Ketogenic Diet: A Complete Guide

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We suggest that you thoroughly study the low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet and its three options: a standard, cyclic and targeted ketogenic diet. This manual includes detailed instructions for preparing a nutrition plan and a formula for calculating nutrient requirements.

The history of the ketogenic diet has been around for several decades, and during this period, it was able to collect a lot of ardent supporters in the subculture of bodybuilding. In general, the ketogenic diet and its variants are diets enriched with fats and proteins with an extremely low carbohydrate content (usually less than 10% of the total number of macronutrients); with such nutrition, the body is forced to use fats as fuel, because glucose stores are rapidly depleted.

For many, a ketogenic diet can prove to be an effective and very correct way to achieve your goals, be it building muscle, burning fat, developing strength indicators, and so on. And although the ketogenic diet is used primarily for fitness and wellness purposes, it is also used in complex epilepsy treatment algorithms.

You may ask: "And how does a ketogenic diet differ from any other low-carbohydrate diet?" In truth, there are not many differences. Many believe that the most effective such a system of nutrition becomes at the moment when the body goes into a state called "ketosis" and begins to synthesize ketones for the subsequent generation of energy (hence the name of the diet is "ketogenic"), and this transition is possible only under condition strict restriction of carbohydrate intake. However, this view of the problem is short-sighted, and later we will certainly touch on this issue.

In the proposed manual we will study in detail the physiological processes that underlie the ketogenic diet, look at the existing types / variants of ketogenic diets, learn how to make your own diet and give some simple tips how to awaken the appetite for low-carb products. And, of course, we will answer the most common questions.

As it was said before, the ketogenic diet got its name due to the fact that the restriction of carbohydrate intake peculiar to this food system can translate the organism into a state of ketosis – a special physiological state, in which the concentration of ketone bodies increases.

Ketone bodies are organic biomolecules that are soluble in aqueous media, which are synthesized in the liver from fatty acids with a decrease in food intake (especially carbohydrate). After transport to extrahepatic tissues, these biomolecules can be used as an energy source.

In small amounts, ketone bodies are synthesized in the human body constantly, but normally the ketone concentration is so small that they are not detected in urine analysis. However, when the level of ketone bodies in the blood grows (the condition is known as ketonomy), they begin to excrete with urine (so-called ketonuria); ketonemia and ketonuria taken together indicate the transition of the body to a state of ketosis.

Therefore, the goal of the ketogenic diet is to translate the organism into a state of food ketosis (not to be confused with pathological ketosis), which ultimately directs the metabolism to the use of fatty acids and ketone bodies as the main source of energy.

The main variants of the ketogenic diet

Within the framework of this guide, we will study three main variants of a ketogenic diet: a standard ketogenic diet (SKD), a cyclic ketogenic diet (DKD), and a targeted ketogenic diet (TCD). The type of diet you need is selected exclusively by trial and error and is largely determined by the priority goals (more details below in the text).

Standard ketogenic diet Is the simplest, basic variant of a ketogenic diet. SKD does not involve periods of replenishment of carbohydrate stores, as required by CDC and TCD. Before us is a linear diet, which is characterized by a steady influx of ketogenic nutrients (moderate or high protein intake, high amounts of fat and an extremely low intake of carbohydrates).

Cyclic ketogenic diet Is a variant of the food system, suggesting short carbohydrate periods in order to replenish muscle glycogen reserves after complete depletion of body reserves. The length of intervals between carbohydrate loads will vary depending on the person's preferences, intensity of training and tasks.

Target ketogenic diet – this is the final version of the power system of interest to us. TKD is characterized by a short-term intake of carbohydrates during the training window. The task of the TCD is to fill the body with glucose to improve physical performance, which will not lead to suppression of ketosis in the long term.

On your choice of type of diet will affect many factors. Beginning is recommended from the "run-in period" using a standard ketogenic diet. In a few weeks of such a break-in, you will be able to assess how the body reacts to changes in the diet, how your physical performance is changing, and how energetic you are. After that, it will be easier for you to decide which diet should be used at a long distance.

