Ketogenic diet: How it works and what are its benefits

In 1979 the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) proclaimed 16th October of each year as ‘World Food Day’. The objective is to create awareness in the peoples of the world about the world food problem and strengthen solidarity in the fight against hunger, malnutrition and poverty of the people.

Currently there are several points related to food that need to be worked on and emphasized. Some of them are: training strategies, education and public policies to help improve not only access but also the quality of the food consumed by the population.

To feed ourselves is to eat food to get the necessary nutrients that give us the energy we need to achieve balanced development. According to the WHO “having a healthy diet throughout life helps prevent malnutrition in all its forms, as well as different non-communicable diseases and disorders.”

ketogenic diet

A healthy diet must be varied and balanced and must respond to the characteristics of each person (age, sex, lifestyle, physical activity) and must always respect the socio-cultural context, tastes and preferences, as well as the availability of food of each place and the economic possibilities of each person.

In recent years the ketogenic diet has become very fashionable, which was widely consumed by several celebrities to quickly lose weight and thus lose those extra “pounds”. But what is this diet really about, how does it work, and what are its benefits. Here are all the details.

What is ketogenic diet

The keto or ketogenic diet has become very popular today, but in medicine it has been used for almost 100 years to treat, for example, drug-resistant epilepsy, especially in children.

How does ketogenic diet work?

Carbohydrates are restricted to the maximum and indicated predominant protein and fat consumption, for example, meats, eggs, cheese, fish, oil, avocado, butter etc.

Most of our cells use glucose from carbohydrates for energy. When this glucose or sugar is not available, our body needs to find another source of energy and enters what we call “ketosis” to produce “ketone bodies” that will be responsible for supplying energy.

benefits of keto diet

What are the benefits of keto diet?

Keto Diet is being used with very good results to treat children with epilepsy, and benefits have been raised for other disorders such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and autism. But in the latter, more studies are needed to support these recommendations.

What are the contraindications?

In the case of patients with kidney disease, great care must be taken because this type of diet could worsen their condition. On the other hand, the question is that it is a diet that is unbalanced with respect to the dietary guidelines for the population because many proteins, fats and few vegetables and fruits are consumed.

If we talk specifically about using it to lose weight, the scientific evidence so far shows faster weight loss, compared to people who follow a low-fat diet. But we know that when we lose weight fast we do so at the expense of muscle and bone and not fat.

In addition, there is still no long-term research showing how it impacts blood cholesterol levels and diabetes.

What foods to boost and which ones to eliminate on the keto diet

On a ketogenic diet, the ratio of nutrients is as follows:

Less than 10% carbohydrates

The amount in grams of carbohydrates eaten in a day is minimal because:

  • Cereals and derivatives are completely eliminated, regardless of whether they contain gluten or not, as well as legumes.
  • Most fruits are stopped. Only avocado and coconut (which have a lot of fat and almost no carbohydrates), olives and red fruits such as blueberries are accepted.
  • Vegetables are also conspicuous by their absence. Only the lamb’s lettuce is allowed, and some crucifers such as broccoli and cabbage.
  • Tubers like potatoes are not eaten.

60-70% fat

In the ketogenic diet, fats star in the diet:

  1. There is a high content in foods of animal origin: meat, fish, egg, shellfish, whole milk or cheese.
  2. Also high-fat vegetables: olive oil, nuts, seeds, peanut or sesame butter.

If well advised, heart-healthy fats should take precedence. Therefore, there would be no sausages, bacon…

20-30% protein

  • Foods of animal origin such as fish, meat, eggs, shellfish or milk already provide a good amount of protein.
  • It should be noted that on the keto diet sweets and alcohol are completely eliminated. Only pure chocolate is allowed.

    Is it effective?

    According to the scientific evidence we have, we can say that it can be effective to treat certain conditions and accelerate weight loss in the short term, always under the strict monitoring of a professional.

    However, it is difficult to sustain over time and “diets” that promote rapid weight loss. They tend to have a rebound effect in many people with all the physical and psychological consequences that this causes, in addition to increasing the desire to eat and looking for precisely those foods that we are restricting.

    It is not a diet for you to start without the indication or follow-up of a professional, because it was recommended by a friend or you read that it worked for an influencer. Having the appropriate information, each one is free to make the decisions that they consider most appropriate.

    In a diet as specific as ketogenic, it is extremely important to keep a medical record and be accompanied by a specialist, since spending more than three months in ketosis or following the diet in the wrong way can lead to a health risk.

    When ketosis has lasted longer than indicated, the body can convert ketosis into ketoacidosis, generating acidification in the blood that can even cause a diabetic coma.