We live in a fast-paced age where everyone is in a constant quest for alternative diets and lifestyles to keep us in shape and help us prevent serious diseases. As people gain a deeper insight into the importance of healthy food intake, more and more options appear to satisfy our specific needs and preferences. When it comes to weight loss and overall wellness, one diet stands out with its rewarding benefits - the ketogenic diet.
Introducing the Ketogenic Diet. This particular route is a low-carb, high-fat diet that comes with many health benefits. According to HealthLine, over 20 studies show that this specific diet will aid you on your path to weight loss and prevent significant diseases such as diabetes, cancer, epilepsy, and Alzheimer’s disease. The work of health professionals like Dr. Valter Longo from the University of Southern California’s Davis School of Gerontology has also shown that low-calorie diets can slow tumor growth and starve cancer cells of the glucose they require for fermentation.
Let’s start off with what a ketogenic diet entails. By choosing this route, you will drastically cut your carbohydrate intake and replace it with fat. According to HealthLine, this reduction in carbs is said to put your body in a metabolic state known as ketosis. In this state, your body will adapt to becoming far more efficient at burning fat for energy, which enhances weight loss, and furthermore, turning fat into ketones in the liver, which becomes a supply of energy for the brain. Through this diet, your blood sugar and insulin levels will decrease, as well as your glucose consumption, and your body’s metabolism will shift away from carbs to fat and ketones instead.
To achieve this, you will need to know what you should and should not consume. According to Diet Doctor, it is recommended to keep your carb intake to under 50 grams per day, as the fewer carbs you eat, the more effective, and you should avoid starchy foods like bread, pasta, rice, and potatoes, which also contain a lot of glucose. What you eat should primarily be high in fat and moderately high in protein. Your meals should be based on meats, fish, eggs, butter and cheeses, nuts and seeds, healthy oils, avocados, and low-carb vegetables. As for what is recommended to drink, water is always a good idea, as well as coffee or tea, ideally without sugar or sweeteners. In what might excite some, an occasional glass of wine is also acceptable.
In this particular diet, there are different options and versions available to you, according to HealthLine. The standard will include a very low-carb, moderate-protein, and high-fat route, which is broken down into 75% fat, 20% protein, and just 5% carbs. For the cyclical option, it divides the week into five ketogenic days, followed by two high-carb days. The targeted option enables you to add carbs around workouts, and lastly, the high-protein option introduces a ratio of 60% fat, 35% protein, and 5% carbs, similar to the typical ketogenic diet. It’s important to know that only the standard and high-protein options have been studied in depth and are the most recommended paths for those looking into this diet.
When it comes to preventing major diseases like cancer, the idea of the ketogenic diet is that cancer cells need glucose to thrive. A review of some of the available scientific research on the topic by The International Journal of Preventative Medicine showed that the studies “indicate that [the Ketogenic Diet] had an inhibitory effect on tumor growth and 9 researchers expressed that [the Ketogenic Diet] could enhance survival time.” This type of research shows that, since carbs turn into glucose in your body, the limitation of carbs will lower your glucose levels, which will deplete cancer cells of their energy source and essentially starve the cancer cells to death.
This can be further justified by a German researcher by the name of Dr. Otto Warburg, who achieved a Nobel Prize for his discoveries about the differences between cancer cells and healthy cells and the discovery that malignant tumors feed on sugar. Evidently, sugar can be detrimental and contributes to other diseases as well, so a diet that introduces a much lower sugar and carb intake would certainly be effective in preventing significant illnesses. It could also help pre-diabetic and diabetic patients. A 2013 review of the therapeutic uses of very-low-carbohydrate (ketogenic) diets by The European Journal of Nutrition showed that a ketogenic diet has a more positive effect on blood sugar control than other diets.
The ketogenic diet is suitable for anyone looking to prevent major diseases and be on top of their weight. Luckily, it happens to be a very filling diet, which allows you to lose weight without keeping track of calories, according to HealthLine. When starting this diet, it’s important to stick to it to avoid bodily shock, as it will work towards changing many aspects of your bodily functions. This is a highly beneficial and rewarding diet for anyone looking to enhance their overall bodily performance and hoping to prevent the health obstacles that could deter a prolonged life.
Please keep in mind that diet alone cannot cure chronic conditions like cancer and diabetes. The data available only suggests that it might help prevent those conditions in some limited, highly controlled cases. And like with any major lifestyle changes, you should consult your doctor before sticking to a new rigorous diet intended for therapeutic purposes.
Carbohydrates are the nutritional basis of many foods, which is why finding adequate foods that count as low-carb may be a tricky task. While there is no one-size-fits-all guideline for different dietary plans, dietitians refer to a low-carb diet when talking about eating plans containing less than 30% of calories that come from carbohydrates.
There are a lot of foods and recipes you can experiment with as a part of your low-carb diet plan. Below, we have listed ten low-carb foods you can feast on while following your keto plan.
1. Leafy greens: Leafy green vegetables, such as spinach, kale, bok choy, arugula, and Swiss chard, are an excellent option for your low-carb diet. Although these foods contain low calorie and carb levels, they are very nutrient-dense and high in fiber, calcium, antioxidants, magnesium, and B vitamins.
2. Tomato: Tomatoes are a great low-carb option for anyone who needs to boost their immune system. They are rich in vitamin C and carotenoids, which can effectively protect your skin against harmful UV rays.
3. Zucchini: As a food rich in potassium and vitamin C, zucchini has many benefits for your immune system and cardiovascular health. Zucchini is a versatile food you can incorporate into your diet in many forms. For example, you can use it in pasta dishes, trying zucchini noodles instead of traditional ones.
4. Strawberries: Berries are small fruits, but they are incredibly rich in nutrients. Strawberry is the type of berry that contains the lowest levels of carbohydrates. This fruit can protect your body against some types of cancer and reduce obesity.
5. Seafood: Most types of seafood count as low-carb foods and have numerous health benefits. For instance, salmon contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation, prevent heart disease, and protect from mood disorders. Another nutritious type of seafood you can incorporate into your diet is tuna. Fresh, frozen, or canned - tuna is rich in proteins and can help your body maintain decent energy levels.
6. Eggs: Eggs are quick to prepare and easy to combine with vegetables and other healthy foods. They are a budget-friendly source of protein, several B vitamins, and immune-supporting nutrients (such as selenium and zinc).
7. Plain Greek yogurt: A study from 2021 proves the beneficial effect of fermented foods like Greek yogurt in decreasing inflammatory markers and increasing microbiome diversity. Additionally, Greek yogurt is a versatile low-carb food that you can pair with strawberries and other fruits for a tasty breakfast or snack.
8. Walnuts: Walnuts are a low-carb food rich in fiber, magnesium, vitamin B6, copper, manganese, and omega-3 fatty acids. All these components bring numerous health benefits to your heart, gut, and cognitive health.
9. Chia seeds: Sprinkling chia seeds on top of your meal is a great way to boost its protein and fiber levels. This superfood is also a source of calcium that can improve your bone health.
10. Avocado oil: While avocado oil is low in carbohydrates, it is full of polyphenol antioxidants and unsaturated fats that help prevent cardiovascular disease.