Ketogenic diet: more power without carbohydrates?

More and more people are following the keto diet hype: strict low carb and high fat diets. How the diet works, whether it actually helps to lose weight, what it means to build muscle and if it is suitable for everyone - we tell you here.

The ketogenic diet is virtually a no- or low-low-carb diet. In a normal diet, the body uses the carbohydrates supplied as an energy source.

In the keto diet, the body is switched to lipid metabolism. Some endurance athletes use a ketogenic nutritional plan for the pre-competition training phase.

Messages have come up with a keto hype, such as that you can taste great with brownie fudge, peanut butter cups or white chocolate. Provided you prepare it extremely low in carbohydrates and very high in fat. Ketogen stops.

Pinterest is currently being flooded with keto fatbomb creations with coconut oil, cocoa butter, butter or cream cheese. With nutmeg, unsweetened cocoa, chopped nuts or vanilla. Sounds too good to be true? That's right, because that's not how it is.

This is how the ketogenic diet works

In this form of diet, the carbohydrate content in the diet is radically reduced. On the other hand, the fat and protein content is significantly increased. The body is thus trained to convert the fat into so-called ketone bodies, which then serve as "replacement glucose".

The result: an increased metabolism and increased performance. However, a mineral and vitamin deficiency may occur, so in the ketogenic diet, this should be administered to the body in addition.

The principle ketogen

Actually, this diet is a therapy for the treatment of severe epilepsy. Scientists and physicians suggest that the increased levels of ketone bodies produced by the breakdown of fat reserves have a positive effect on the disease.

The aim of the ketogenic diet is to significantly reduce the seizure frequency and duration, as well as the dose of the required antiepileptic drugs. However, since this form of nutrition requires a drastic conversion of the body, it should always be accompanied by a doctor.

A regular review of the state of health is indispensable. In addition, the ketogenic diet is also not suitable as a permanent diet, but should be interrupted regularly. Otherwise there is a risk of acidification of the body.

Which foods are allowed, which are not?

In a ketogenic diet, only 5 percent of your energy needs should be met by carbohydrates, 35 percent by proteins and 60 percent by fats.

Permitted are: good vegetable oils (olive oil, coconut oil), butter and ghee, to be equated with clarified butter, meat, fatty fish (eg salmon), nuts, vegetables with low content of starch and fructose, for example mushrooms, lettuce, cucumber, asparagus Spinach, avocado, zucchini, eggplant, cabbage and green beans. What about fruits?

On the other hand, these foods are taboo: pasta, bread, oatmeal, rice, legumes (lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans), potatoes, root vegetables (carrots, parsnips, beetroot) and red vegetables such as tomatoes and red peppers, as they contain lots of fructose ,

Fruit as part of a ketogenic diet is only an option if it contains little fructose. What is left? Lemons, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries. Bananas have too much starch and sugar. Strawberries, plums and apples are also not ketogenic.

Advantages and disadvantages of the ketogenic diet

If one weighs the pros and cons of the keto diet against each other, outweigh for a non-competitive athlete and normal healthy people, the disadvantages. These are:

  • Strong bad breath: In the ketosis, ie the fat metabolism, the body excretes more ketone bodies, organic compounds, through the mouth.
  • Side effects: Especially during the changeover phase, fatigue and constipation can occur due to the low-fiber diet.
  • The liver can be stressed by high-fat foods, so the ketogenic diet is not suitable for people with fatty liver or heart problems
  • As a permanent diet not only unsuitable, but dangerous: danger of acidification, deficiency symptoms, concentration decline
  • Low supply of micronutrients and vitamins, as it is dispensed with many fruits and vegetables that contain much fructose
  • Irregular menstrual cycles can occur

In the short term, after the harsh transition phase, you may see the following benefits:

  • Less concentration fluctuations, as the insulin level remains constant due to the low carbohydrate intake and increased protein intake
  • Good saturated fatty acids, e.g. from nuts and fat fish, improve endurance performance
  • You get less cravings, due to the low insulin release
  • Improved blood sugar, due to the carbohydrate deficit of simple sugars
  • weight loss
  • Ketogenic diet has an anti-inflammatory effect and thus promotes an improvement in the appearance of the skin

Who is the keto diet suitable for?

You can try the keto diet if you are looking for food to lose weight. Rigorous renunciation of carbohydrates and minimization of protein intake, reprogram the metabolism so that he uses fats as the main source of energy, for example, from dietary fats and from Fettpölsterchen belly, butt and Co.

However, until the body switches to fat burner mode - ketosis - a few uncomfortable detox days go by. After that, more energy, less hunger, faster weight loss. But every fat bomb remains a calorie bomb! And that endangers in excess any diet.

You can use the ketogenic diet instead of fruit or fasting. After all, you do not completely give up solid food. However, you give the body a lot of fat, which has an adverse effect on the acid-base ratio and on the intestinal flora.

In a phase of tough competition preparation, the keto diet can be a power booster. But only under medical supervision and for a clearly limited period of time.

Sport and muscle building with ketogenic nutrition

Some triathletes and marathon runners are now taking advantage of the ketogenic diet to prepare better and more effectively for their competitions.

During the preparation they completely change their diet and train their body to gain energy from the fat stores.

During the competition, the athletes then return to a carbohydrate-rich diet. Thus, the body receives fast energy in the form of sugar, but continues to run on the fat metabolism and can therefore withstand long loads.

However, a new study from the year 2018 shows: With the ketogenic diet, the performance decreases!

By consuming high-fat and high-protein foods, the acidity in the body increases and this leads to a reduction in performance. Read: Ketogenic diet: Does the weight loss trend affect performance?

Ketogenic diet effective against cancer?

However, controversial discussions about the high-fat diet are not limited to athletes. In diseases such as epilepsy and Alzheimer's, carbohydrate-deficiency has been shown to be beneficial.

In particular, in children suffering from epilepsy, for whom drug therapy was unsuccessful, a low carbohydrate diet could reduce both the number and severity of epileptic seizures.

Although the pathophysiological background is still unclear, scientists hypothesise that hypoglycaemia, which causes seizures, is less common in the low-carbohydrate diet.

Does the ketogenic diet also help cancer patients?

The renunciation of carbohydrates and sugar has for some years for the consideration that a ketogenic diet could also help in cancer patients to cure. The basis for the assumption is that cancer cells gain their energy mainly through the fermentation of sugars.

The ketogenic diet would deprive the cells of any nutritional base and, so to speak, "starve" them - the body then resorts to the fat reserves for energy. Thus, inflammatory processes in the body that drive cancerous tumors would be reduced.

Initial studies on this theory give hope, but high-quality and evidence-based studies are lacking. The previously published studies refer to experiments in mice and it is questionable in how far the results of the studies can be transferred to humans. Conducting human cancer studies is also very difficult for ethical reasons.

Are fasting and the ketogenic diet advisable?

Although some studies point to the effectiveness of the low carbohydrate diet for the treatment of various diseases, there are currently no reliable scientific publications on it. Cancer patients should be careful with diet changes and fasting measures. This is especially true when patients hope for a sole cure by changing the diet.

Since the ketogenic diet dispenses with fruit and high-carbohydrate vegetables, it can lead to a possible undersupply of essential vitamins and minerals.

Other fasting methods could also lead to weakening of the body and worsening of health. It is therefore all the more important to educate patients about possible opportunities of the ketogenic diet, but also about the potential dangers.

Ketogenic recipes for everyday life

You can nourish yourself in a wonderfully ketogenic way. But only for a limited time. It's really important! The keto diet is fasting and this is a real ordeal for the body.

*The result may be different in each individual case.

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