What is Keto diet good for?
What is the ketogenic diet?
The keto diet is a nutritional strategy based on the reduction of food carbohydrates, which “obliges” the body to independently produce the glucose necessary for survival and to increase the energy consumption of the fats contained in the adipose tissue.
Keto diet means “diet that produces ketone bodies” (a metabolic residue of energy production).
Regularly produced in minimal quantities and easily disposable with urine and lung ventilation, in the ketogenic diet the ketone bodies reach a level higher than the normal condition. The unwanted excess of ketone bodies, responsible for the tendency to lower blood pH, is called ketosis.
Training also affects, positively or negatively (depending on the case), the condition of ketoacidosis.
The presence of ketone bodies in the blood has various effects on the body; some are considered useful in the slimming process, others are of the “collateral” type.
There is no single type of ketogenic diet and all food styles that provide less than necessary calories, carbohydrates, and sometimes proteins are ketogenic; they are certainly low carb and potentially ketogenic, for example, the Atkins diet and LCHF (low carb, high fat).
Some types of ketogenic diet are used in the clinical setting (for example against non-responsive epilepsy, serious obesity-associated with certain metabolic pathologies, etc.), but these are systems mainly exploited in the field of fitness and aesthetic culture.
Characteristics of the keto diet
The keto diet (or ketogenic diet) is a nutritional scheme:
- Low in calories (low-calorie diet)
- Low percentage and absolute carbohydrate content (low carb diet)
- High in protein content, although the absolute quantity (in grams) is often more than average – remember that neoglucogenetic amino acids can be used by the liver to produce glucose
- High content of lipids.
What to eat in the ketogenic diet?
The most important aspect to reaching the state of ketosis is to eat foods that do not contain carbohydrates, limit those that make few, and avoid foods that are rich in them.
The recommended foods are:
- Meat, fishery products, and eggs – the basic group of foods
- Cheeses – The fundamental group of foods
- Fats and seasoning oils – V fundamental group of foods
- Vegetables – VI and VII fundamental group of foods.
The foods not recommended instead, are:
- Cereals, potatoes and derivatives – III fundamental group of foods
- Legumes – IV fundamental group of foods
- Fruits – VI and VII fundamental group of foods
- Sweet drinks, various sweets, beer, etc.
In general, it is recommended to maintain a carbohydrate intake of less than or equal to 50 g / day, ideally organized in 3 portions with 20 g each.
A rather strict guideline for a correct ketogenic diet provides for energy distribution of:
- 10% from carbohydrates
- 15-25% of proteins (not forgetting that proteins, also containing glucogenic amino acids, participate in supporting the blood glucose level)
- 70% or more from fat.
How to understand that you are in ketosis?
To identify a possible state of ketosis it is possible to carry out tests of urine (with special strips for urine), blood (blood ketone meters), or breath (analyzer of ketones in the breath). However, you can also rely on certain “telltale” symptoms, which require no testing:
- Dry mouth and feeling thirsty
- Increased diuresis (for the filtration of acetoacetate)
- Acetonic breath or sweat (due to the presence of acetone) that escapes through our breath
- Reduction of appetite
How does the ketogenic diet work?
The functioning mechanism of the ketogenic diet is based on the reduction of calories and food carbohydrates which, in association with a correct level of proteins and a high percentage of fat, should improve lipolysis and cellular lipid oxidation, therefore total consumption of fats optimizing weight loss.
The production of ketone bodies, which must be absolutely controlled, has the function of moderating the appetite stimulus – for their anorectic effect.
Notes on energy production
Cellular energy production occurs thanks to the metabolization of some substrates, especially glucose and fatty acids.
Mostly, this process begins in the cytoplasm (anaerobic glycolysis – without oxygen) and ends in the mitochondria (Krebs cycle – with oxygen – and ATP refill).
Note: muscle cells are also capable of oxidizing good amounts of branched-chain amino acids. However, we must underline two fundamental aspects :
Some tissues, such as the nervous one, function “almost” exclusively on glucose
The correct cellular use of fatty acids is subject to the presence of glucose which, if deficient, is produced by the liver by neoglucogenesis (starting from substrates such as glucogenic amino acids and glycerol).
Note: Neoglucogenesis alone cannot definitively satisfy the metabolic demands of the whole organism in the long term.
We must consider carbohydrates as essential nutrients and we recommend a minimum intake of 180 g / day (the minimum quantity to guarantee the full functionality of the central nervous system).
Application of the ketogenic diet
We can use this food strategy mainly in three contexts (very different from each other):
- Weight loss (preferably under medical supervision)
- Food therapy of certain metabolic pathologies such as chronic hyperglycaemia, hypertriglyceridaemia (only under medical supervision),
- high blood pressure and metabolic syndrome (never in the presence of pathologies or suffering of liver and/or kidneys)
- Reduction of symptoms associated with childhood epilepsy (only when the subject does not respond to drug therapy and only under medical supervision).
What is keto diet good for?
The ketogenic diet can facilitate weight loss thanks to:
- Reduction of total calories
- Maintaining constant blood sugar and insulin levels
- Increased fat consumption for energy purposes
- Increased global calorie expenditure due to increased specific dynamic action and “metabolic work”
- It has an anorectic effect
- It can be useful in countering the symptoms of epilepsy that does not respond to drugs, especially in children.
I believe that this type of diet is more a remedy for certain ailments rather than a lifestyle.
Although there are advantages to using this type of diet, I would advise anyone to avoid this diet if you haven’t consulted a doctor first.
Being a very unbalanced diet, it is not necessarily suitable for everyone, and it is possible that the disadvantages far outweigh the advantages.
We can apply the same principle in the intermittent fasting diet since ketone bodies act as a super fuel for the body.
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