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The ketogenic diet and ketosis

So you want to burn fat and lose weight. Sounds simple right? The truth is that it is an issue that so many people struggle with, and it turns out the keto diet can do precisely that without hours of strenuous exercise. The keto diet is short for the ketogenic diet; it works because your purpose for this specific diet is to cut out carbs completely. Then replace them with protein but not only protein high fat is also on order, and this causes your body to react in the form of a metabolic state known as ketosis.

When your body is in ketosis, it can, as some would argue, become much more efficient at burning excess fat for energy. In turn, fat in the liver is transformed into ketones that help supply energy, especially concerning the brain.

Related: How to Get Started With The Ketogenic Diet: Plus The Keto Food Pyramid 

Those who have undertaken ketogenic diets are generally observed to have had massive reductions in blood sugar and insulin levels, along with the increased fat-burning potential and energy, which makes for a large set of positives for anyone considering such a diet.

Is it easy to adjust to a keto diet?

This is no easy diet; the high-fat content goes against practically everything we’re taught should be healthy. Thus, it’s not a simple switch but a hugely difficult one for many of those willing to give it a try. The best way to get started with the ketogenic diet involves many small incremental changes. For instance, you should slowly limit carbs and slowly add high-fat foods to your diet. This way, it won’t be such a shock to your system.

The ketogenic diet is very much like what happens when fasting. The body will use the stored fat for energy, and weight loss can occur drastically. But let’s face it, How many are ready to begin fasting? It’s much easier to go on a ketogenic diet than to start fasting.

Related: Intermittent Fasting: Could it lead to a Healthier Longer Life? Read more.

The bottom line is this: The ketogenic or keto diet is not a viable long-term weight loss strategy. Sure some people may do it for a month or two, or even a few times a year, to lose weight fast, but it’s just not healthy long-term. If you cut out all carbs, all that’s left is protein and fat. How healthy can this be? The answer is not very beneficial. It’s very much like the Atkins craze of times before, likely a fad, but not without short-term potential. You really would be better off with an intermittent fasting-based diet. This way, you are not risking long-term health issues by consuming anything more than protein and fat.

Still, want to learn more about keto? Try The 28 Day Keto shortcut. Click here to learn more.

Criteria for ketogenic foods

To follow a healthy ketogenic diet, you should not only pay attention to carbohydrates. In addition, you should consider other criteria if you want to get all the benefits of the ketogenic diet.

1. the origin of food

The origin of the food is an essential quality factor, as it is the only way to guarantee a high nutritional content.

In the case of vegetables, they must be grown naturally and without chemical fertilizers or preservatives.

What does this look like in concrete terms?

  • Nutrient-rich soil to grow in
  • Enough time and sunlight to grow
  • Natural fertilizers and preservatives for growing

You can find affordable vegetables that meet these criteria at markets. We realize, of course, that many readers do not have this option.

Therefore, you should consciously look for organic labeling in the supermarket. In addition, it is more important for some foods than others to buy products of organic quality. 

It is even more important to pay attention to the breeding and species-appropriate husbandry with animal products. This is important from an ethical point of view and affects the nutritional content.

Criteria for food quality:

  • Free-range eggs
  • Fish from wild catch
  • Meat from pasture farming/hunting

Industrial mass animal husbandry and rearing only work under appalling circumstances. Drugs are used for rapid growth, resulting in the products being tainted with the byproducts afterward.

Concentrated feed is also used, which destroys the products’ fatty acid profile and nutrient content. This plays a significant role, especially in a ketogenic diet that aims for health and energy.

So do yourself and the animals a favor and pay attention to species-appropriate husbandry.

2. food processing

Food processing is a critical step in quality assessment. Is the food processed to such an extent that the nutrient content is reduced? Or, in the worst case, potentially problematic substances are created in the process?

This is a fundamental criterion for oils. Heavily processed vegetable oils contain oxidized fatty acids that lead to chronic inflammation. Therefore, always make sure they are processed cold. Later in the article, you’ll learn which oils are approved for the Ketogenic diet.

But this is also an important quality factor for vegetables. Canned vegetables, for example, are much poorer in essential nutrients than their unprocessed siblings available at the fresh counter. Therefore, buy vegetables either fresh or fermented.

