The ketogenic diet concept is becoming increasingly popular among those who are fans of low carb diets. The ketogenic diets are high in fat and protein and low in carbohydrates and have been in existence for as much as 90 years. The name of the diet comes from the term “ketosis”, which is said to have similar effects to fasting.
What is ketosis?
Ketosis is the process of burning fat for energy. The process is activated when the body doesn't have enough glucose available to use as energy and insulin levels are low, so ketones produced by the liver from fatty acids are released in the bloodstream and are being used as energy.
Keto diet requirements
While ketogenic diets are low carb diets, not every low carb diet out there is necessarily ketogenic. Generally, in ketogenic diets, about 65% of the total daily calorie intake come from fat, 30% from protein and about 5% from carbohydrates. While diets like Atkins start out as ketogenic, as carbohydrates are added back in the diet in the later stages, the ketosis process is diminished, so a more accurate statement is stating the degree to which a diet is ketogenic.
Ketogenic diet benefits
Ketogenic diets are popular for a number of reasons. One of the main benefits of this low carb diet is that dieters don't tend to feel hungry since foods high in fat tend to be quite filling even in small amounts and they can even improve energy levels. There were also a number of studies that have shown that these diets can be helpful not only for promoting weight loss, but can also be helpful in improving glycemic control in diabetic patients and even in reducing epileptic seizures. More recent studies suggest that the benefits might also include lower blood pressure and triglyceride levels and improved cholesterol levels.
Foods allowed in the ketogenic diet and foods that should be avoided
Breads, rice, pasta, wheat or sauces containing sugar should be eliminated completely as they are sources of carbohydrates. While the diet requires a high amount of fat, the type of fat included in the diet is very important. Using good quality sources of protein and fats is paramount. Meats like beef, lamb, veal, goat, pork, poultry and fish, eggs and cheese, preferably organic, are generally considered okay, while processed meats should be excluded. Coconut butter and vegetable oils are also allowed. Nuts like macadamias, pecans, almonds and walnuts are okay in small amounts, but peanuts should be avoided.
When it comes to fruits and vegetables, leafy green vegetables such as kale, cabbage and Brussels sprouts are allowed in moderation, however, sugary vegetables like peppers, onions and tomatoes, and starchy vegetables like potatoes should be avoided. Fruits with a small carb content such as forest fruits are also permitted in moderation. Fresh herbs and spices are also allowed.
When it comes to sweets, chocolate is permitted, but in small quantities. Opt for small amounts of chocolate with 85-90% cocoa content.