In the area of ​​food and diet, however, this is a problem: interest is cyclically shifting to this or that diet, to one nutrient and not another, or to foods that are initially labelled “good” then “bad” and “bad” are seen as new ” well.

In other cases, clinical dietetic concepts used in specific disease situations become general guidelines that anyone at random can follow.

The latter case is part of the ketogenic diet, or the keto diet (from the British keto diet): although many people today practice it as the “current diet,” it is a diet protocol that was born and originally used (not what most people think).


What is the ketogenic diet and what are its scientific assumptions

Ketogenic or simply “Keto” is a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet used in a specific protein ratio.

Normally the body produces energy, starting with glucose, which is obtained from the simple and complex carbohydrates that are incorporated into our diet.

However, if we choose to drastically reduce our intake of carbohydrates, our bodies will be forced to use other sources, in this case, protein and fat.

Using fat as an energy source is not a straightforward and linear mechanism, but when a ketogenic diet is well followed, the body starts producing ketone bodies and enters a state called “ketosis”.

This type of diet was born in the 1920s (and is still used today) to treat drug-resistant epilepsy or people who continue to have seizures despite medication use, especially in children.

It also appears to be beneficial in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, but while some research has shown some positive effects, some objections have been raised about the resulting gastrointestinal symptoms, decreased hunger, and the low attractiveness of these diets. From an organoleptic point of view, that fact could exacerbate the risk of malnutrition in these people.

In short, it wasn’t born as a weight loss diet.

However, the ketogenic diet also finds application in this sense, again in the clinical setting, but with the option of a significant calorie reduction.

In fact, it is known as the Very Low-Calorie Ketogenic Diet (VLCKD) and is an option that can be used to lose a lot of weight in a short amount of time, which is needed during bariatric surgery, for example.

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VLCKD is maintained as an effective strategy for treating overweight and obesity and appears to determine steady weight loss over time and calm stress, among other positive effects such as decreased BMI, waist circumference, glycated haemoglobin, total cholesterol, and triglycerides.


How it causes weight loss

Given the circumstances, it is easy to understand why this dietary principle was carried over to “coexistence”: in fact, many of them use it for weight loss, although not always consistently.

As I said, the process is indirect and varies greatly from person to person.

If you eat drastically reduced amounts of carbohydrates, say about 20 to 50 grams per day, your body will quickly use up the fuel it normally uses, both those that store blood sugar and glycogen, that is. H. Glucose is stored in the liver and muscles.

You usually enter ketosis after 3 or 4 days when the body starts breaking down protein and fat and making ketone bodies: these metabolic changes lead to changes in the body and subsequent weight loss.

Therefore, a ketogenic diet is high in protein and fat and is usually rich in fresh and processed meat, eggs, cheese, fish, nuts, butter, oils, seeds, and fibrous vegetables.

The downside is that it’s limiting and difficult to follow in the long run, as carbohydrates typically make up at least 50% of the typical Western diet.

The ketogenic diet plan may also require the use of very expensive supplements and substitutes: are you sure this is absolutely necessary in your case?

If the answer is yes, you can count on an experienced nutritionist to follow you closely and on time.



What to eat on a ketogenic diet

The goal of the keto diet is to achieve bodyweight goals by reducing carbohydrate intake and increasing fat intake by adding protein. The ultimate goal is attainable because the little sugar added, especially associated with a sedentary or nearly inactive lifestyle, is not converted into fat reserves. This is a fine balance. However, the following is an incomplete list of foods that are usually part of the ketogenic diet.


Low sugar vegetables

Vegetables are praised for their supply of fiber, vitamins and minerals and should be part of the daily diet as one of the staple foods. However, the point is that many do not realize that vegetables are high in sugar. That should lead us to eliminate all that is unnecessary.

Rocket, spinach, cauliflower, zucchini, broccoli, celery, Brussels sprouts (read about the properties of cruciferous vegetables).

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Eggs are an excellent nutritional meal because they provide a mix of proteins and fats to be consumed both in breakfast and during regular meals. I have already talked about the benefits of eggs and why they should not be demonized in ” Benefits and nutritional properties of eggs “, which I invite you to read.


