What is the Ketogenic Diet?
The ketogenic diet is characterized by the consumption of low-carb, high-fat foods. As a consequence of eating such foods, many experience weight loss which can be extremely beneficial for those aiming to manage their weight.
This occurs as a result of the dramatic reduction in carbohydrate intake, to be replaced by fats instead, because of which the body goes into ketosis, which is a natural metabolic state. As a result, the body becomes more efficient in burning fat for energy, and it is also thought to convert ketones within the liver into energy which can be used to power the brain.
How Does Ketosis Burn Fat?
In a state of ketosis, the body’s glucose reserves become too low for normal fat oxidation and are unable to supply glucose to the central nervous system (CNS).
The CNS cannot use fatty acids as a source of energy since free fatty acids cannot cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB). After 3 to 4 days of abstinence of carbohydrates, the CNS has to find alternative energy sources.
One such source is ketone bodies (KBs), specifically, acetoacetate, β-hydroxybutyrate and acetone, which are produced primarily through ketogenesis which occurs in the liver, within the mitochondrial matrix.
Best Foods to Eat on the Ketogenic Diet
Followers of the ketogenic diet are limited to 20 to 50 grams of carbohydrates per day which is roughly equivalent to one large potato and half a kilogram of vegetables.
To remain within this allowance, there are particular foods that are recommended which are lower in carbohydrates. However, it is still down to the individual to avoid the overconsumption of any food, whether they are recommended or not, as too many carbohydrates may interfere with the development of ketosis.
Fish and Seafood
Most fish and seafood is allowed on the ketogenic diet. Apart from being rich in B vitamins and potassium, these foods are also quite low in carbohydrates.
Overconsumption of starchy vegetables should be avoided on the ketogenic diet. However, non-starchy vegetables are recommended, especially greens such as spinach, Brussels sprouts and kale.
Research also suggests that eating such foods is associated with a reduction in the risk of developing cancer and heart disease.
Low-carb vegetables can be a good substitution for other high-carb foods, for example, rice can be substituted with cauliflower rice.
The popularity of avocados has increased over recent years with many considering it a superfood alongside kale. In addition to containing several vital vitamins, avocados also contain potassium. It is thought that the consumption of foods rich in potassium may assist in the body’s transition into ketosis.
Worst Foods to Eat on the Ketogenic Diet
Certain foods are not recommended on the ketogenic diet as they are too high in carbohydrates.
Despite the many health benefits of fruit, there is an issue with some fruits on the keto diet. Grapes and bananas, for instance, contain high quantities of carbs. 1 cup of grapes has approximately 26 grams and a medium banana, 24 grams of carbohydrate.
As a rule, these fruits should be avoided. However, a cup of strawberries contains 8 grams and a medium orange 12 grams of carbohydrates. Therefore these are permissible in moderate amounts on the diet.