Keto Diet All About: How It Works, Benefits and Risks

origin of keto diet

Health and Fitness Desk, Delhi Magazine: The ketogenic diet originated in the 1920s. At the time, doctors were actively looking for a solution to relieve children with severe seizure disorders . After having had mixed results on a treatment based on fasting, they decide to carry out several studies to analyze the consequences of a ketogenic diet. Thus, from year to year, scientists carry out many conclusive studies. In 1998 in particular, a study was conducted among 51 children with an average of 230 monthly attacks. This revealed very positive and encouraging results. Almost half of the children could control more than 90% of their seizures and almost 40% had control over 50 to 90% of their seizures .During the same year, a study was conducted on children aged between 1 and 16 years who were subject to more than 400 seizures per month. After a year on the keto diet, 7% of them had no seizures and almost 30% of the subjects were able to reduce their frequency by almost 90%. 

What is keto diet

This diet is still used today to help reduce the frequency and control epileptic seizures in children. But its reputation has been created for a few years and it is used for many other reasons that we will describe below.

Ketogenic diet – what is it

The ketogenic diet, also referred to as the ketogenic diet or LCHF (Low Carb High Fat), is a nutrition based diet plan in which you need to eat a lot of fat and meat. Even vegetables and fruits are limited in favor of animal products. On such a diet, the body receives energy from fats, but not from carbohydrates. The ketogenic diet is intended to lead to ketosis, a state in which the body draws energy from fats, not sugars. This can cause the body to start burning fats, resulting in weight reduction.

The vegetarian ketogenic diet, of course, does not allow eating meat, but it assumes that you eat large amounts of products that provide protein. It should be a well-absorbed protein.

What to eat on Keto Diet ( Food Items You Can Allowed to Eat Durig Keto Diet

It is recommended to consume foods containing monounsaturated fat, as found in olive oil, nuts or avocado, peanut butter and saturated fat as in high fat meats and dairy products . Coconut oil is also highly recommended in a ketogenic diet.

In moderation, you can consume milk, natural yogurts, wine, coffee without sugar.

Foods allowed in the ketogenic diet (keto foods)t are as following:

  • Vegetal oils
  • Butter
  • Oilseeds
  • Meats
  • Fish;
  • Eggs
  • Tofu and soy
  • Unsweetened green vegetables
  • Citrus
  • Berries
  • Dairy products.

What not to Eat on Keto Diet (Foods are not allowed on Keto Diet plan)

And what should you avoid ? What to avoid on the keto diet are all carbohydrate-rich foods, both sugar-rich and starch-rich foods. These foods contain far more than the daily amount of carbs you can eat to put yourself into a ketogenic state .

Sugars! And with that , carbohydrates

  • The bread
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Potatoes
  • Fruits with lots of fruit sugars
  • Juice
  • Soft drinks
  • Alcohol
  • Candy
  • Biscuit
  • Carbohydrate-rich vegetables such as carrots, corn, parsnips,  sweet potatoes, beets, spaghetti squash or peas
  • Sugar
  • Grains
  • Legumes
  • Fresh and soft cheeses
  • Compotes
  • Honey, maple syrup or jam.

On average, it takes three days to activate this alternative energy pathway by allowing the body to cover its energy needs through ketone bodies.

It is a restrictive diet, usually used in the treatment of a narrow group of diseases, such as drug-resistant epilepsy. What are the principles of the ketogenic diet? Which foods can you eat there and which should you avoid?

The ketogenic diet is an extreme variation of low-carbohydrate eating strategies. It assumes the consumption of this macronutrient at the level of 10 percent. daily energy value or up to 50 g per day. With such consumption of carbohydrates, metabolic changes occur in the body, which are observed in the state of starvation, i.e. ketosis.

Popularity of Keto Diet

The ketogenic diet has been gaining popularity for several years and is used both in serious neurological diseases and more and more often as an alternative model of nutrition in people with excessive body weight. Its modern history dates back over 100 years. It was first described by William Bating in 1863 in the pamphlet “Letters to Obesity”.

