First appearing in the 1920s, the ketogenic or keto diet was initially associated with benefits for severe epilepsy. But with the advent of effective treatments for this condition, the diet became side-lined in the 1970s. It has recently found itself back in the spotlight due to one of its quite specific effects ...
If the keto diet is famous, it’s because it can lead to significant, and relatively rapid, weight loss. The diet consists of adjusting your intake of fat, sugar and protein. Specifically, you eat a lot of fat (75%), some protein (20%) and very little carbohydrate (5%). The body thus has to find an alternative source of energy to the carbohydrates it normally uses.
The keto diet makes levels of insulin fall and those of glucagon rise until a state of ketosis is reached. The liver then produces ketone bodies, which the body will use as its preferred source of energy (1), removing, in the process, sugar (in the liver) and fats (in adipose cells). That’s what produces the weight loss.
Weight loss and the removal of stored fat and sugar have a beneficial effect on metabolism. Reductions in hypercholesterolaemia, blood pressure, etc. Cardiovascular indicators all improve as a result of the keto diet (2). Diabetics see their insulin resistance decrease (3). Some studies have even shown that the keto diet can mean diabetic patients are able to stop their drug treatment (4).
Some scientists believe the keto diet also offers the same promise in the case of certain cancers (5), by reducing tumour size and restricting the formation of vessels. Results are equally encouraging in relation to neurodegenerative diseases (such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s) (6).
If you want tolose a substantial amount of weight, the keto diet will help restore healthy cardiovascular indicators. It’s also frequently recommended for sports enthusiasts , who can use it to improve their performance.
It’s important to emphasise that the keto diet requires long-term dietary changes. It’s not a temporary fix: it has to be maintained over time in order to see continued benefits.
It’s also worth noting if you want to start a keto diet, that it can produce some unpleasant side effects during the first few weeks: bad breath, headaches, nausea … What’s more, it’s quite a strict diet and is therefore not that easy to follow over the long-term. Eating with friends in a restaurant, for example, can quickly become hard to manage. You should therefore be fully informed and committed before launching into it.
The rules of the keto diet are clear: it’s all about eating a lot of fat and very little sugar. But what does that mean in practice?
The foods you should prioritise include:
And those to avoid:
After a while, it becomes easier to navigate your way through the ketogenic maze. But to start with, concentrate on reading the labels of the products you buy and try to identify foods with the least amount of carbohydrate.
Before starting the keto diet, make sure you consult a qualified nutritionist or dietitian for advice. Some dietary supplements, such as MCT OIL Pure C8 (a coconut-based MCT oil, highly concentrated in caprylic acid), can also help you stick to the keto diet and increase its effects.
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