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Keto Diet: What Low Carb High Fat Means For Your Body

No bread, no pasta and no sweets - lots of good fats instead. With the Low-Carb-High-Fat-Principle (LCHF) only a few carbohydrates and proteins are on the menu; instead, foods such as butter, bacon and coconut oil are the main players in the kitchen.

According to a 2017 study by Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE), a high-fat diet has a positive effect on lifespan and heart. But which processes are actually activated in your body by the keto nutrition principle?

What is the concept of keto?

Enjoyment without regrets: Anyone who hears about LCHF may initially think they are in the culinary land of milk and honey, but that is not entirely correct. Excessive feasting in burger stalls and the like is by no means included in this form of nutrition, instead the focus is on a well thought-out menu.

The goal of a high-fat and low-carbohydrate diet is to get your metabolism going. The body actually gets its strength from sugar and carbohydrates, which it converts into glucose. Fett is not until later. With the keto principle, this process is tricked: If only a few carbohydrates and sugar are supplied, the metabolism switches to ketosis. The liver then forms a glucose substitute, the ketones, from fat.

Due to the low intake of carbohydrates, the body now draws almost all of its energy from the metabolism of fat. But that's not all: Since the insulin level in the blood is low with the ketogenic diet, not only are fats from the food processed, but body fat reserves are also tapped. The low blood sugar level also prevents food cravings.

Keto Diet: Yes or No?

Proponents of the low-carb-high-fat principle are certain: this way of life brings health benefits with it. Science partly agrees with them. In 2004 a study by the University of Kuwait came to the conclusion that a ketogenic lifestyle leads to weight loss and lowering blood sugar levels. In addition, LCHF can also act on a neurological basis. According to researchers at the University of California, eating a low-carb diet can reduce inflammatory responses in the brain.

But every beginning is difficult - newcomers to the LCHF principle should notice that right at the beginning. Avoiding carbohydrates can lead to headaches, concentration problems or even flu-like symptoms in the first few days. Weight loss is usually rapid within the first week. The reason: The body dehydrates because it breaks down glucose stores (glycogen). Glycogen binds water, which is lost when switching to keto and with it a few kilos. By the second week the body should get used to using fat as a source of energy and adapt its processes accordingly.

Still, “low-carb and keto concepts are not for everyone, so it's important to listen to your own body,” explains New York nutrition expert Alissa Rumsey on Still feeling worse than before, you should stop and see if it's right for you. "

How Does Low Carb High Fat Work?

In order to achieve the state of ketosis, the nutrition plan should include the following foods:

  • Meat: red meat, steak, ham, bacon, chicken, and turkey
  • Fish: salmon, trout, tuna, mackerel
  • Dairy products: butter, cream, cheese
  • Eggs
  • Nuts & seeds: walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds
  • Vegetables (low in carbohydrates): green vegetables, tomatoes, onions and avocado
  • healthy oils: virgin olive oil, coconut oil, and avocado oil

But the division of the food also plays a decisive role:

  • Reduce the carbohydrates to 20 g
  • Reduce the protein content to 1 g protein per kilogram of body weight and day
  • Eat enough fat
  • Avoid snacks between meals

After about two weeks, the body should be in ketosis mode. This can be measured, for example, with urine test strips from the pharmacy. The discoloration of the strip indicates the presence of the ketone acetoacetic acid: the darker, the stronger the ketosis.

Keto Diet: A Controversial Concept

If there is no medical need, however, giving up carbohydrates in favor of fat is still controversial. Experts criticize the imbalance of LCHF. Professor Georg Wechsler from the Federal Association of German Nutritionists advises trying such a change in diet, if at all, only under strict medical supervision, as a high-fat diet can lead to deposits in the blood vessels. In addition, the keto diet increases uric acid production. "This means there is an increased risk of developing gout," said the specialist in internal medicine in an interview with the Süddeutsche Zeitung.