On the keto diet, you eat almost no carbohydrates. You do eat a relatively large amount of fats. The idea is that your body will then use fat as an energy source. And that’s why you lose weight. But it is not easy.
Lose weight with the keto diet?
A normal diet contains 50 to 60% carbohydrates. With the keto diet, you hardly eat any carbohydrates: a maximum of 5 to 10%. You mainly eat fats and a small portion of proteins. The keto diet is often combined with intermittent fasting.
You can try the keto diet if other methods fail to lose weight. But you need a lot of perseverance. It is not easy to eat a few carbohydrates.
With the keto diet, you lose weight quickly in the beginning. This is mainly due to moisture loss. In the long term, it is difficult to sustain eating so few carbohydrates.
Do you want to lose weight? In the first place, make sure that you take in less energy than you use.
How does the keto diet work?
Carbohydrates are an important source of energy. Your body uses the glucose from carbohydrates for energy combustion. If you follow the keto diet strictly, the available glucose in your body will run out at some point. To get enough energy, the cells have to switch to fatty acid combustion.
In this process, ketones (also called ketone bodies) enter the blood. Your body uses these ketones as fuel instead of glucose. At that point, you are ‘in ketosis’. You notice whether your body is in ketosis by bad breath, less hunger, and more thirst. Ketone levels can be measured in the urine with special strips.
What does the ketogenic diet involve?
Ketogenic food lists vary. Sometimes they are also contradictory. In any case, there is fat on the menu. Saturated fat from (processed) meat, lard and butter. In addition, plenty of unsaturated fats from nuts, seeds, avocados, vegetable oils, and fatty fish.
Starch from all grains, including whole grains, is not allowed. So you don’t eat bread, cereals, pasta, rice, and cookies. Also leave out corn, potatoes, and other starchy vegetables, as well as legumes. And you also eliminate most fruits from your diet, along with fruit juices.
Different keto programs prescribe different ratios of carbohydrates, proteins, fats. Usually, you eat less than 50 grams of carbohydrates per day, sometimes even as little as 20 grams. You eat little protein because it can get in the way of ketosis. For a 2,000-calorie diet, this means roughly the following:
|vet||165 gram||70 – 80%|
For whom is the diet (not) suitable?
The Nutrition Center advises following the ketogenic diet only under the supervision of a doctor or dietician. Such an expert can assess whether it is safe and whether you are getting all the nutrients your body needs.
The effect of the keto diet on cholesterol (pdf) is not yet clear. Several studies have been conducted with different results. Some have seen a positive effect. But this does not have to be due to the keto diet, it can also be purely due to weight loss. Weight loss in itself has many health benefits. In other studies, less good cholesterol levels were measured in people with a healthy weight.
- In many people, the ketogenic diet can have beneficial effects in the short term. However, little is known about the long-term effects.
- People with type 2 diabetes may benefit from it. The ketogenic diet increases insulin sensitivity. The diet is also used in the treatment of epilepsy.
- Ketogenic food is less suitable for strength and endurance athletes. Strength athletes and endurance athletes need more carbohydrates than the diet allows. Recreational athletes can follow the diet.
- At the risk of cardiovascular disease. Due to the high fat content, it is not recommended for people at risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Losing weight: The ketogenic diet makes you lose weight. The results after 5 months are better than the results of a low-fat or Mediterranean diet, such as the Pioppi diet.
- More stable blood sugar: by eliminating carbohydrates you have fewer peaks and troughs in your blood sugar level and you prevent an ‘after dinner dip’. Eating fats and proteins keeps blood sugar levels in balance.
- Fewer snack needs: proteins and fats ensure good satiety. In combination with a more constant blood sugar level, you are less likely to snack on snacks.
- Lose weight without counting: with the ketogenic diet you don’t have to count calories.
- Difficult to sustain: because you can eat so few carbohydrates. Good preparation and planning help.
- Side effects: in the beginning, you may suffer from complaints such as fatigue, headache, and concentration problems. This usually disappears after about 5 days. In the first weeks of ketosis, your breath may start to smell like acetone. In most people, this disappears once the body has adjusted.
- Fluid loss: in the beginning, you lose a lot of fluid and no fat. That can give a distorted picture.
- Long-term effects: It is still unclear what the long-term effects are of a ketogenic diet.
- Nutrient deficiency: By excluding entire food groups, you will end up with deficiencies in the long run. Including fiber, B vitamins, and minerals.
- Constipation: Too little fiber can lead to intestinal problems, such as constipation. You also miss the positive effects of whole grain products: they lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.