What is Keto Diet ?

The ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet that deviates from human consumption patterns and recommendations for the general population.

The principle of the ketogenic diet is simple: by reducing the carbohydrate intake, our body will draw on our fats for energy.

In the ketogenic diet, we are talking about 70 to 80% fat, 20 to 25% protein and 5 to 10% carbohydrates (20 to 50 grams of carbohydrates per day).

The person following a ketogenic diet will have to exclude almost completely from his or her diet foods rich in carbohydrates (less than 50g per day) such as cereal products (bread, pasta, cereals, etc.), starchy foods, legumes, products containing added sugar (biscuits, pastries) as well as fruits and many vegetables that are too “sweet”.

The menu will include meat, fish, seafood, eggs, nuts, high-fat plain yogurt, dairy products, vegetable oils and leafy greens.

This type of diet restricts carbohydrates to force the body to use lipids as an energy source, make ketones (acetoacetate, beta-hydroxybutyrate) and thus achieve ketosis (when the body mainly uses ketones as an energy source).

Our liver will then produce acetone and acetylacetate which will be transformed into ketone bodies. The fat thus metabolized creates what is called a state of “nutritional ketosis”. Fats thus become our main source of energy.

Ketosis has therapeutic effects: apart from epilepsy, it could be useful against diabetes; it is also being tested to treat certain cancers and neurodegenerative diseases (Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s). The mechanisms of action are not yet elucidated.

For the little Story

At the time of ancient Rome, it was considered that epileptics were inhabited by the devil. They were therefore locked in a room for a few days without food, and the patients were improved. Over the course of the centuries, fasting became a method of treating epilepsy, with its disadvantages: a patient cannot be starved to death in order to cure him or her permanently.

In 1921 the American physician Russell Wilder tried to reduce or even eliminate seizures in children with epilepsy without fasting. He found that a high-fat diet leads to the production of ketone bodies as in fasting. And so the diet was used successfully in this indication until the development of epilepsy drugs in the late 1940s.

The ketogenic diet experienced a resurgence of interest in the 1990s, particularly in the treatment of children who remained refractory to epilepsy drugs. Today there are more applications of this diet and more studies are being conducted.

What does the research say ?

The ketogenic diet is a strict version of the Atkins (low carb) diet. Since Atkins is a weight-loss diet, it is natural to think that the ketogenic diet, despite its fat content, is also effective for weight loss.

Numerous studies have been carried out with obese or overweight people. In one study, researchers found a loss of 7 kg in 4 weeks and then 5 kg 8 weeks later. They followed the diet for a year and decreased their body mass index by about 5 points.

A 2013 meta-analysis concluded that ketogenic diets are more effective than low-fat diets for weight loss.

How it works ?

How do you explain that a high-fat diet makes you lose weight? In fact, it is not well known and several hypotheses have been put forward:

  • decreased appetite due to diet-induced changes in satiety hormones or direct effects of ketones...
  • increased energy expenditure to continue producing glucose from protein through a metabolic process called gluconeogenesis
  • reduction of insulin and thus of energy storage in the form of body fat, and on the contrary use of body fat.