Things You Need to Know Before Starting the Ketogenic Diet Or Keto Diet


Have you ever heard of the ketogenic diet also called keto diet or « keto diet »?

This diet, derived from the word « ketones » (ketones) and focused on high fat and very low carbohydrate consumption. It has been growing in popularity in recent months, but few really know what it is.

What are the advantages of this mode of eating and, above all, what foods are promoted in the keto diet?

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What is the ketogenic diet?

Ketogenic food, although recently in the spotlight, has been around since the early 1920s. Basically, this strict dietary protocol was developed for particular pathological cases, for example when people had severe epilepsy.

However, today, this type of diet is used for many reasons, such as in therapy for Alzheimer‘s or cancer.

It is also very popular among athletes and to encourage weight loss.

The ketogenic diet is based on a high consumption of fat (lipids), average protein and very low carbohydrates.

In fact, there are many « types » of keto diets, from the strict to the flexible.

How it works?

On average, (the lipid:protein)/carbohydrate ratio is 4:1, i.e. about 80% of the energy consumed comes from fat while 15-20% comes from protein and only less than 10% comes from carbohydrates (even 5% for a strict diet).

Thus, for a diet of 2000 calories per day, 1600 calories should come from fat, 300 to 400 calories from protein and 100 to 200 calories from carbohydrates.

Considering that 1 g of fat is worth 9 calories and 1 g of protein or carbohydrates is worth 4 calories, a person on a ketogenic diet could eat only 25 to 50 g of carbohydrates per day for 75-100 g of protein and 178 g of fat.

Just for comparison, 1 apple contains an average of 20 g of carbohydrates!

The 3 different types of ketogenic diets

  • The classic ketogenic diet: with a very low carbohydrate intake, high protein and fat content.
  • Cyclic ketogenic diet: this variant involves periods of carbohydrate recharge, with for example 5 ketogenic days followed by 2 days of carbohydrate recharge.
  • Targeted ketogen: allows you to add carbohydrates around workouts.

Ketogenic diet: which foods are allowed?

Following a diet is much easier when you know what to eat.

The advantage of the ketogenic diet is that you don’t have to limit yourself to sad meals. If you like fish and meat, this diet is for you!

Here are the authorized foods 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 (cashew nuts, almonds, hazelnuts)
  • Vegetables (asparagus, avocado, broccoli, cauliflower, olives)

Banned Foods?

Since carbohydrate intake, especially simple carbohydrates, must be limited, many foods are banned:

  • cereals,
  • pulses
  • and tubers.
  • But also the complex carbohydrates found in fruits and some vegetables.
  • And of course sweet products: candies, sodas, desserts, ready meals, etc.

 Above all, it is important to favour foods high in fat: fats, oleaginous fruits, avocado, coconut…

It is also possible to eat protein (egg, meat…), but some people prefer not to eat it, as Olivia Charlet explains in her book My Ketogenic Programs. According to the author, the consumption of meat and dairy products would be a « major source of toxic » and they would be « pro-inflammatory », due to the presence of antibiotics in the meat, pollutants, heavy metals… Again, this statement is questionable.

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It’s very simple: to anyone who wants a flat stomach and prominent abs! Originally, this type of diet was used to treat people with serious illnesses. Such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, epilepsy, etc.

The ketogenic diet helps to prevent the spread of cancer cells. This way of feeding literally saved the lives of thousands of people. And especially the lives of thousands of children with epilepsy. As a result, the ketogenic diet is very simple to set up.

All you have to remember is:

  • Eating REAL food
  • Limit carbohydrates as much as possible
  • Eat protein and vegetables

Why does a ketogenic diet make you lose weight?

The daily consumption of large quantities of simple sugars leads to a decrease in insulin sensitivity.

Insulin plays a major role in fat storage. Since the body can only store a limited amount of glucose, an excess leads to an increase in fat mass.

So, excluding carbohydrates from your daily diet in favour of high-fat foods lowers your insulin levels and improves your sensitivity to insulin. Thus, your body goes into ketosis and burns fat more efficiently.

Here are the three main reasons why the ketogenic diet leads to weight loss:

  • The ketogenic diet reduces insulin production and controls blood sugar levels .
  • Eating more protein and fat leads to faster and longer-lasting satiety.
  • The satiety caused by a diet rich in protein and fat reduces the daily caloric 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 ghrelin secretion.

Ghrelin is commonly referred to as the « hunger hormone » because it stimulates appetite.

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Sports with a KETO diet

When you exercise, the fuel your body prefers to use is carbohydrates. If it has to go through the fats, it manages to get its energy, but it is much longer, and the power achieved is less important. It’s a bit like you want to go from Montreal to Sherbrooke, but you go through Trois-Rivières, it’s not a winner. This means you have less juice to make fast, high-intensity efforts (e. g. sprints, CrossFit, intervals, etc.).

A diet to be used in moderation

While this diet seems to be good all along, it still attracts some mistrust. Some professionals are concerned, among other things, about the carbohydrate-protein-lipid imbalance it causes. Because ketone products are acidifying. If there are too many of these in the body, they can cause joint problems or acidosis, blood acidification with the effects of nausea, headache and fatigue. Without cereals and with few vegetables, the diet can also lead to deficiencies in fibre and vitamins.

But used over a maximum period of one week, Dr. Raphaël Gruman assures that these imbalances do not have time to be set up. As for the risk of hypoglycemia, he said the body would adapt fairly quickly to the lack of sugar. However, following this diet without the advice of a doctor is not advisable because without a health check-up, any undetected parameters (cholesterol, vitamin deficiency, fragility of the digestive system, etc.) could cause problems with this change in diet.

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Beware of side effects and imbalances

There are many restrictions and the permitted foods are not very varied. In addition, from a social point of view, it is difficult to follow in restaurants or with friends, for example.

But hey. That’s the point!

By definition, the Keto diet is unbalanced. So you should be followed by a doctor and use extra vitamins, calcium and potassium.

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