The Ketogenic diet
What is the Ketogenic diet?
The ketogenic diet (Keto diet) is a high fat low carb diet. The Ketogenic diet involves drastically reducing carbohydrates (to less than 20g per day) and instead replacing them with fat. This places your body into a state called ‘physiological ketosis’. This is different from the state the body can enter when diabetes is mismanaged which is called ‘ketoacidosis’ and is life threatening.
In standard western diets the main source of fuel for the body and the brain is glucose from carbohydrates. The ketogenic diet uses fat as fuel for the body and the brain.
After three to four days on a very low carbohydrate/high fat diet, the body cannot use glucose from carbohydrates anymore for fuel and instead uses ketone bodies which are produced in the liver as its main source, this is where the diet gets it’s name from.
During ketosis there is production of acetones which are excreted through the breath. This gives your breath a pear drop or fruity scent and can be used to track whether you are in ketosis or not.
Why use a Ketogenic diet.
Ketogenic diets have been found to be a good treatment option for children with epilepsy This is due to the use of ketone bodies as fuel for brain function. It is so effective in symptom management that the NHS now recommend this diet as part of the treatment plan for children with epilepsy. Research is still needed to find out if this diet is as effective in adults with epilepsy.
There is strong evidence that a ketogenic diet can be supportive for weight lose and weight management. The exact reason a ketogenic diet can be supportive for weight loss is still not known. It is thought that this diet helps people feel fuller for longer due to the increased level of fat and protein, decreases appetite hormones, increases thermogenesis and other fat burning mechanisms in the body.
The ketogenic diet is showing positive signs of being supportive in reducing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. This is because of the presence of ketone bodies which have a neuroprotective (brain protecting) effect on aging brain cells. Ketone bodies may also enhance mitochondrial function. The mitochondrial are the energy batteries of your cells so anything we can do to improve their function can be hugely beneficial.
The ketogenic diet has been shown to improve blood glucose control and insulin resistance, making it possible dietary protocol for those with diabetes under medical supervision.
There is good evidence to suggest that a ketogenic diet can be beneficial for supporting the symptoms of PCOS due to its effects of blood sugar and insulin control.
Before you start a ketogenic diet
It is important to note that everyone is an individual, with their one unique biochemistry, gut microbiome and genetics. Some people love the Ketogenic diet and really thrive on it, while others lack energy, struggle with their digestive system and feel constantly hungry.
Because of the restrictive element of this diet, I highly recommend you seek professional advice from a registered Nutritionist or Dietician before starting a ketogenic diet. They can monitor your ketone levels, provide you with the very best protocol for your unique circumstances and monitor your health and progress. They can also advice if it would not be suitable for you at this time and recommend a dietary protocol or modification more suitable.
Due to the very high level of fat and protein in the ketogenic diet, it is important to monitor your kidney function, especially if you are using this dietary protocol for weight loss.
Due to the very high fat and protein content of this diet, it has been proposed that the ketogenic diet can influence the gut microbiome in a negative way and therefore care must be taken to eat a wide variety of plant fibres and foods and where possible include fermented and cultured foods such as sauerkraut and kimchi.
How to implement a Ketogenic diet
There are four different types of ketogenic diet.
- Standard ketogenic diet: This is a very low carbohydrate, moderate protein and high fat diet. It typically contains 70% fat, 20% protein, and only 10% carbohydrate.
- Cyclical ketogenic diet: This diet involves periods of higher carbrohydrate refeeds, such as 5 ketogenic days followed by 2 high carb days. This is typically used by athletes.
- Targeted ketogenic diet: This diet allows you to add carbs around workouts. Again, this is used by athletes.
- High protein ketogenic diet: This is similar to a standard ketogenic diet, but includes more protein. The ratio is often 60% fat, 35% protein, and 5% carbohydrates.
Foods to avoid on a ketogenic diet:
- Refined carbohydrates and sugary foods such as pasta, bread, rice, biscuits and cakes.
- All fruit except blueberries and strawberries.
- All grains such as quinoa, brown rice and buckwheat.
- All root vegetables such as sweet potatoes and parsnips.
Foods to include in a ketogenic diet:
- Meat: red meat, steak, ham, sausage, bacon, chicken, and turkey
- fatty fish: salmon, trout, tuna, and mackerel
- Eggs: whole eggs
- Butter and cream: grass-fed butter and heavy cream
- Cheese: unprocessed cheeses like cheddar, goat, cream, blue, or mozzarella
- Nuts and seeds: almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, etc.
- Healthy oils: extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, and avocado oil
- Avocados: whole avocados or freshly made guacamole
- Low carbohydrate vegetables: tomatoes, onions, peppers, leafy greens, broccoli, frozen peas etc.
- Low carbohydrate bread: Calvin’s Free From coconut flat breads are ketogenic friendly. Very low in carbohydrate and high in fat our bread makes the perfect ketogenic snack or bread replacement.
This blog was written by Calvin's Free From Foods consulting nutritionist Cara Redpath, please visit her website to find out more www.cararedpathnutrition.com
Any information provided by us is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. We always recommend referring your health queries to a qualified medical practitioner or your GP.