Does the keto diet help you lose weight?
The ketogenic diet has been popular for a few years. However, this type of diet has long been used to treat diseases such as epilepsy.
What are the characteristics of the keto diet and what are its benefits? In this article, find out everything you need to know about the ketogenic diet.
Ketogenic diet, what is it?
The ketogenic diet has been a particularly high-fat diet in recent years. However, it has been used for nearly a hundred years to treat some diseases, including epilepsy.
This diet aims to significantly reduce carbohydrate consumption in favor of fat to induce a state of ketosis. Besides significant weight loss, it is said to have many health benefits.
Characteristics of the ketogenic diet
Here are the different characteristics that make up the ketogenic diet:
too high consumption of fats (75% of the intake);
Eat protein unchanged
a significant decrease in carbohydrate intake;
causes unpleasant symptoms in the first few weeks (ketogenic flu);
rapid weight loss
A state of ketosis will have many health benefits (increased energy, protection against certain diseases, etc.).
The main principles of the ketogenic diet
The ketogenic or keto diet was introduced in the 1920s and was originally used with children with epilepsy to reduce seizures.
This diet demonstrated for the first time the effects of anticonvulsants in patients with epilepsy. After that, the keto diet has gained popularity in recent years as a quick way to lose weight.
The ketogenic diet is also used to improve symptoms of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
How does the keto diet work?
The ketogenic diet for weight loss is characterized by the consumption of:
50g of carbs max per day. This represents about 5% of the total calories consumed during the day. A normal diet usually provides between 45-65% of our calories in the form of carbohydrates.
So this diet perfectly reflects our traditional food pyramid and its main principles.
How does the keto diet cause weight loss?
Normally, the body gets its energy from carbohydrates consumed during the day which are essential for the proper functioning of the body.
In a ketogenic diet, carbohydrates are very limited, and the body begins to rely on its reserves of carbohydrates stored at the level of the muscles and liver called "glycogen" reserves.
Since each gram of glycogen is bound to 3-4 grams of water in the body, the most significant weight loss at the start of a ketogenic diet is largely water loss.
When glycogen stores are depleted, the body naturally begins to use fat or fat for energy.
However, when the body uses fat in the absence of carbohydrates, it produces waste products called ketone bodies. After that, ketone bodies begin to accumulate in the blood and their smell, like that of nail polish, becomes noticeable on the breath.
This is the main indication that the body is in a state of 'ketosis'. It usually takes between 2 to 4 weeks to reach this state. You can check your 'ketosis' status by purchasing urine test strips from pharmacies.
This state of 'ketosis' leads to a noticeable decrease in appetite, which contributes to a reduction in the amount of food consumed. This condition can also lead to nausea and fatigue.
Although this diet does not focus on counting calories, those who follow it take in fewer calories because they are not hungry and this leads to weight loss.
The duration of the ketogenic diet
There is no time limit for the ketogenic diet for weight loss. It's more of a lifestyle than a time-limited diet.
When the ketogenic diet is applied in the therapeutic field, its duration is variable from a few weeks to several years depending on the expected results.
Foods allowed on the ketogenic diet
Foods allowed in large amounts on the ketogenic diet are:
Sea fruit ;
Lemon juice ;
Low-carb vegetables (spinach, lettuce, kale, etc.);
Hard cheese (100 grams per day).
The foods that are allowed, but in moderation are:
full fat yogurt
vegetables rich in carbohydrates (except for carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, peas and corn);
Coffee without sugar.
Since a large amount of fat is eaten every day, it is important to be aware of the type of fat consumed. It is recommended to limit the consumption of omega-6 fatty acids, which have a pro-inflammatory effect.
The main sources of omega-6 are soybean oil, corn, safflower, grape seed, sunflower and wheat. Therefore, it is necessary to limit the consumption of salad dressings, vinegar and mayonnaise made with these oils.
It is recommended to eat monounsaturated fats (olive oil, avocado, nuts) and saturated fats (fatty cuts of meat and high-fat dairy products).
It is recommended to use coconut oil because it contains fats that are easily converted into ketones.
Finally, consuming omega-3s found in oily fish, rapeseed, flaxseed oil, nuts, or even chia, flax or hemp seeds should be sufficient.