3. consumption of food

The third point is you have complete control, and it does not cost you a cent. It is about the conscious consumption of food. You can only break down all the nutrients in the food and absorb them in your body if you take your time when eating it.

Thorough chewing is vital so that, on the one hand, the meal is mechanically broken down by the teeth, but on the other hand, appropriate enzymes are produced by the body, which prepares the nutrients for absorption.

Therefore, take your time to eat.

But enough of the quality and behavior rules for ketogenic foods. Now you’ll get the list you’ve been waiting for.

Ketogenic diet: food list

You will find the essential foods for a ketogenic diet in this list. We ensured that you could find most of the foods in the supermarket.

However, since we place a high value on food quality, one or the other is only available in a selected organic market.

1. important vegetables

Vegetables contain essential fiber, vitamins, minerals, and secondary plant compounds. Therefore, it has a high value in a healthy diet and is vital for our digestive system.

Allowed vegetables:

Spinach, cucumber, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, Brussels sprouts, Chinese cabbage, fennel, kale, celeriac, radishes, asparagus, savoy cabbage, avocado, bitter greens, bok choy, celery, chard, endive, kohlrabi, lettuce, nori, olives, summer squash, artichoke.

Recommendation: on a ketogenic diet, you should focus on low-starch vegetables. However, there is nothing wrong with eating sweet potato, squash, or beet now and then.

2. healthy fat

Healthy fat is the primary energy source in a ketogenic diet. Approximately 70-80% of all calories should come from this category.

Allowed fat:

Coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, MCT oil, caprylic acid, fish oil, krill oil, cod liver oil, pasture-raised butter, pasture-raised ghee, sunflower lecithin, almond paste, cocoa butter, pasture-raised lard (non-hydrogenated), egg yolk.

Watch for these ten ketosis signs:
1. bad breath
Bad breath is an unmistakable sign of ketosis. Many people who start a ketogenic diet or follow a low carb diet like Atkins notice that their breath suddenly smells fruitier. This is due to increased ketone levels, or more specifically, acetone, a ketone found in breath and urine. Bad breath is not pleasant, but you can help yourself by chewing sugarless gum and brushing your teeth more often. After a while, your breath will return to normal.

2. weight loss
Like other low-carb diets, A ketogenic diet leads to effective weight loss. Especially in the first few weeks, the pounds will melt away quickly. However, these are not melting fat deposits – the body is now breaking down carbohydrates and water. Once this process is complete, you will lose weight more slowly but steadily, as long as you continue to follow the diet.

3. more ketones in the blood
The ketogenic diet lowers blood sugar levels while increasing ketone levels. To determine if ketosis is already in full swing for you, you can use a special meter. This measures the beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) level in your blood, one of the primary ketones. This should be between 0.5 and 3.0 mmol/l. Test strips (actually for diabetics) are available at pharmacies or on the Internet.

4. more ketones in breath or urine
The ketone level can be determined via the blood and with a breath sample – another unmistakable sign of ketosis. As mentioned in point 1, acetone levels increase as ketosis progresses, causing bad breath. Acetone levels can be checked with a breath testing device (Breathalyzer), but this method is considered less reliable than blood testing. Alternatively, test strips for a urine sample are also an option.

5. loss of appetite
In ketosis, the body feels less appetite. Why this is so, science has not yet been able to clarify, but it is suspected that the satiating diet with more protein and vegetables and changes in hormone levels.

6. more energy and higher concentration
At the beginning of a ketogenic diet, many people feel tired, exhausted, and mentally paralyzed. This condition is also known as the “keto flu.” Once this “flu” is overcome and ketosis has occurred, the brain gets its energy from ketones instead of glucose. Ketones are an excellent energy source that improves brain function in the long run. Medical studies have shown that ketones are effective for concussions and memory loss, among other things. Therefore, you’ll feel highly focused and mentally energized after the initial fatigue.

7. fatigue
As mentioned in point 6, keto flu often occurs during the transition. You feel tired and listless because your body takes a while to adjust to the new energy source of ketones. It can be a good idea to support your body with extra electrolytes during this time. These are lost to it due to dehydration.

