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Keto diet

Is the Keto diet the long-awaited magic way to effortlessly get rid of fat while maintaining muscle, improving athletic performance, well-being and overall health?

Is that really the case? Are there side effects and contraindications to a ketogenic diet, and what should be considered before starting it?


What is the Keto diet and what is the pseudo Keto diet?

Only a diet that causes an increase in blood ketone levels can be called a ketogenic diet. Since a wide variety of keto pseudo diets, pills, etc. supporters do not control blood levels of ketones - they are more likely to believe that they are on a keto diet, but are actually spending money on something else.

What is the Keto Diet? It is a very low carb diet that provides a limited carbohydrates (up to 5% of total daily calories), normal protein and high fat intake, leading to a metabolic state called ketosis, which means fat ingested.


Physiology - How the Keto Diet Works

Following a normal diet of carbohydrates, which provide up to 60% of daily energy, the body receives almost all of its energy from the end product of glucose, a breakdown of carbohydrates.

The energy systems of the cells in all organs are adapted to work directly with glucose, which easily and quickly supplies the cells with the energy they need, but some organs can only get energy from glucose - such as the liver.

But what happens if your blood sugar gets low - for example, you haven't eaten in a long time and all your glucose reserves are depleted? In these cases, the body begins to use the fat, breaking it down into ketones (hence the name of the diet) - short fragments of fat molecules that contain beta-oxybutyric acid, acetic acid and acetone. As you can see, two of the three ketones are acids - remember to read this below.

Ketones are distributed throughout the body and are absorbed into cells (except liver cells, as they are unable to extract energy from ketones) and provide even more energy per unit mass than glucose.


Where is the problem?

First of all, ketones are acids. And an increase in their concentration in the blood changes the balance of acids and alkalis. In healthy adults, blood pH is unlikely to change to a critical level, but children or people with diabetes, for example, have a high chance of developing acidosis, an acidification of the blood caused by high levels of ketones.

Second, the reception of energy from ketones is chemically very different from that with glucose and under normal conditions this process is very rarely activated, the enzymes required are few.


Ketogenic diet and overweight

On the one hand, everything looks very optimistic - several publications and studies confirm the effectiveness of a ketogenic diet in obesity - losing fat while maintaining muscle mass, which is difficult to achieve with classic diets.

On the other hand, it is clearly stated that the Keto diet is a treatment for obesity and should be used in the same way as any other medicine to control the condition and only under continuous medical supervision.

Renal health should be monitored regularly. A precise and gradual transition to a keto diet and a return to the traditional diet are very important. The duration of a keto diet can range from two weeks to a year (usually a strict limit on carbohydrate intake - less than 5% of daily calories - is set for a limited period of time, alternating with several months of "relief").


Ketogenic diet and diseases

When the keto diet first appeared (in 1920), it gained popularity as an effective means of reducing epilepsy. It is still used as an adjunct in the treatment of epilepsy, which is difficult to treat with drug therapy, although the way this method works at the molecular level is not fully understood.

In patients with type 2 diabetes (non-insulin dependent), this diet has been shown to be an effective and fairly safe method of losing weight and controlling blood glucose levels.

Read about the use of the keto diet in the treatment of various diseases.


Keto Diet Side Effects

The ketogenic diet is not the most physiological diet, as it significantly changes your metabolism, making it work in a "backup" mode, which is very rarely used in a normal diet. Therefore, various unpleasant sensations, especially when switching to a diet (introducing yourself into a state of ketosis) and vice versa, are quite common. The most common are headaches, nausea, vomiting, upset stomach and back pain.

Disorders of mineral and fat metabolism, formation of kidney stones, metabolic acidosis (changes in blood pH to the acidic side). In children and people with impaired insulin sensitivity, acidosis can reach critical levels, leading to coma.

The full list of contraindications can be found here.


Do you really need a ketogenic diet

The keto diet is really more effective than a simple calorie restriction, helping to reduce body fat without losing muscle - but it is also very dangerous to your health, so should definitely not be self-employed. As I said, if you want to take a risk, then only under the supervision of a doctor with constant health monitoring.

Before changing your diet, you need to make sure that you are fine with your fat metabolism. Entry into and exit from the diet should be gradual, with close monitoring of well-being and regular monitoring of blood glucose and ketone bodies, possibly up to three times a day. During the diet it is important to drink plenty of water, eat vegetables, take vitamins and minerals.

Remember, "paper tolerates everything" - If you are offered a keto diet or ketogenic products, it is very likely that the name is the only link to the keto diet.

If you really want to play with your health, first try to exclude fast carbohydrates (fruit, juices, sweetened carbonated drinks, sweets, biscuits, cakes, buns… and all other sugary products) from your diet. You are more likely to lose weight and find out what it's like to live by limiting carbohydrate intake.

Exercise, eat delicious and be healthy!


In addition to reading

Ketogenic diet for obesity - friend or foe? 

What are Ketones? 

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