The ketogenic diet is a diet that takes its name from the fact that the body switches to using ketones as a primary source of energy. These ketones ar
The ketogenic diet is a diet that takes its name from the fact that the body switches to using ketones as a primary source of energy. These ketones are made in the liver from broken down fat particles. It will therefore not surprise you that a ketogenic diet mainly consists of the consumption of fat.
Your body will use fat as an energy source, because consumption of carbohydrates is kept to a minimum. In a typical regular Western (American) diet, about half of the calories consumed (50%) are carbohydrates, 35% are fat, and 15% are protein .
With a ketogenic diet, the above proportions of macronutrients (ratio between carbohydrates, proteins fat) are shaken up.
The consumption of carbohydrates in a ketogenic diet is reduced to 5% of your daily calorie consumption. This means that you will eat between 20-50 grams of carbohydrates in a day.
The ketogenic diet has a reputation for being a fairly ‘hardcore’ diet in the sense that it ‘sidelines’ a whole group of nutrients. This is because the purpose of the diet is to get your body into a ketogenic state; ketosis.
Ketosis is a natural response from your body to survive when you eat little. During this process, your body produces so-called ketones. These are substances that arise when the liver breaks down fats.
So you are going to lose fat, by eating more fat !!
With which types of food you can achieve the best results, you will now read.
The following topics are covered:
Macronutrients in the ketogenic diet
- Fruits and vegetables
- Dairy products
- Nuts and seeds
- Water and other drinks
- Seasonings and sauces
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Macronutrients in the ketogenic diet
Before discussing the different food groups, it is important to discuss the composition of different nutrients within the ketogenic diet.
To get and stay in ketosis you will have to keep your macronutrients in the right balance.
The image below shows that the distribution of your macronutrients consists of about 70% fat (fats), 25% proteins (protein) and 5% carbohydrates (carbs).
This equates to about 20 to 30 grams of net carbs per day. To calculate the number of net carbohydrates, you take the total number of carbohydrates minus the non-digestible carbohydrates (fiber and polyols).
In addition to being important to minimize your carbohydrate intake, it’s equally important not to consume too much protein. Your protein intake should be moderate, not high.
Now you may think:
“But proteins are not carbohydrates, why should I pay attention to this?”
Because the body prefers glucose as an energy source, it has a mechanism that is able to convert proteins into glucose. This process is called gluconeogenesis.
Within a ketogenic diet, you want to avoid this process for two reasons:
When the body uses proteins as fuel, this prevents your body from getting into ketosis. So you will not experience the benefits of ketosis, your body remains dependent on glucose as fuel instead of fat.
In addition, it is not desirable for your body to convert proteins into glucose because you can also lose your own muscle mass in this way. Muscles are made up of proteins, and when gluconeogenesis occurs, your body breaks down muscle mass to use as fuel. So instead of fat, you are burning your own muscles!
So now let’s take a look at what DOs exist in the ketogenic diet, and the DONTS are also covered.
On a keto diet, you get most of your calories from fats. Of course you can take your own preferences into account. You can use oil and fat in your meals in many ways; in dressings and sauces, for example, but also simply by adding a knob of butter to a piece of meat.
Fats are essential for our bodies, but if you eat too many of the wrong types, they can also be dangerous. With a keto diet you are dealing with different types.
Different foods usually combine different types of fat, but the unhealthy fats are easy to avoid.
Within the ketogenic diet, three types of fats are allowed: saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats. Let’s see which foods belong to this.
It may be that the alarm bells are ringing for you now, and that you think:
“Saturated fats?!? But aren’t they unhealthy ?! ”
For years, saturated fats have been put in a bad light because they were believed to be bad for the cardiovascular system.
However, recent scientific studies have shown that there is no link between consumption of saturated fats and cardiovascular disease (2). In fact, there are even proven health benefits related to healthy saturated fats.
Recommended sources of saturated fats in the ketogenic diet:
- Coconut oil
- Cocoa butter
- Red meat
In contrast to saturated fats, monounsaturated fatty acids have had a good reputation for years. Scientific research has shown that they are good for your HDL cholesterol and better insulin sensitivity
Recommended sources of monounsaturated fats within the ketogenic diet:
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Avocados and avocado oil
- Macadamia nuts and macadamia oil
Polyunsaturated fats carry proven health benefits attributed to the presence of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These are essential nutrients, which means that your body can only get them through nutrition.
However, it is very important to monitor the correct ratio between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in your diet. The ideal ratio is 1: 1.
