Understanding the Ketogenic Diet: Effect on Weight Loss and Health

by time news

2024-02-12 10:37:11

It is not surprising that pizzas, pasta and donuts do not help you lose weight. But the ketogenic diet also adds potatoes, bread, many types of fruit and even vegetables to the list of prohibited substances. If you follow the keto diet, you almost completely ignore carbohydrates, so that your body switches to fat burning. The latter sounds positive if you want to lose weight, but is it?

This is what happens in your body when you cut out carbohydrates

‘There are two important fuels for our body: carbohydrates and fats,’ explains Hanno Pijl, professor of Diabetology at Leiden University. ‘If you eat very few carbohydrates, you will use fat as an alternative fuel. Ketogens are also formed during fat burning, especially in the liver. This is a kind of by-product of the combustion of fatty acids.’

The term ketogenic diet is therefore derived from the ketogens that your body produces when you stop eating carbohydrates. And this substance can be useful. For example, a ketogenic diet is sometimes prescribed to children with epilepsy who respond poorly to medication. In some patients, a low-carbohydrate and high-fat diet helps to prevent epileptic seizures.

Keto diet = fewer kilos?

But the question remains whether you will also lose weight on a ketogenic diet, says Pijl. ‘If you replace carbohydrates in your diet with fats, but still eat the same number of calories, you will not lose much weight. A ketogenic diet does seem to inhibit appetite somewhat, making it easier to eat less.’

The disadvantages of a ketogenic diet

However, the professor does not necessarily recommend this diet. Why not? If you don’t eat carbohydrates, you will have to get energy from somewhere else. In practice, this often means that you eat a lot of fats. And you guessed it: that’s not very healthy either.

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‘If you eat a lot of saturated fats, your fat profile in the blood can change unfavorably,’ explains Pijl. ‘In addition, you often miss dietary fiber in the long term. These are mainly found in plant products, such as vegetables and fruit, which also contain a lot of carbohydrates. If you really start eating low-carb, you sometimes also eat very little vegetables. That’s not good for your health, that much is clear.’

This is when avoiding carbohydrates does make sense

Are there no benefits at all to a diet with very few carbohydrates? Yes. Pijl says that a keto diet can be effective for people with type 2 diabetes, because it quickly lowers your blood sugar. A ketogenic diet also appears to have anti-inflammatory effects, although there is not yet very hard scientific evidence for this.

Moreover, you don’t have to ban carbohydrates from your life forever. “If you follow the keto diet a few days a month, you probably already have those health benefits,” says Pijl. ‘But as humans we are not designed to eat a very low-carbohydrate diet permanently.’

So just throw those sandwiches and that pack of spaghetti back in your shopping cart. But what about other diet fads? How healthy is the paleo diet? Does intermittent fasting make sense? Or is a Mediterranean diet the way to a healthy body? Or is it better not to diet at all, because it puts your body into a starvation mode?

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