The ketogenic diet is the most searched on the Internet to lose weight: how this nutritional pattern works

The ketogenic diet is among those that generate the most interest in the networks. This is because the scientific evidence supports it for its multiple benefits: weight loss, metabolic improvements, glycemic control. What are these goodnesses due to? It is essential to understand why this diet is not just another "diet", but a healthy nutritional pattern to understand the reason for so much attention.

What is the ketogenic diet and why does it work

A pattern that minimizes the amount of carbohydrates, giving priority to fats and proteins within the diet, is known by this name. This nutritional pattern seeks ketosis, a natural physiological process in which the body generates substances known as ketone bodies from fats and due to a deficiency of carbohydrates.

Ketosis consumes fat for energy quickly but less efficiently than "conventional" metabolism, such as beta oxidation of fats or the Krebs cycle and glycolysis. This translates into an increase in caloric expenditure, as it is more inefficient, which can help reduce the accumulation of fats and glycogen. It also helps control blood glucose levels, or blood sugar.

In other words, one of the reasons for its effectiveness lies in its inefficiency, since it requires more fats to produce the same amount of energy. In particular, ketosis appears when there are no more carbohydrates in the blood, so that the cell begins to generate substances that are consumed rapidly from fatty acids: those known as ketone bodies.

The ketone bodies are: acetoacetic acid or betahydroxybutyric acid. Naturally, under fasting conditions, the brain is able to consume up to 75% of these, if glucose is not available. If we induce ketosis by reducing the amount of carbohydrates, in the end, it will be the rest of the body that will consume these ketone bodies generated from fats.

What the scientific evidence says

Numerous studies, such as this one sponsored by the University of Cambridge, this international macro-study or this meta-analysis of the Obesity Epidemiology Research Center have proven that a diet low in carbohydrates, high in protein and that bases its energy intake on fats, helps to lose weight and keep it off over time, as well as other benefits.

Although some of the studies warn of the need for long-term reviews, the truth is that there is evidence that the effects of these diets last at least a year. But, in addition to the issue of weight and fat control, the keto diet may also work for other reasons. For example, the evidence has also highlighted its usefulness in suppressing appetite, which would help control.

Another benefit associated with the ketogenic diet is its effectiveness in controlling the level of glycemia, or blood sugar. Studies conducted with patients suffering from diabetes have proven its effectiveness in improving carbohydrate metabolism, which can help regulate the disease or, if not suffering from it, prevent it.

In addition to all of the above, curiously, the keto diet also shows the potential to prevent cognitive decline, although the mechanism is not exactly known and most studies have been conducted in rats. Of course, the researchers work with the hypothesis that the control of sugars would be related to this fact.

Ketoacidosis, the potential danger of the ketogenic diet

Despite the benefits mentioned, there is a case where ketosis can turn against us, and that is when it causes ketoacidosis. Ketoacidosis occurs because ketone bodies are acidic species.

Although the blood has some ability to support pH variation, changing it radically can cause a serious systemic problem. Among other things, blood needs a specific pH range to be able to carry out the oxygen exchange. Faced with excessive acidification, hemoglobin is unable to capture it and the blood loses its transport capacity.

In addition, it causes another series of problems and injuries at the cellular level whose consequences can be very negative. Fortunately, ketoacidosis is not usually an immediate danger, and its appearance is observed in several gradual consequences: for example, ketone odor on the breath, urine and genitals; tiredness, discomfort, nausea ... The worst cases of ketoacidosis, those that are truly dangerous, occur associated with metabolic problems, such as diabetes.

For a healthy person, reaching the case of acute ketoacidosis is not easy, although excess ketone bodies can be touched on several occasions, something that we will notice due to the symptoms that we mentioned. In case of suffering a metabolic disorder or disease, it is better not to carry out this type of diet, although it can be adopted with the help of a specialist.

How do I prepare my own keto diet?

One of the best things about the keto diet, like all good "diets", and not strict diets that claim to work miracles, is that it is not entirely embedded in a food and quantity scheme. Furthermore, if we get away from the "theory" a little, we will continue to obtain many of its benefits. This is what happens, basically, with the Mediterranean diet, but with reduced sugars.

It is not strictly a keto diet, but it has been shown to retain many of the good things, adding its own potential. But back to the keto diet, let's talk about how to go about it. Any "menu" can be adapted to a ketogenic pattern as long as it complies with the following proportions: 50-60% fat and between 20-30% protein, leaving 10%, at most, carbohydrates.

How do we do it? We must reduce foods rich in carbohydrates such as cereals and derivatives, eliminate sugar, limit and control fruits and vegetables ... In the ketogenic diet, sources of fat and protein must predominate in order to produce ketosis, which is the basis of its effectiveness. .

Foods such as fresh turkey breast, chicken breast, lean beef, fish, eggs, yogurt and cheeses, olive oil, peanuts, avocado, olives ... are high in protein and fatty, but of good quality, reducing the amount of carbohydrates in the diet. Again, the important thing is not in itself to adopt a strict diet, but to understand it and adapt it to our eating pattern. Only in this way will we achieve adherence, probably the most important factor when choosing a diet.

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