Robert Atkins played a huge role in popularizing the ketogenic diet, i.e. high-fat diet . In the 70s of the last century, he began to strongly promote this alternative way of eating, proposing it as a remedy for most civilization diseases, including, above all, overweight and obesity. In his version, the keto diet consists of several phases. In the first, which lasts 2 weeks, the amount of carbohydrates is limited to 30 g / day. This ingredient comes only with non-starchy vegetables. Over time, Atkins suggests increasing sugar intake by about 10 g per week, after the metabolism has adapted to use the new energy source. After achieving a satisfactory body weight, the intake of this ingredient is set at a level that allows you to maintain the reduction effects.

Keto Diet Stategy

If we take a closer look at other known nutritional strategies, in some variations they also have the characteristics of a very low-carb or low-carb diet, such as the paleo diet or the power protein diet. So there are several types of diets that are characterized by low or very low sugar intake. However, there are significant differences in their recommendations and proposed levels of carbohydrate consumption.

Changing the diet to high-fat products, such as: fatty meat and fish, eggs, full-fat dairy products, butter, cream or nuts, makes the body draw energy from fat accumulated in the tissues. The ketogenic diet is recommended for people who want to lose weight. In addition, it will also work well in children suffering from drug-resistant epilepsy. Fat diet also helps patients with Rett-Doose syndrome, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, amyotrophic lateral and tuberous sclerosis

Ketosis is defined as the forced synthesis of ketone bodies such as acetone, beta-hydroxybutyric acid or acetoacetic acid. Under certain metabolic conditions, their production is increased. Ketosis can be a normal state of the body or a symptom of insulin deficiency in people with diabetes. It is also useful in the treatment and alleviation of epileptic seizures in children.

How to Start the ketogenic Diet at Home

The ketogenic diet or keto diet, also known as Keto diet, consists of a drastic reduction of carbohydrates in the diet, consuming 20 to 50 g per day, representing 10 to 15% of total daily calories. This amount will depend on the state of health, the duration of the diet, personal goals and the weight you want to achieve.

To compensate for this reduction, the consumption of foods rich in fats such as avocado, coconut, seeds, olive oil, nuts and almonds should be increased. In addition to this, the amount of protein should also be increased to make up 20% of the diet, making it necessary to eat meat, chicken or fish at lunch and dinner, and include eggs and cheese in snacks.

Another diet that is similar to the ketogenic diet is the low-carb diet , the main difference being that the ketogenic diet consumes more fat to make up for the lack of carbohydrates.

Characteristics of the ketogenic diet

Here are the different characteristics that make up the ketogenic diet:

  • A very high consumption of lipids (75% of intake).
  • Unchanged protein intake.
  • A considerable reduction in carbohydrate intake.
  • Causes unpleasant symptoms for the first few weeks (ketogenic flu).
  • Rapid weight loss.
  • The state of ketosis would have many health benefits (energy boost, protection against certain pathologies, etc.).

How Keto Diet Works?

To function, the body has three types of food fuels: carbohydrates, fats and proteins. When carbohydrates are very low – as is the case with the ketogenic diet – the liver begins to manufacture ketone bodies from dietary fat or fat stores in the body. The body is said to be in “ketosis”: it turns into a fat “burning” machine. Ketone bodies therefore become the main source of energy for most of our cells. This change occurs on average between two and four days after the adoption of the regime.

Benefits of Keto Diet:

Helps in weight loss.

It takes more work to turn fat into energy than it takes to turn carbohydrates into energy. Because of this, a ketogenic diet can help speed up weight loss. And because the diet is high in protein, it doesn’t leave you hungry like other diets.

Reduce acne

There are several different causes for acne, and one may be related to diet and blood sugar. Eating a diet high in processed and refined carbohydrates can upset gut bacteria and cause more dramatic blood sugar fluctuations, both of which can influence skin health.

May help reduce cancer risk

There has been a lot of research on the ketogenic diet on how it can help prevent or even treat certain types of cancer. One study found that this may be a suitable adjunctive treatment to chemotherapy and radiation in people with cancer. This is due to the fact that it would cause more oxidative stress in cancer cells than in normal cells.

Improves heart health

When the ketogenic diet is followed in a healthy way (which views avocados as a healthy fat rather than pork skins), there is some evidence that the diet can improve heart health by lowering cholesterol. One study found that HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels increased significantly in those following the keto diet. LDL (“bad”) cholesterol dropped significantly.

