Ketogenic diet

In one of the last articles we looked at low-carbohydrate diets. An extreme form of these diets is the so-called ketogenic diet. It is not only extreme in the sense of its implementation, but also in the sense of its effects, for which reason it is considered by many to be a miracle cure for losing weight quickly. In this article you will learn how ketogenic diets differ from low carb diets in terms of execution and their effect.

Low carb or no carb?

There is no exact definition for the term low carb due to the large number of different concepts. However, it is generally understood to mean diets in which the proportion of carbohydrates in the total energy intake is around 5-30%. In comparison: in a normal, balanced diet, about 50% of the total energy is consumed via carbohydrates. The ketogenic diet, sometimes also called the "no carb diet", is an extreme form of the low carb diet. It is characterised by an extremely low intake of carbohydrates, which ultimately leads to a change in the body's metabolism to so-called ketosis. This means that the body, since it can no longer access the usual energy source of carbohydrates, switches to fat as an energy source. When the fatty acids are metabolised, the so-called ketone bodies are produced, which give the diet its name. These are primarily used to maintain brain performance and can even be detected in urine.  

Structure of the ketogenic diet

Basically, our diet is made up of three main groups: Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats. Due to the fact that in the ketogenic diet the carbohydrate portion is reduced to a minimum, the other components have to increase in comparison. Fat plays a particularly important role in this diet and often amounts to 60% or more of the energy intake. Foods with a high carbohydrate content, such as cereal products, peas, beans, lentils, potatoes and high-sugar fruits, are rarely or never on the menu. Ready meals, spice mixes, alcohol, sweets, soft drinks and fruit juices are also on the red list because they often contain a lot of sugar. A large part of the usual food supply is eliminated. It is therefore even more important to choose protein- and fat-containing foods in a balanced way and to integrate them sensibly into the diet. Permitted foods are, for example, many kinds of meat, fatty fish, dairy products, eggs, nuts, low-carbohydrate, predominantly green vegetables as well as healthy oils. 

Advantages and disadvantages of the ketogenic diet

First things first: if followed consistently, the ketogenic diet can help you lose a lot of weight. It is even said to be far more effective than low-fat diets because of the increased protein content. Calories do not have to be counted within this diet. In addition, positive effects on blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity have been observed, which may contribute to weight loss success. However, as always, there is also a downside. On the one hand, it is an extremely radical form of nutrition. This demands a lot of discipline and stamina from the practitioner. Many people also find it difficult to switch to a low-carbohydrate diet, as it is often accompanied by headaches, insomnia, digestive problems or fatigue. In this case, a gentle introduction via a low carb diet is a good idea. Physical side effects of the ketogenic diet have not been reported so far. However, since it is a really radical change of diet that demands a lot from the metabolism and poses great challenges for the user, it should always be carried out under medical observation to prevent possible deficiency states.

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