What is a ketogenic diet(keto)?
The ketogenic diet in a nutshell is a high fat, low carbohydrate and moderate protein-based diet. The goal of this diet is to enter into state of ketosis where your body burns fatty acids and ketones for energy instead of glucose (sugar) from carbohydrates. To enter into the state of ketosis your ketones within the blood are said to be 0.5-3.0 millimoles per litre of blood.
What happens when I enter into state of ketosis?
When you enter into the state of ketosis, the hormone glucagon stops the production of sugar within your body. This forces the glucose (sugars) within muscles to be used up and eliminated so your body can begin to use ketones as your primary energy source. Your brain will begin to use ketones and your muscles will begin to use free fatty acids. As a result of this biological change, the ketogenic diet has been well researched for its medical benefits too. You can check out more details on these here.
However, you need to remember that after entering into the state of ketosis, your body may become insulin sensitive. The reason being is that your body will no longer be used to processing insulin produced from carbohydrates therefore, when you wish to go back to eating carbohydrates you are better gradually re-introducing them back into your diet so your body can readjust again. If you revert back too quickly, you may experience stomach bloating and cramps, diarrhoea and constipation.
The keto diet macros
The traditional macronutrient intake comprises of 90% of fats, 6-9% of protein and 0-4% of carbohydrates. However, modern ratio has been amended to 65-85% of fats, 15-35% of protein and 0-10% carbohydrates (Norton & Baker, 2018). To make sure you are doing this correctly you should be consuming no more than 50 grams of carbohydrates, 1-1.5g of protein per 1kg of body weight and remaining calories to come from fats. You need to ensure your protein consumption is also low or moderately low as protein can be converted into glucose (sugar) within the body during digestion meaning you would be unable to enter into the state of ketosis. If your goal is weight loss, you can see here if the ketogenic diet is superior for weight loss compared to any other diet.
Carbohydrates for keto diet
As stated above, 0-10% of your diet should comprise of carbohydrates, or no more than 50g per day. It is said that the fibrous carbohydrates from vegetables may be best as these will slow down the digestion thanks to fibre so you may feel fuller. Recommended keto vegetable sources include;
- all leafy greens and lettuce
- Brussels sprouts
Protein for Keto diet
As discussed previously, 15-35% of your diet should comprise of proteins, but no more than 1-1.5g per 1kg of body weight (PLEASE CHECK OUT OUR MACRO NUTRIENT CALCULATOR). For a ketogenic diet, its best the protein sources come from;
- fatty cuts of meat and fish (sardines, mackerel)
- nuts & seeds like hemp seeds and pecans.
Vegetarian or vegan sources that are low in carbohydrates can be difficult to find so some may need to rely on a plant-based protein powder which isn’t very ideal because the plant based protein shakes enter our body and are distributed around the body rather quickly so you may struggle to feel satiated.
Fats for Keto diet
Your ketogenic diet should comprise of 60-90% of fats as it’s a high-fat diet. When making your food choices, you should consider the type and quality of that food. The majority of fats should come from saturated and monounsaturated, while polyunsaturated fats should be eaten occasionally.
Saturated fats are normally hard at room temperature and include sources like; beef, lamb, dairy products, margarine, butter, cocoa butter, coconut oil and palm oil.
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are unsaturated fats meaning these have not been saturated in hydrogen atoms and are also liquid at room temperature. Monounsaturated fat sources include; olive oil, peanut oils, avocado and nuts like hazelnuts and cashews. Polyunsaturated fat sources include; fish, seaweed, vegetable oils, nuts like walnuts and brazil nuts. MCT oils are an excellent source of fat based on the metabolic characteristics, when you include it within your meals it can induce and maintain ketosis effectively (Norton & Baker, 2019).
Overall, recommended keto fat sources include;
- coconut oils
- MCT oil
- Cacao butter
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Avocado oil
- Coconut butter
- olives, and nuts.
It’s best to avoid; soybean oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, peanut oil, canola oil, grape seed oil, safflower oil and sunflower oil.
Benefits and negatives of a keto diet
In conclusion, the ketogenic diet is great for many things but it has its benefits and negatives. Now, you know how to enter the state of ketosis and the kind of foods that you should be consuming. Let e know in the comments below what you enjoyed about this article! I’d love to hear your feedback!
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If you are a beginner, I strongly suggest having a look at the cookbook below. It has plenty of ketogenic recipes that will help you jump-start your keto diet!
This one is my personal favourite!
Department of Human Sciences, The Ohio State University, 305 Annie and John Glenn Avenue, Columbus, OH. Waterford Institute of Technology, Cork Road, Ireland.Department of Radiology and the Department of Internal Medicine – Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, The Ohio State University 410 W 10th Avenue, Columbus, OH (2019) Extended Ketogenic Diet and Physical Training Intervention in Military Personnel. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30877806 Accessed on 03/07/2019.
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Norton, L. (2019). Ketogenic Diets: What the Science Says. [online] YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHXP04ipDx8 [Accessed 26 May 2019].
Norton, L. and Baker, P. (2019). Fat loss forever. 1st ed