Potentially reduces seizures

The combination of fat, protein, and carbohydrates is thought to alter the way the body uses energy, resulting in ketosis. Ketosis is an elevated level of ketone bodies in the blood.

Ketosis can lead to a reduction in seizures in people with epilepsy. Specialists don’t yet know how effective this is, although it seems to be more effective in children who have focal seizures.

Main Reason of Adopting Keto Diet

At the heart of much scientific research, the ketogenic diet is attributed today with many advantages and benefits. Some even confirm the interest of this diet for the prevention and treatment of many diseases.

However, scientific research on the subject is incessant. Even if there are many who prove a certain interest in this diet, it should be kept in mind that many studies are still in progress and that the results are therefore not yet 100% reliable. We have therefore concocted a small summary of this research, so that you can know a little more about these benefits!

Reason #1: The Keto Diet for Weight Loss

The effect of the keto diet on weight has been proven through numerous studies on the subject. At least 13 studies have also revealed that the ketogenic diet would be more effective for weight loss than a low-fat diet. Indeed, people who followed this diet would have lost almost an extra kilo for a similar calorie intake as people who followed a low-fat diet. 

The weight loss thanks to the keto diet is explained by several factors:

  • According to several scientific studies , a higher protein intake promotes weight loss because protein allows, among other things, to feel the feeling of satiety more quickly. This is one of the reasons why the keto diet is known to be an appetite suppressant. 
  • The appetite suppressant effect is also due to hormonal changes, caused by this change in diet.
  • Decreased fat storage. This is because excess carbohydrates are stored in the body as fat. However, with a ketogenic diet, carbohydrate intake is minimal and fat is used to provide energy.

However, be careful not to over-consume protein because an excess will turn into carbohydrates and then take you out of your state of ketosis. Also be careful to meet your calorie needs as studies have shown that too much reduction in calories ingested can slow down your metabolism, which makes weight loss more difficult in the long term.

Reason #2: The keto diet as a treatment for diseases

Many studies are conducted to analyze the positive effects of the ketogenic diet on a multitude of diseases. Some, still in progress, are therefore to be taken with hindsight. Here are the different conditions for which the ketogenic diet has been studied or is still being studied as a treatment: 

The keto diet against Type 2 diabetes or prediabetes

The ketogenic diet is not suitable in the context of type 1 diabetes because the type 1 diabetic must continue to eat carbohydrates. Indeed, as he injects himself with continuous doses of insulin, a low consumption of carbohydrates would cause the risk of falling into acute ketoacidosis.

Nevertheless, the ketogenic diet would be beneficial for type 2 diabetics thanks to its effect on blood sugar and weight.

Several studies have shown results that the ketogenic diet can reduce insulin levels. Indeed, a study conducted on people with type 2 diabetes for four months even proved a significant reduction of 16% in blood sugar. It also states that a third of the participants were able to completely stop all their diabetes medications! Another study found that after two weeks on the keto diet, insulin sensitivity improved by 75%.

The keto diet would therefore improve insulin sensitivity and fat loss, improving the health of people with type 2 diabetes or stabilizing the health of people with prediabetes.

It is now established that the LOW GI diet is beneficial for everyone, and particularly for people with diabetes. So to know all the secrets of the low GI diet , treat yourself to our  ebook written in collaboration with a nutritionist dietician  !

Discover more than  175 pages  to learn all about the benefits of this lifestyle, and to treat yourself with more than  40 healthy, gourmet recipes  with a reduced impact on blood sugar.

You will find there:

  • The BABA of nutrition: what are the different nutrients (proteins, carbohydrates, lipids…), how to compose a balanced plate…
  • A focus on the glycemic index and low diet: what is the GI, what are the benefits of a low GI diet, what are the factors of variation of the glycemic index…
  • The glycemic index on the plate, including shopping lists for your daily meals
  •  More than 40 gourmet recipes for all times of the day (breakfast, starters, main courses, dessert, snacks, and even bakery recipes) developed and validated by a low GI nutrition specialist.
  • GI indexes of all foods by category
  • The nutritional values ​​calculated for each recipe and recommendations for adapting them according to your diets (lactose-free, vegetarian, etc.)
  • 2 weeks of low GI menus to inspire you and get you started!

