The keto diet has become very popular because it is a very easy and keto diet is considered effective way to lose weight without going hungry or suffer rebound effect
But do you really know how keto diet works?
Do you know what are benefits and risks of keto diet?
Do you have a good plan to perform the keto diet?
In this article we answer these questions and many more
WHY DOES THE KETO DIET WORK?
For many years, nutritionists have preached that to lose weight you needed to eat fewer calories. Its overwhelming logic was:
Calories stored (or lost) = Calories ingested – Calories consumed
So if we burn the same but eat less we will have to use our reserves and therefore we will lose weight.
Easy … but something fails.
Apart from the fact that eating little is really a torture, many of us have found that with these diets either we do not lose the weight that we wanted or when we left them we recovered it again.
The accumulation of fat in the body is not only a thermodynamic question, it is the result of a metabolic process that has arisen from millions of years of evolution.
To understand what happens we have to do a review of basic biochemistry.
We know that an adult has:
- Glycogen reserves (carbohydrate) that allow you to survive 1 or 2 days maximum.
- Reserves in the form of fat equivalent to more than 100,000 KCal or 50 days of survival.
Curious, is not it?
Let’s now see in more detail what happens when we consume carbohydrates or fat and what this has to do with the keto diet.
METABOLISM OF CARBOHYDRATES
The carbohydrates we eat are processed to its basic molecule, glucose.
Blood glucose levels are always maintained in a very narrow range of 72-145 mg / dl, or about 5 g total for an adult. Higher levels are toxic.
When we eat carbohydrates the body perceives a rise in blood glucose and:
- Burning immediately
- It releases the hormone insulin that tells the body that it has to store the excess glucose inside the cells, in the form of glycogen or fat.
Glucose is metabolized very rapidly in the cytosol of the cell by glycolysis. This process has a low energy efficiency.
In summary: glucose is a very fast but inefficient energy source and we consume all the reserves very quickly. Also glucose allows us to get a peak of energy in times of need but if we use it continuously we need to ingest it constantly and in large quantities.
METABOLISM OF FATS – KETOSIS
Our body has the ability to use fatty acids (fats) as an energy source by beta-oxidation of fats .
Unlike glucose, fatty acids do not degrade in the cell’s cytosol, but in mitochondria or peroxisomes.
Mitochondria are the energy centers of our cells and are so interesting that another day we will tell you how they work.
Fat burning is activated in two cases:
- In periods of fasting
- When we reduce significantly the consumption of carbohydrates and increase the fat.
And it generates ” ketosis ” or “keto”
In short: fats are a slower energy source but much more efficient than carbohydrates. Each gram of carbohydrate gives us 4 KCal while 1 gram of fat gives us 9 KCal ( reference ).
Conclusion : Everything seems to indicate that fats are better food than carbohydrates to use continuously.
But there is a problem: the brain.
KETO Diet AND THE BRAIN
Do you know brain consumes 20% of our body’s energy.
For a long time it was considered that fats were not a good “fuel” and that they can not be used by the brain as energy for two reasons:
- They can not cross the blood-brain barrier.
- Some brain cells do not have mitochondria.
- On the contrary, the brain can consume glucose very well.
This is one of the most used reasons to recommend carbohydrates as the main source of energy.
Now you know that this is only half true. An even better food for the brain has been discovered: the ketone bodies .
Our body does not store the ketone bodies , which is why our liver is prepared to produce them from fats. Beta-hydroxybutyrate represents up to 70% of the energy used by the brain and is produced only in the liver from fatty acids.
In summary : The brain can get energy from fats through ketone bodies and this has beneficial effects.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE START GIVING CARBOHYDRATES CONSTANTLY TO OUR BODY?
The excess of carbohydrates in our diet and eating too many times a day causes an adaptation of our body to use only glucose as an energy source.
Since glucose reserves are very limited and the body is consumed very quickly, we can only obtain it from the outside. This generates addiction.
Surely you have heard about the addiction caused by sugar. Well, it’s just this.
The body depends on the glucose we eat to get energy, as it has “forgotten” how to use fats.
Another more serious problem of eating too much sugar is that it induces too high levels of insulin in the blood, which in the worst case generates resistance and ends in diabetes.
Houston, we have a problem!
But do not worry. There is a solution!
We can reeducate our metabolism so that it burns more fats through the keto diet.
WHAT IS THE KETO DIET?
The keto diet consists of substantially reducing the consumption of carbohydrates (cereals, legumes, fruits, tubers …) and increasing the consumption of good fats (avocado, olive oil, coconut, etc.) in order to “force” the body to consume new fats.
The proportion of calories per macronutrient in the keto diet is usually:
- 65% – 75% fat.
- 20% protein
- 15% – 5% carbohydrates or less than 60 grams daily.
There is not a single keto diet . Some are more permissive with the consumption (controlled) of fruit, others totally exclude carbohydrates.
Keto diets have been used for a long time to mitigate neurological diseases such as epilepsy .
Fasting is also a good resource to activate the metabolism of fats and, therefore, the formation of bodies ketones.
ALLOWED FOODS IN KETO DIET
In this section we list a few of the most important keto foods allowed in keto die
The healthiest sources of fat are:
- Butter (better clarified or ghee )
- Coconut oil
- Olive oil (virgin and raw)
- Nuts and seeds previously soaked
You can consume vegetables with low carbohydrate content, especially leaves and sprouts (2 g carbohydrates / 100 grams especially in the form of fiber):
There are also fruits (up to 2.7 g carbohydrates / 100 grams in the form of sugars)
At the protein level, the intake of foods that are also rich in healthy fats (Omega 3) is recommended:
- Sardines and blue fish in general
- Organic meat
Although you can also eat without abusing another type of quality protein (rabbit, guinea pig, white fish …)
If you want to do the keto diet, you should not start without a guide first, so I recommend you follow some good Keto Diet course available on internet.