8. less physical performance
The keto flu does not only affect the brain. At first, the body also suffers from the change because it is no longer supplied with a familiar energy. During this time, you may find that you can’t perform the athletic feats you’re used to. But don’t worry. After a while, your body will have adjusted, and you will feel the benefits of the ketogenic diet. So you’ll burn more fat while exercising. One study showed that athletes on a ketogenic diet burned up to 230% times more fat than others.

9. digestive problems
A significant dietary change is always tricky for the gastrointestinal tract to handle at first. The ketogenic diet makes no difference, so that you may suffer from diarrhea or constipation. But, after a while, the change is made, and the intestinal activity returns to normal. Make sure to eat as many fresh vegetables as possible: They contain few carbohydrates and provide you with important fiber.

10. insomnia
The drastic reduction of carbohydrates leads to insomnia in many people. This is also (unfortunately) a typical sign of ketosis. However, after a few weeks, you should generally sleep again. Some people who follow a ketogenic diet for a longer time even sleep better.

Endogenous ketones or ketone bodies are metabolic products. The body gains the energy to supply the brain, the organs as a whole, or the muscles during the phase of fat metabolism, ketosis (i.e., during “sugar deficiency”). The ketone bodies naturally produced during ketosis are called endogenous ketones. Endogenous because the body itself creates them.

Exogenous ketones are ketone bodies supplied to the body from outside, for example, in dietary supplements. Exogenous ketones do not cause ketosis but promote beneficial effects like the ketogenic diet.

Exogenous ketones as ketone esters and ketone salts
Strictly speaking, two different chemical forms of exogenous ketones are offered as dietary supplements: Ketone salts and ketone esters. Both forms contain the most stable ketone body as the effective substance. This is beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB).

Ketone esters consist of a ketone body bound to a ketone precursor such as butanediol and glycol. Ketone esters are currently used primarily in elite sports. They are said to supply the muscles with energy, particularly long and effectively. At present, only a few keto drinks with ketone esters are on the market. On the one hand, this is probably due to the high price. On the other hand, the available preparations taste strongly of solvents.

Ketone salts bind the ketone body beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) to a mineral. This is usually sodium, calcium, or magnesium. Supplements with ketone salts are usually powders dissolved in water and drunk. The exogenous ketones in Orthoformula’s offer bind beta-hydroxybutyrate in a particularly balanced combination of sodium, calcium and magnesium. The proportion of sodium is slightly higher, as sodium-bound ketones enter the bloodstream quickly. Calcium and magnesium are absorbed more slowly, contributing to sustained ketone utilization.

Are exogenous ketones necessary for ketosis?
No. Ketogenic nutrition sooner or later leads to ketosis, i.e., fat metabolism. In this process, endogenous ketones develop their favorable properties. However, to maintain the production of endogenous ketones, the diet must remain consistently ketogenic and thus as high in fat as it is low in carbohydrates. Especially with the omission of carbohydrates, not all people find it equally easy.

Exogenous ketones: Without a ketogenic diet in ketosis
Therefore, exogenous ketones in supplements are a good choice if you are still changing your diet or find it challenging to give up carbohydrates. Exogenous ketones are also an ideal supplement if you are on a ketogenic diet. Finally, with exogenous ketones, you can also achieve the effects of ketosis without changing your diet.

What brings you into ketosis?
You can always consume the following foods on a ketogenic diet. However, especially if you want to lose weight, you should – as with all other diets – make sure that you do not take in more energy (calories) than you consume.

In general, we recommend foods with a carbohydrate content of less than 10 percent, i.e., less than 10 grams per 100 grams. You can find many databases on the Internet to research the nutrient content of foods. But for now, here is a wide selection of foods suitable for the ketogenic diet.

Tips and foods for ketogenic diet
Fish & Seafood: the oilier, the better: dorado, shrimp, God salmon, scallops, angelfish, salmon, (salmon) trout, mackerel, mussels, sardines, anchovies, hake, tuna, squid.

Meat & Meat Products: Optimally, buy meat from grass-fed animals, i.e., chicken, lamb, beef, pork, bacon, turkey, venison, or offal. You can eat the fat and skin as well. Also suitable for ketogenic diets are sausages made with meat and spices. However, avoid fillers such as gluten, soy, sugar, or rusk. Dried or cured meats should contain as little sugar and chemical additives as possible.

