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What is a keto diet?

Present dietary guidelines tell us we need to adhere to a diet high in carbohydrates:

45-65% carbohydrates
10-35% protein
20-35% fats

Carbohydrates however have an enormous impact on insulin, the hormone responsible for fat storage in our bodies.

Because of this, carbohydrates are directly responsible not only for the rise of obesity but also of diabetes type 2, metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, auto-immune diseases, high cholesterol numbers (instead of the old theory high cholesterol is caused by fats it has now become clear carbodydrates are the cause) and chronic inflammation in the body.

The fast rising number of diabetics type 2 especially makes it necessary to reconsider diet and the role of carbohydrates: in the Netherlands 1 out of 3 present adults will develop diabetes according to the Dutch Diabetes Fund and these numbers are drastically on the rise all over the world.

However, besides glucose, the largest energy source created by carbohydrates, the body is also capable of using ketones for energy. Ketones are the molecules produced by the liver when the body is in a state of ketosis. Ketosis shifts the body away from glucose and toward burning body fat, allowing weight loss AND achieving good health.

In a ketogenic diet the macronutrients are divided as follows:

5-10% carbohydrates
15-30% protein
60-75% fat

Ketosis is achieved by eating between 20-30 grams of net carbs. The high fat macro has a satiating effect which means you will automatically feel the need to eat less. The moderate amount of protein is determined by body composition and activity level and ensures muscle mass preservation.

All combined this will result in a balanced and satiating diet less likely to stimulate the insulin hormone.

But doesn’t our brain need carbohydrates?

A common misconception is that the body, and specifically the brain, needs carbohydrates. However, apart from some basic metabolic functions that need glucose exclusively, our bodies are build to either use glucose OR ketones for energy. And glucose is the less efficient of the two.
As long as you eat sufficient protein the body can produce glucose for those few metabolic functions where it is needed through the process of gluconeogenesis: the transformation of non-carbohydrate sources (such as amino acids from protein and fatty acids from fat) into glucose.

Also keep in mind a keto diet is never completely lacking in carbohydrates: 20-30 grams of net carbs are always included, mainly through healthy green vegetables which are a necessity for variation in your meals and essential miconutrients.