What is the Ketogenic Diet and what are its benefits

The ketogenic diet is the dietary advice that proposes a high intake of good fats, moderate protein, and low or almost zero carbohydrates and sugars.

This form of diet was developed early in the last century as a novel resource for treating diabetes and motor difficulties caused by childhood epilepsy. 

The principle is that this change in eating behavior forces the body to burn fats and lipids instead of carbohydrates to generate energy. Normally the carbohydrates contained in food are converted into glucose, which is then transported to the brain and other parts of the body and consumed as fuel.

The ketogenic diet is a type of diet characterized by eliminating almost all foods rich in carbohydrates, such as bread and rice, and increasing the consumption of foods rich in good fats, besides being important to maintain a good amount of protein in the diet. 

For whom the ketogenic diet is recommended

Historically, the main indication for the ketogenic diet was for patients with epilepsy. However, throughout the 20th century, with the development of anticonvulsant drugs, this indication decreased.

However, this diet has been showing benefits for the treatment of other neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. The explanation lies in a potential neuroprotective effect, which leads to an increase in neuronal plasticity.

In addition, because it promotes fat burning and satiety, the ketogenic diet can be indicated for obese or overweight people. When performed with professional monitoring, it can lead to weight loss in a healthy way. The ketogenic diet can also be recommended for the treatment of people with type 2 diabetes, and it can even reduce the need for antidiabetic drugs.

It promotes weight loss

The carbohydrates ingested in the diet are transformed by the body into glucose (sugar). When eating a high carbohydrate diet, insulin levels are raised after meals to help the cells absorb all the glucose from the blood and restore blood glucose (blood sugar).

However, insulin is a hormone that, in excess, leads to an increase in the storage/accumulation of body fat. 

It is based on this principle that the ketogenic diet works, which restricts the consumption of carbohydrates so that the body uses fat as an energy source – and not carbohydrates.

Thus, the metabolic process called ketosis occurs (it begins when the body adapts to a lower intake of carbohydrates by converting to fat burning for energy.

By consuming low amounts of carbohydrates, insulin levels tend not to increase much and fat storage becomes greatly reduced.

One of the great superpowers of the ketogenic diet is that it is highly effective for rapid weight loss – especially for people who have a lot of weight to lose.

When compared with low-fat diets, it is easy to see that a very low-carb diet can help overweight people to

  • lose weight,
  • maintain muscle mass,
  • improve several of the risk factors for diabetes and heart disease.

Among these factors we can include elevated triglycerides, low HDL, and constantly high blood sugar.

There is simply no denying that a low-carb diet can be an effective treatment for obesity.

How to do the Ketogenic Diet?

The ketogenic diet must be followed by a trained professional. Each person responds differently, and some individual considerations must be followed and observed by the professional who will guide and follow the diet.

Who should not eat this diet

The ketogenic diet is contraindicated for people over 65, children and teenagers, pregnant women and women who are breastfeeding. It should also be avoided by people with an increased risk of ketoacidosis, such as type 1 diabetics, uncontrolled type 2 diabetics, people who are underweight or have a history of liver or kidney diseases, or cardiovascular changes, such as stroke.

This diet is also not recommended for people with gallstones or who are being treated with cortisone medication. In these cases, the ketogenic diet must be authorized by the doctor and followed with the help of a nutritionist.

What impact does the ketogenic diet have on the quality of health?

The ketogenic diet has been used for several years as an aid in the treatment of seizures. Thus, some doctors and health clinics use the ketogenic diet as a form of treatment for epilepsy.

Today, many nutrition professionals specialize in the ketogenic diet to work with patients suffering from seizures, with a greater focus on its application during the treatment of children.

There are other neurological conditions that respond well to the ketogenic diet, such as:

  • Strokes;
  • ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis)
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease;
  • Dementia.

It is important to remember that diets low in carbohydrates can help in these cases. However, this strategy is not yet proven to prevent the neurological conditions themselves.


Ketogenic diets certainly have great positive effects, which go far beyond reducing body fat percentage.

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