and it’s potentially off the track. Disadvantage: it takes at least 3 to 7 days to return to ketosis again.
Personally, I plan phases for breathing and eating without restriction. But in saying this, I know that draws me the wrath of ketogenic diet purists who consider long-term keto-adaptation to be the only goal that the keto diet enthusiast should seek . But even by aiming for this mode of food in the long term, it seems to me useful from a social point of view to be able to make a meal without restriction, even to resume a more traditional diet for a while. The ideal is to be able to plan it in advance according to its objectives.
I only use them as a last resort, but they are always present in my cupboards in case of emergency. They are sometimes criticized on certain sites or in certain works. Personally, I prefer to use them when needed and sometimes find them very helpful in avoiding 5 days of keto induction to get back into ketosis .
How to live your Keto diet in society?
How to successfully follow a ketogenic diet while sharing meals with family , and without imposing this diet on others? The easiest would be to get together as a couple for organizational reasons. But indeed it may not be suitable for those around you, and even be dangerous, for children in particular.
There are many balanced menus that are easily adaptable to the keto diet with a few modifications. I find it particularly easy to adapt Mediterranean-style menus to ketogenic mode. All you have to do is to ignore the prohibited ingredients on your own plate or replace them with low carb substitutes .
My preference goes towards the Nice, Cretan and Mediterranean diets. Other diets like Weight Watchers are also easily adaptable and can serve as a basis of inspiration to easily adapt dishes and recipes and benefit the whole family.
Alcohol and the ketogenic diet: the keto aperitif, is it possible?
As you already know, all alcohol should be consumed in moderation. The best way to get into ketosis more easily , especially the first time, is to start with an alcohol-free induction phase .
But it is not impossible to have a social life and have a drink or two when following this diet. As with everything else, you have to know how to count carbohydrates. For that, Google is your friend: just type the name of the drink followed by the word carbohydrate to obtain the quantity per 100 ml.
Contrary to what many people believe, most hard liquor does not contain carbohydrates. This is why I often opt for the whiskey sausage mode when it comes to aperitif time with friends. For wine lovers , it is quite possible to continue to taste your best wines while practicing a ketogenic diet. Depending on the wine, the values vary between 2 and 4 g of carbohydrates per 100 ml, which allows you to enjoy a glass or two depending on your meals during the day. Prefer dry wines and brut champagne.
For beer lovers, life gets more complicated. It varies a lot depending on the beer, but a half is often at least 9-10g of carbohydrate.
I’m out: how do I stick to my ketogenic diet?
How Do You Manage Your Keto Diet If You Are Out?
Following a ketogenic diet can sometimes be a real challenge. As much as I consider this diet to be the least restrictive that I have been given to follow, there are sometimes times more difficult than others, in particular festive meals, outings to restaurants, invitations to friends or family.
I always bring a plate of cold cuts and cheese when I am invited for the aperitif. I don’t come empty-handed and above all, I’m sure I won’t end up hungry.
During a meal, the challenge often arises at the time of dessert. If luckily the cheese platter is fairly well supplied, I take advantage at this time by choosing those that respect very low carbohydrate levels (most). Be careful, however, dairy products should be eaten in relatively small quantities during the induction phase .
When it’s time for dessert, no miracle: either I keep a low profile and say I’m not hungry anymore, or I clearly explain why I’m skipping it.
Do you have any other tips? Do not hesitate to share them by leaving a comment at the bottom of this page!
I’m Stagnant: Keto Plateau
For those whose goal of the ketogenic diet is to lose weight , there may be frustrating times when losing fat does not always lead to weight loss.
There are a few strategies to get out of these phases of stagnation or plateau.
One of the strategies to help you continue losing weight and to think about the quantities of your rations is to take a picture of everything you are going to eat.
It is possible that the stagnation is due to too much intake of calories, even if the distribution of macros is respected and ketosis is installed. We can then reduce the calories of meals with the use of low calorie ingredients (pickles, konjac, etc.) or by testing mindfulness eating.
In addition, I use other more or less known tips:
- Start by drinking a full glass of water before each meal,
- Eat without distraction, without disturbance, without television,
- Eat slowly,
- Try to become aware of all the elements: colors, textures, flavors, smells,
- Constantly look for signals of satiety .
Keto Flu or Ketogenic Flu: How to Mitigate It?
The keto flu (or ketogenic flu) is a set of classic symptoms that may be experienced in the early days and resemble those of the flu:
- Feeling tired,
These symptoms are a sign that the body is adjusting to its new way of consuming energy based on the consumption of fat instead of carbohydrates.
The duration of these symptoms varies from person to person. Here is how I manage to decrease mine by:
- increasing my water consumption : at least 2 liters of water per day,
- increasing the intake of lipids , for example by adding coconut oil in my coffee in the morning (bulletproof coffee),
- adding salt to food to reduce dehydration and compensate for the loss of water during the first days of the diet,
- increasing the amount of olive oil on my salads, etc,
- not skipping meals or snacks and not going more than 3-4 hours without eating,
- eating more foods containing magnesium like avocados or taking extra magnesium,
- avoiding sport and physical activity during this adaptation phase.
Keto stingy: how to follow a ketogenic diet without breaking your wallet?
Another difficulty with this diet appears very quickly: the basic products that are used in the menus are expensive and considerably increase the bill:
This increase in the price of keto diet food is to be qualified over time by reducing the quantities , proteins and especially lipids, allowing satiety to be achieved more quickly.