Quality meats

The keto diet emphasizes the consumption of meat as it is rich in protein and fat. You have to be careful how you cook it, I have elsewhere stressed the importance of cooking food at a low temperature, ideal for keeping the nutritional values ​​intact and keeping food intact. You can choose between beef, turkey and chicken. Less frequently the pig. Avoid industrial preparations and cured meats (they can be fine from time to time, but should not be mistaken for “meat”).


Dairy product

Milk production is also important and there are high-quality pastures that provide nutritious and healthy products. Dairy products should not be consumed in excess, but in the ketogenic meal plan, they help provide the right mix of fats and proteins. It is also known that they are rich in minerals that are important for development. I have already mentioned the butter above.

Not just cheeses, unflavoured yogurt is a good breakfast meal and the base for protein-rich, seeded half-day snacks.


Not too sweet fruit

Fruit is rich in sugars so you should never overdo it regardless, even if it must be part of a balanced diet. Fruits with a lower glycemic index are berries (blueberries, mire and raspberries) to be alternated with strawberries, kiwis and clementines. Better if in season. In general, however, those on a strict keto diet tend to avoid fruit.


Coffee and dark chocolate

Dark chocolate is known for its more bitter and less inviting taste than milk, but it can still satisfy the sweet tooth. Always without exaggerating.

Beverages such as unsweetened tea and coffee.



Rich in protein and good fats, fish can be eaten in many variations. The most nutritious meats are those of the Salmonidae family, tuna and all bluefish (mackerel, sardines, herring, anchovies).


Vegetable oils

The vegetable oil is very present in our kitchen. A real cure-all is an extra virgin olive oil of Mediterranean origin, to be used as a condiment. Seed oil is also used.

Use unsweetened condiments to enrich dishes.


Because it can’t go well in the long run

Although ketogenic diets as effective in short-term weight loss (within 3-6 months), they specify that they do not show any net long-term advantage over diets with content. controlled carbohydrates.

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For this reason, in addition to the fact that very low carbohydrate diets may not be sustainable for a medium to long term, they recommend the use of ketogenic diets only in the short term, favouring moderate carbohydrate intakes even in the treatment of overweight and obesity. . An extraordinary intervention therefore and not ordinary (ie weight maintenance ).

One thing not to be underestimated in the implementation of this type of regimen is the side effects, especially at the beginning: the most common are usually not serious and can include headaches, weakness, irritability, bad breath, fatigue, constipation, nausea, vomiting and sleep problems.

There are some situations where this diet is contraindicated, such as if you are pregnant, taking medications, diabetes or kidney problems, where it could cause serious health problems.

Like any diet that involves restrictive behaviours, ketogenic can induce the onset of eating disorders, given that the absence of carbohydrates pushes to fuel the desire to eat and then translate into unmanageable binges.

A major criticism of this diet is that many people, in an effort to self-manage it, tend to eat too much protein and poor-quality fats from processed foods, with very little fruit and vegetables.

It is also important to note that the ketogenic diet only focuses on immediate weight loss and provides no basis for a balanced diet and any health benefits (essentially: eating better in a balanced way based on a healthy diet ).



Importance of the role of carbohydrates

I have often talked about the importance of introducing the right quantity and quality of carbohydrates in the diet, also depending on the level of physical activity and training practised every day.

In the article on the importance of carbohydrates, I will explain how to distinguish the various types of carbohydrates, what effects they have on your metabolism and how to best introduce them into your eating day.

However, the basic rules can be summarized as follows:

  • add a portion of complex carbohydrates to each meal;
    prefer whole grains, rich in beneficial fibers;
    limit refined grains;
    avoid as much as possible the simple sugars of the processed products.

To feel good, it is not necessary to engage in complicated diets. The more risks you want to take, the greater the medical consultation you need. In the medium to long term, you are interested in a balanced diet that allows you to eliminate unnecessary fat, maintain lean mass and promote psychophysical well-being (which a life-giving up could put in crisis).


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