The keto diet for epilepsy

We already explained this in the origin of the ketogenic diet. It is an officially effective treatment recommended by doctors for seizures in children with epilepsy. Currently, this diet is still used and advised to try to reduce seizures.

The keto diet against cancer

Originally, specialists were interested in this diet after several observations. Among other things, it was in 1922 that the scientist Braunstein noted that glucose disappeared from the urine of diabetic patients after being diagnosed with cancer. This disappearance suggested that glucose was recruited to the cancerous areas and consumed there at higher than normal rates. Several studies then led him to think that depriving cancer cells of glucose could harm them and therefore promote healing.  

The keto diet is therefore currently being studied as a treatment for several cancers. Several studies have already been conducted and suggest that a ketogenic diet can help slow tumor growth, even stop growth and even suppress the tumor in the best cases. Scientists are also studying the effect of diet on the sensitivity of tumors to chemotherapy. 

Numerous studies, always conclusive, have been able to report a significant effect on brain tumours, cancers of the prostate, colon, pancreas and lung. 

However, every cancer is different and each has several genetic subtypes. The effectiveness of the ketogenic diet depends not only on the individual but also on the tumor entity and its genotype. It is therefore still unfortunately impossible, at present, to promise that the adoption of a ketogenic diet will be beneficial for the treatment of cancer. However, many studies are ongoing. So far, however, the keto diet is showing promise for fighting several cancers.

The keto diet for Alzheimer’s disease

Many studies are underway and the few results we already have should therefore be taken with a grain of salt. However, according to several studies already carried out, it seems that the ketogenic diet can reduce the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and slow its progression. 

Indeed, according to several studies , the presence of ketone bodies has a neuroprotective impact on the aging of brain cells. Adoption of the diet is also linked to improved cognitive performance in older people with the disease. Improved cognitive outcomes, however, depend on the level and duration of ketosis. 

However, it should also be noted that the application of the ketogenic diet to the elderly raises some concerns. Indeed, these profiles run a risk of malnutrition and are generally very sensitive to such a drastic change in diet. 

The keto diet for the prevention of Parkinson’s disease

Neurodegenerative disease in the same way as Alzheimer’s disease, several studies are currently still in progress to determine the real effects of this diet on individuals affected by this disease. 

Currently, studies show that the diet would help improve the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Indeed, motor and non-motor daily life would have improved. 

In the same way as to fight against Alzheimer’s disease, it must be taken into account that the adoption of a ketogenic diet in the elderly is subject to taking additional precautions.

THE RISKS OF THE KETO DIET ( Disadvantage of Keto)

According to the Harvard Medical Review, the keto diet is not the type of diet to try experimentally. Do not hesitate to talk to qualified people and ask if this diet may be right for you. Indeed, the keto diet consists of abruptly changing your diet. The goal is to imitate fasting. By doing this, the body draws its energy from a source other than the one it naturally thinks of.

Beyond that, the proportions of macronutrients that this diet imposes can lead to risks that it is better to know beforehand. Among them : 

Risk of the keto diet #1: An increase in bad cholesterol (LDL)

According to nearly twenty studies , bad cholesterol increases significantly with the keto diet. It’s not so surprising since the keto diet is high in saturated fat. Be careful, however, because these are closely linked to heart disease.

Keto Diet Risk #2: Nutrient Deficiencies

This diet advises against a good number of foods known to provide essential micronutrients for the proper functioning of the body. Among them, fruits and vegetables but also cereals are greatly limited in the ketogenic diet. Thus, monitoring is necessary to avoid deficiencies of selenium, magnesium, phosphorus and vitamins B and C.

Keto Diet Risk #3: Aggravation of Preexisting Liver Problems

With so much fat to metabolize, the diet could make existing liver problems worse. If you have health concerns, always ask your doctor for advice before starting a ketogenic diet. This is not a change to be taken lightly, the keto diet is very different from a conventional diet.

Keto Diet Risk #4: Kidney Problems

The kidneys help metabolize proteins. However, an increase in protein consumption can overload the kidneys and cause failure. Be sure to consume enough protein, but not too much.

Keto Diet Risk #5: Gut Problems

 The keto diet is low in fibrous foods like grains and legumes. To overcome this potential deficiency, you can consume gluten-free fibers such as psyllium. 

Delhi Magazine Team

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