Foods Banned In The Ketogenic Diet
The ketogenic diet is relatively restrictive, with many foods off-limits because they prevent the body from maintaining itself in a state of ketosis. We quote:
fruits (except berries);
sweet vegetables (beets, corn, carrots, etc.);
soft cheese paste
Soft drinks ;
Honey, jams and syrups.
Fruit and vegetable juices
Milk or yogurt made from vegetable milk (soybean, almond, etc.);
Sweet fruit compote.
Typical ketogenic diet menu for a day
What do we eat on a ketogenic diet?
Omelet with 2 eggs and ½ cup of spinach and mushrooms
100gm rhubarb compote
Roast beef (150 g)
Green salad (100 g) and shredded red cabbage (50 g)
5 black olives
Vinegar (2 to 3 tablespoons)
Snack: Cucumber (50 g) and Gouda cheese (40 g)
salmon (200 g)
Asparagus (100 g)
green salad (50 g)
Vinegar (1 to 2 tablespoons)
hard cheese (40 g)
1/4 cup almonds
Advantages and disadvantages of the ketogenic diet
Pros of the ketogenic diet
Here are the benefits of following the keto diet:
No calorie restriction
a good supply of high-quality fats and proteins;
rapid weight loss
Possible positive effect on blood lipid levels.
Disadvantages of the keto diet
However, there are downsides to the ketogenic diet, including:
unpleasant side effects in the first weeks (ketogenic flu);
Little food variety
No deviation is allowed
difficult to follow;
It interferes with a satisfactory social life.
Recommendations and precautions to be taken
What are the risks of the keto diet?
During the first weeks, very unpleasant effects can occur. Talking about the ketogenic flu, it is a transitional period that almost systematically accompanies the passage of the body into a state of ketosis.
Be warned, some side effects seem to persist even after the transition period such as:
hypoglycemia (low blood sugar);
Increased risk of developing urolithiasis or kidney stones.
Fiber and vitamin supplements are recommended when following this diet, possibly due to the low content of fruits, legumes and whole grain products which are very good sources of fiber and micronutrients.
What are the therapeutic indications for a ketogenic diet?
In addition to losing weight, the ketogenic diet is used in the treatment of various diseases:
Inflammatory diseases, etc.
It is for this reason that it was originally created in the 1920s. In the therapeutic setting, interest in the ketogenic diet has become well established.
Is it a diet compatible with bodybuilding and sports?
The keto diet is perfectly compatible with exercise. Some studies even show the benefits of a ketogenic diet that will allow for better performance and reduce recovery time that will facilitate effort.
In recent years, this diet has been very popular in the world of sports.
How not to regain weight?
The ketogenic diet is more of a lifestyle than a time-limited diet. So it's not supposed to be abandoned after a few months.
However, due to the very significant limitations that the ketogenic diet generates, weight regain appears inevitable if it is discontinued.
To avoid the excessive yo-yo effect, it may seem beneficial to be accompanied by a dietitian who can help gradually reintroduce carbohydrates into the diet without severe consequences.
Few characters to go further
Because the ketogenic diet is so high in fat, there are still many concerns about its potential negative impact on cardiovascular disease risk.
According to a recent 2013 study, a ketogenic diet not only leads to greater weight loss than a low-fat diet, but will also have a positive effect on:
blood pressure ;
HDL (good cholesterol) levels;
Triglycerides in the blood.
The ketogenic diet has also been shown to increase levels of bad cholesterol (LDL). In fact, saturated fats are not as harmful as we think.
This new data remains current, but it still needs to be taken into account.
When it comes to losing weight, the ketogenic diet has been shown to be more effective than the low-fat diet. In fact, many studies have compared low-fat or high-protein, high-carbohydrate diets with the ketogenic diet.
The results show that in the short term (one year or less), the ketogenic diet is most effective for weight loss. However, very few studies have evaluated the long-term effects of this diet.
A dietitian's opinion on the ketogenic diet
The ketogenic diet is a diet that does not respect the basic rules of a balanced diet. It excludes many food groups and seems to forget the idea of fun.
Withdrawing from grain products, legumes, and fruits can lead to deficiencies, particularly in fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants, which play many roles in health.
However, it is difficult to deny the proven positive health effects that this diet appears to have. If the ketogenic diet is difficult to recommend at the moment due to its highly restrictive nature, the numerous ongoing studies will make it possible to see it more clearly in the coming years.