What is the ketogenic diet?
The ketogenic diet is a form of the low carb diet. In this special diet, you not only eat a small amount of carbohydrates, but also a minimal amount of nutrients. Actually, it is almost a “No Carb Diet”. For this you have to enrich your diet with healthy fats in the ketogenic diet. Only this combination of an extremely low-carbohydrate, but high-fat diet leads to the desired so-called “ketosis” condition, in which the liver attacks the fat pads instead of sugar molecules and converts them into energy.
We will explain to you in more detail how the macronutrients should be divided up. Let’s first take a look at ketosis and – in simple words – clarify what it is and why this state is aimed for in this form of diet.
→ If you want to learn more about the low carb diet, this article is suitable.
When is the Ketogenic Diet suitable?
The condition of ketosis is also called hunger metabolism. It is reached in a diet when the body is only supplied with a small amount of carbohydrates and therefore hardly any sugar. After 24-72 hours, the body’s glucose stores are empty and it must now attack the fat stores in order to continue to supply energy. In ketosis, the liver transforms the fat stores into energy and forms so-called ketone bodies from the fatty acids. The body simply excretes excess ketone bodies. In contrast, the body would create new fat deposits from the excess glucose from carbohydrates. In short: in the ketosis metabolism, fat is converted into energy and excess is excreted, while carbohydrates provide short-term energy and the excess is retained by the body as a fat cushion. Fat is therefore the miracle cure for fat in the keto diet! It is therefore the reduction of carbohydrates that is important and not the reduction of calories.
This type of diet is suitable for all those who want to lose body fat and see quick results on the scales. Once you have reached the state of ketosis, you will not be plagued by feelings of hunger, but will be full of energy. The ketone bodies that are formed lower the hunger hormones and ensure that you feel satiated for a long time. This is also how you notice that your body has switched from sugar metabolism to ketosis – hunger is suddenly gone. This usually happens after a few days. The ketone bodies, as an alternative fuel to sugar, also have an anti-inflammatory effect and increase concentration and energy.
A ketogenic diet is often preferred by athletes. Especially in the ketogenic phases they often achieve top performances. As the blood sugar level in the ketose remains constant, there is no loss of performance. With the help of ketogenic nutrition, you as an athlete can reduce weight without losing muscle at the same time. Athletes follow a diet called anabolic diet. In this diet, ketogenic days with high fat intake alternate with so-called feasting days. The key words here are “No Carb” and “Refeed Day”. You will learn more about this in the last section.
When is the ketogenic diet recommended?
The keto diet is not only recommended for people who want to lose weight, but also has a general positive effect on health. It also reduces the risk of cancer, Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease due to the anti-inflammatory properties of ketone bodies. Many inflammations that go unnoticed by us in the body increase the risk of such diseases. In addition, a keto diet has a positive effect on lowering blood pressure and improves cardiovascular disease. Ketosis has also been considered a natural therapy against epilepsy for some time. A ketogenic diet is recommended especially for children suffering from epilepsy. Studies show that a long-term and consistent change in diet can significantly reduce the number of epileptic seizures in children. While the beneficial effects of ketogenic nutrition have been proven, it is not 100% certain what the actual cause is. Even studies have so far only yielded hypotheses.
How are macronutrients distributed?
Many diets promote a particularly low-fat diet. With the ketogenic diet, however, you have to consume fats in order to lose fat. If you recall the process of ketosis, it naturally makes sense. Fat is the most important source of energy in this type of diet. You must always consume enough healthy fats to cover all your energy needs. The most important point in a ketogenic diet is therefore the right composition of macronutrients. It is essential that you eat only a few carbohydrates. The amount of carbohydrates you can eat depends on age, sex, height and weight. Also, whether you do sports or not, or whether you are under a lot of stress, has an influence on the amount of carbohydrates. If you suffer from Hashimoto’s thyroid disease, this must also be taken into account. In general, especially if you have a pre-existing condition, you must always discuss a diet with your doctor. In general, however, it is recommended to start with 30 grams of carbohydrates per day at the beginning of the change of diet.
Too much protein can even prevent the formation of ketone bodies, so you must be careful not to eat too much protein.
What are No Carb and Refeed Days?
The anabolic diet alternates between No Carb Days and Refeed Days. On No Carb days, as with the ketogenic diet, carbohydrates are extremely reduced and instead mainly healthy fats are consumed. Up to 60 percent of the food should then consist of fat and up to 35 percent of protein. This first phase lasts about six days and is then replaced by phase 2, the Refeed Days. On one or two days, the nutritional plan is completely changed and on these gourmet days, meals consisting of 60 percent carbohydrates are consumed. The Refeed Days are also called Loading Days or Cheat Days. They are recommended to replenish the glucose store, thereby stimulating and boosting the metabolism and preventing muscle breakdown.
If you have just started with Keto, an anabolic diet with No Carb and Refeed Days is not recommended. It would take far too long to bring your body back to the ketosis state.