In the standard Western diet, however, this ratio is 1:30, so an overdose of omega-6! This has an inflammatory effect and is therefore not desirable.
Therefore, try to focus on the consumption of healthy omega-3 fatty acids from fatty fish and you can supplement them with a fish oil supplement or, even better, with krill oil.
Recommended sources of polyunsaturated fats:
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Linseed and linseed oil
- Fatty fish (sardines, salmon, mackerel)
- Chia seeds
- Nut oil
- Avocado oil
- Hemp oil
When heating the above oils (except avocado oil and olive oil), free radicals are created that are harmful to your body. The oils oxidize and lose their healthy properties!
If you like to bake your food, opt for non-hydrogenated lard, beef fat, ghee or coconut oil, as they have a higher smoking point than other oils. This reduces the oxidation of the oil, which means that you get more of the essential fatty acids.
As stated earlier in this article, about 20-25% of your daily calorie consumption on a ketogenic diet should be protein.
It is important to pay close attention to this, because with too high protein consumption, your body switches to a process called gluconeogenesis. This means that your body breaks down proteins into amino acids and then turns them into glucose.
The result of too high protein consumption is that your body will still use glucose as fuel, so that you do not get or stay in ketosis.
One tip that can “balance” proteins with fats is to balance the proteins in your meals with fatter side dishes and sauces. If you want to eat lean beef, you have to be extra careful with the portions of protein.
Beef jerky and other low-fat beef snacks can quickly add up to your proteins, so always combine these types of products with something fat – cheese, for example!
Recommended protein sources are:
Beef (preferably fatty parts):
- Minced meat
Pork (preferably fatty parts):
- Minced meat
- Pork loin
- Pork chops
- Attorney patches
Chicken (preferably dark meat such as thighs)
- A D
- Other wildfowl
Fish (the fattier the better):
Shellfish / seafood:
- Organ meats
Organ meats are not everyone’s favorite. It can be the taste or the texture of the meat that sometimes takes some getting used to. Yet organ meats are full of vitamins and nutrients. It is not without reason that the liver has been called the “multivitamin of mother nature”.
So try eating kidneys, liver, tongue or heart. Prepared correctly it can be very tasty and therefore very nutritious.
Nut butters are also good ways to get proteins and fats. Choose unsweetened and fattier varieties such as almond, hazelnut and macadamia butter.
Watch out for overconsumption because otherwise you will consume too much omega-6 fatty acids. Macadamias have the best ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids of all nuts.
Eggs have had a bad reputation for years with regard to cholesterol and cardiovascular disease. According to the, now obsolete, Disc of Five, one could eat a maximum of three eggs per week, because otherwise the cholesterol level would be negatively affected.
But what turns out? Eating an egg every day actually reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease (4). So bring the omelets, poached eggs, and boiled eggs!
Below is a list of some of the most eaten protein sources within the Keto diet and their respective nutritional values. Keep in mind that you still need to balance your protein intake versus your fat consumption.
Fruits and vegetables
The best types of vegetables for a ketogenic diet are high in nutrients and low in carbohydrates. These are, as you probably guessed, especially the (dark) green leafy vegetables. Anything that looks like spinach or kale falls into this category and is the best you can add to anything you like.
Try to choose cruciferous vegetables that grow above the ground and that are leafy and green. If possible, choose organic; there are fewer residues of pesticides, but if organic does not work, do not worry. Studies show that organic and non-organic vegetables still have the same nutritional value. Frozen vegetables as well as fresh are fine.
You should avoid starchy vegetables such as potatoes, parsnips and corn because of their high carbohydrate content.
Below you will find a nutritional table for the most commonly eaten vegetables that fit into a ketogenic diet. Keep in mind that the weight of all items in the table is the same, which can give a skewed view of the amount of carbohydrates.
For example: during a meal you can eat about 175 grams of broccoli as a side dish, but of course you don’t eat 175 grams of blueberries with your breakfast; such an amount would be enough for a pudding for four people.
Within the keto diet you can use many different dairy products, as long as they are full fat. Organic and raw products are also preferred over pasteurized.
Below is a nutritional table of the most common dairy products eaten with the ketogenic diet. By far the most used products are cream (for tea / coffee) and cheese (for extra fat during the meal).
Dairy products that you absolutely want to avoid are low-fat dairy products, because here the valuable fats are extracted, while the fats should serve as fuel for our body.
Below you see a table with the most common products that are consumed during a ketogenic diet.
Please note: the nutritional values in the table are based on portions of about 28 grams.