THE KETO DIET TO LOSE WEIGHT
The keto diet does not have to be considered just as a diet to lose weight, but rather a diet for metabolic reeducation. In most cases this leads to a natural loss of weight.
It has been seen in many studies that the effect of weight loss is superior to other traditional diets, but metabolic reeducation has a much longer term effect.
The effect of the most striking keto diet is seen in the feeling of satiety that it causes due to a slower digestion of fats.
The increase of ketone bodies in blood also has an effect on the decrease in the sensation of hunger, which significantly reduces the anxiety associated with weight loss diets.
THE KETO DIET AND SPORTS PERFORMANCE
For a long time it has been thought that elite athletes need to eat 4 or 5 times a day in order not to lose muscle mass and recover well from workouts.
With the keto diet and a metabolism in ketosis this is no longer necessary.
The metabolism of fats is much more efficient. Therefore, by eating less we get more energy.
This implies that with only 2 meals a day we can get all the energy necessary to perform and leave us time to be fasting that induces a greater cellular regeneration ( article ).
High concentrations of ketone bodies in blood promotes greater compaction of DNA that is more protected from damage by oxidation. This affects the speed of recovery after exercising.
But the ketone bodies are not good for everything.
When we enter anaerobic metabolism (sprints, HIITs …) there is not enough oxygen to the cell. Then the glucose goes into action with the anaerobic metabolism.
This change in metabolism does not have to worry you, on the contrary it is very healthy that the body adapts to the different energy needs
In summary: Training in ketosis gives us more energy, we recover faster and we need to eat less giving the body time to regenerate better, but always within the aerobic metabolism. We use glucose in sprints to escape from lions.
MORE BENEFITS OF THE KETO DIET
Studies have shown that levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin 1 beta, TNF alpha and interleukin 6 are reduced when we enter ketosis ( article ).
KETO DIET AND CANCER
In many types of tumors mitochondria are degraded and therefore depend solely on glycogenesis to grow. This is called the Warburg effect. If we reduce the glucose levels we can literally kill the cancer of hunger ( article ).
Several studies have shown that keto diets not only have a minor effect on the loss of muscle mass compared with other diets, but allow to maintain this mass with a lower protein intake. These cases can be anecdotal and it is not known what mechanism they follow.
Although little is yet known about the effect of ketosis on longevity, a clear association between an improvement in energy yield and therefore a reduction in food consumption has been seen. Also in a state of ketosis it is easier to establish intermittent fasting .
RISKS OF THE KETO DIET
If you do not watch well enough to consume enough vegetables or other foods rich in micronutrients can generate a deficit of vitamins, minerals and fiber. This problem is easily avoidable if a varied diet is maintained and grease of vegetal origin is obtained such as avocado, nuts and fiber of leafy vegetables.
In my case, I also recommend that vegetables always keep as many macro and micronutrients as possible. Therefore, depending on the vegetable or, eat it without cooking as the arugula, or cook it at low temperature for hours.
It is common to confuse the low consumption of carbohydrates with a high consumption of proteins. Consuming too much protein activates the route of gluconeogenesis that transforms the amino acids of the protein into glucose and therefore we do not get into ketosis .
The keto diet is not advisable in people with hepatic or cardiac problems, since in some cases it has favored the development of arrhythmias.
Diabetics also have to watch out for not entering ketoacidosis, a state in which too low levels of insulin cause an accumulation of ketone bodies that lower the pH of the blood. This is solved quickly with good insulin control and is not a problem for non-diabetics.
The worst problem is the social pressure to eat carbohydrates. Surely many of those who already follow the Paleo Diet will have experienced episodes of social rejection for not eating pasta. Imagine if we also restricted all carbohydrates!
I hope that with this article you have convinced yourself of the benefits of the keto diet.
This does not mean that now we all have to throw all the potatoes in the trash and only eat fats.
One of the great evolutionary advantages that the human being has is its great adaptability and this includes our metabolism.
Being flexible metabolically will give us the ability to quickly adapt to different situations, both consumption and energy expenditure.
Glucose is a good source of energy, so we like sweets and, in cases of anaerobic requirements, it is essential. It would also not be good if we lost the capacity to use it due to excess ketosis .
My proposal is that you do a period of metabolic reeducation of two or three weeks to start burning fat effectively.
Then you can alternate intake cycles of different macronutrients.
KETO DIET MENU PROPOSAL
A keto diet is strict on the subject of ingredients and consumption of macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats and proteins) so it is always better that someone guides you to the beginning until you have enough experience.
To maximize the benefit of the keto diet we recommend:
- Drink plenty of water or broths of vegetables and bones.
- Combine diet with workouts that maximize fat burning like HIITs. In the table above we suggest a training routine.
- Do not increase the protein intake (1.2-2 gr / kg body weight).
- Do not forget to train on an empty stomach, here you can see the benefits of training on an empty stomach .
- Make maximum 3 meals / day. Even, if you can, reduce to 2.
- When the session is a HIIT, give it all. We need the adrenaline to rise and that your body decides to mobilize the last savings (those under the mattress). Even if you like coffee you can take one to give that last push. You can add coconut oil to coffee (you’ll be fasting but you’ll eat the world).
- Rest and give yourself time to recover between sessions. If not, cortisol can play tricks on us.