Nuts: Contrary to popular belief, not all nuts and seeds are suitable for ketogenic diets. Hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, pecans, pine nuts, and walnuts are recommended.

Seeds: Chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds

Eggs: You can eat as many eggs as you want. Organic eggs are best, of course!
Dairy products: Only full-fat products! However, if you want to lose weight through ketosis, you should avoid dairy products—an exception: unsalted butter. Otherwise, blue cheese, butter, feta cheese, cream cheese, high-fat cheeses, Parmesan cheese, cream, and cottage cheese are suitable for the ketogenic diet. The full-fat varieties are recommended for all these products, while light products are not, as they contain less fat and more additives.

Flour & baking ingredients: Hazelnut flour, coconut flour, shredded coconut, almond flour, psyllium husks, pumpkin seed flour, guar gum, or locust bean gum. Potato fiber, gelatin, apple pectin, or agar-agar can replace classic binders. However, do not directly replace flours in recipes 1:1 with ketogenic varieties, as they behave differently. Experience shows that the dough becomes too dry and therefore needs more liquid. You can add the beverage of your choice, for example, water, almond milk, or green tea.

Spices & herbs: (Sea) salt, bell pepper, basil, chili powder, curry, cumin, oregano, thyme, rosemary, sage, turmeric, parsley, coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, ginger, cardamom, paprika, dill.

Fats & Oils: Prefer pure, cold-pressed, high-quality oils and avoid cheap vegetable products that often contain impurities. Avocado oil, drippings, butter, duck lard, extra virgin olive oil, ghee, coconut cream, coconut milk, coconut oil (MCT oil), macadamia nut oil, beef tallow, cream, lard, animal fats, homemade mayonnaise (from the above oils).

Vegetables: artichokes, eggplant, lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli, garden squash, cucumbers, green beans, kale, cabbage, cabbage in general, lettuce, olives, peppers, mushrooms, radishes, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, spinach, tomatoes, zucchini, snow peas, onions

Fruits: blueberries, cantaloupe melon, cranberries, strawberries, grapefruit, raspberries, blueberries, currants, papaya, blackberries, gooseberries, lemons, limes, coconuts

Drinks: water, sparkling mineral water, unsweetened tea except for sweeteners like erythritol, stevia, xylitol, herbal tea, unsweetened coffee, cucumber water, coconut milk, nut, and almond drinks, Bulletproof Coffee, lemon and lime juice, vegetable and meat broth.

Especially valuable for ketonic nutrition and ketosis: coconut oil (MCT oil).
In the context of the ketogenic diet, the food coconut oil plays a special role. It belongs to the so-called MCT oils. MCT stands for medium-chain triglycerides. These are saturated fatty acids. Because their carbon chains are short and their unique structure, the fatty acids from MCT oils can be absorbed particularly well by the organism and converted into energy in the cell power plants, the mitochondria. Another advantage is their water solubility. In addition, MCT oils do not require bile for digestion – and the pancreas is not activated (thus, no insulin is released). In this respect, MCT oils fit very well with the effect of exogenous ketones and ketogenic diets.

Most of all, the brain benefits from this excellent energy supplier because it consists mainly of fat and depends on the supply of good fatty acids. So ideally, you should make sure that your MCT oil contains the biologically most effective fatty acids, caprylic acid (C8) and capric acid (C10).

The recommended intake of MCT oils
MCT coconut oils taste largely neutral and can be stirred into coffee (Bulletproof Coffee), tea, or hot water very well in the morning. They are also suitable for other purposes, such as a salad dressing. Many people on a ketogenic diet take MCT oils straight. If you want to try this: start with a teaspoon of oil in the morning. Then, depending on your stomach and intestines tolerance, you can increase to 2 tablespoons per day.

Drinks with MCT oils make you feel full and stimulate fat metabolism. This is because the fatty acids support the synthesis of ketone bodies. In addition, MCT drinks in the morning make it easier for you to skip breakfast, for example, which avoids the intake of carbohydrates.

Want a structured keto plan that takes all the hard work out of the picture? Read more about the keto shortcut here


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The keto diet – How it works and what it’s all about: Is this a healthy diet?
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