Nuts and seeds
Nuts can be a great source of fat, but don’t forget that they are so high in carbohydrates that they can hit the mark.
It is also important to note that nuts also contain protein. Nut flour, in particular, can quickly yield large amounts of protein – so be careful about how much you use.
Nuts can also contain a lot of omega-6 fatty acids, so also in this regard it is good to be aware of the amount you consume. In general, it is best to choose the fatter nut types with relatively low carbohydrates.
Ideal Keto Nut: The Macadamia
The king of nuts is the macadamia. This nut has the best fatty acid ratio of all nuts.
Where some nuts quickly lead to a skewed ratio between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, the macadamia is distinguished by having little of the inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids.
In addition, the macadamia is rich in healthy monounsaturated fats.
The only downside to this super nut is the price, unfortunately macadamias aren’t as cheap as a bag of salted peanuts from the bottom shelves of the supermarket.
Other fatty, low-carb nuts are Brazil nuts and pecans.
A category of nuts that you can consume in moderation are the fat nuts with an average amount of carbohydrates:
- Pine nuts
In addition, there is also a category of nuts that are high in carbohydrates and that you should therefore rarely or never eat !:
Below is a nutritional table of some of the nuts used during the Keto diet. Remember that snacking will curb your weight loss:
Water and other drinks
The ketogenic diet has a diuretic effect, which means that your body expels moisture faster. Simply put: you have to urinate more often.
This means that you not only lose more fluid, but also electrolytes. Dehydration symptoms are common in most people at first. If you’re prone to inflammation of the urinary tract or bladder, it’s especially important to be prepared for this.
A good way to counteract the loss of electrolytes and dehydration symptoms is to use salt and water in combination.
Water and Sea Salt, an effective duo
The eight recommended glasses of water a day? Drink it, then a few more. Assuming that we are two thirds water, hydration plays an essential role in our everyday life. We recommend that you drink more than 3.5 liters of water per day if possible.
By adding a little salt (preferably pink Himalayan salt) to the water you can compensate for the loss of electrolytes. In addition, the water is absorbed into your body faster this way.
In his book Own The Day, Own Your Life, one of the most important tips American health expert Aubrey Marcus gives to start a new day full of energy is as simple as it is effective.
He calls it the “Morning Mineral Cocktail”:
- 350 ml of filtered water
- 3 grams of sea salt or pink Himalayan salt
- 1 / 4th lemon squeezed in the water
The loss of electrolytes and minerals can be compensated by using more sea salt.
Sea salt contains more than 60 (!!) minerals and trace elements.
In addition to sodium, chloride and iodine, it also contains phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, potassium, bromine, boron, zinc, iron, manganese and copper.
Together, these minerals are essential for a healthy functioning body. For example, sodium ensures the binding of water in the body, in the body’s cells and beyond. This ensures good hydration.
And now you probably think:
“THREE grams of salt ?! But what about my blood pressure ?! Shouldn’t we be taking in less salt? ”
Salt has gotten a bad name over the past few decades because it raises your blood pressure and is said to promote cardiovascular disease.
However, several scientific studies have been conducted where limiting salt consumption has NOT proven to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (5). These included large-scale studies involving as many as 11,346 and 3,681 subjects (6) (7).
Especially in the case of a ketogenic diet, where you expel more salt through the urine, you will have to eat MORE salt to replenish your minerals.
Find out more about the misconceptions about salt and the importance of salt as Mother Nature’s mineral supplement HERE!
Broth is also a good way to replenish your electrolytes. The best way is to make a broth from bones (marrowbone, etc.) yourself, because this way you will get the valuable nutrients from the bones and bone marrow. It is also a natural source of collagen.
Many people choose keto-proof coffee (the famous Bullet-Proof Coffee!) Or morning tea to boost their energy levels, in combination with added fats. While this is perfectly fine, it is also important to limit flavored drinks. This is all the more true in the case of caffeine, as too much of it can slow down your weight loss; so try to stick to a maximum of two cups of coffee or other caffeinated drinks.
Coconut or almond milk
You can use the unsweetened versions available at the supermarket to replace your favorite dairy drink. Ideal for smoothies.
Despite not containing carbohydrates, some sweeteners can still cause insulin spikes because they are related to sugar. This can lead to more sugar and carbohydrate cravings. In addition, sweeteners are often artificial and therefore not recommended.
Choose spirits. Beer and wine contain too many carbohydrates. Regular use of alcohol inhibits weight loss. Read HERE more about following a ketogenic diet and consuming alcohol.
Herbs and spices