Also, you may have doubts about which option is better for losing weight, and which one is ideal for levying muscle mass. It should be said that if the total energy value of your diet meets the objectives, the variant of the ketogenic diet will not become a key factor on the way to achieving the goal. You may find the opinion that CCD or TCD is better suited for people who want to gain muscle mass, as carbohydrates save protein and stimulate insulin secretion, and standard CD is the ideal choice for those who want to lose weight, as insulin synthesis will be relatively low. However, these short-term fluctuations in the secretion of insulin at a long distance will not be a decisive factor, in contrast to the total caloric content of the diet.

Next, we offer a brief overview of the factors that should be considered when choosing a variant of the ketogenic diet:

SKD. Ideal for people who lead a sedentary lifestyle, and whose physical performance does not suffer from a sharp restriction of carbohydrate intake. Also SKD will be an excellent choice for people who train not too intensively and are highly insulin resistant.

TCD. If you train up to the seventh sweat several times a week and notice that your performance worsens with prolonged restriction of carbohydrate food, it is advisable to think about using short periods of carbohydrate loading before and, probably, after training sessions. In addition, TKD will be a good choice for people with great training experience, which can benefit from a small influx of carbohydrates, but will not benefit from copious carbohydrate loading.

CDS. Cyclic CD often is called the "most advanced" of all variants of ketogenic diets. The CCD requires a person to patiently overcome the trial and error stage, during which the optimal period between carbohydrate loads is searched, and the amount of carbohydrates needed on boot days is determined. If you consider yourself an experienced athlete, actively train all week long and even against the background of SKD or TKD note the decline in efficiency, then think about CDC. Perhaps, this option will help you to return to work at maximum speed.

Making your own ketogenic diet

In this section, we will talk about how to determine the body's energy needs and macronutrients, these figures will become your basic reference points in the design of the ACS diet. People who make a choice in favor of CDC or TKD will also have to use basic calculations for ACS, but with minor adjustments, which I will discuss later.

In general, it can be said that anyone who wants to lose weight should adhere to the golden rule of the daily deficit in 500 calories, and whoever wants to gain muscle mass should achieve excess in the same 500 calories. However, this is too gross a generalization without taking into account physiological features and other factors. In addition, if you choose the CCD for yourself, you will most likely have to adjust the calorie content of the diet within one week.

Here is an example of how to calculate the consumption of macronutrients for ACS:

Thus, in combination in the daily diet of this person will be 150 grams of protein, 30 grams of carbohydrates and 142 grams of fat. Distribute this amount between meals.

An example of a nutrition plan with 3 meals:

An example of a nutrition plan with 5 meals:

Choosing products for a ketogenic diet

In the ketogenic diet, strict rules do not exist, as there are no permitted and forbidden products. Many believe that it is generally impossible to include the main sources of starch and sugar in the diet, since this will prevent the transfer of metabolism into a state of ketosis, but in negligible quantities such products are unlikely to become a hindrance, especially for large people.

A good choice for a ketogenic diet will be the following products:

  • Protein of animal origin (especially red meat)

During the loading phase of the ketogenic diet, do not limit yourself and include more sources of starch and sugars, such as fruit, in the diet.

Now let's see how you should integrate carbohydrates into the cyclic version of the ketogenic diet.

Those who choose CDD should start with carbohydrate loading once a week, and then, as necessary, change the time interval between boot days in accordance with their individual needs. Prepare for the fact that you will have to conduct a lot of experiments, during which you will assess how many carbohydrates you ate on a boot day, and how you feel in the days that follow.

The main thing that should be remembered at the time of carbohydrate loading is a reduction in fat intake; Do not continue to eat fat in impressive portions on boot days. But the consumption of protein leave at the same level (or even increase to maintain total caloric value).

Using the needs of macronutrients of the previously mentioned 75-kg human, we will give the basic recommendations of the tangential configuration of the CCD with one loading day depending on the individual sensitivity to insulin / tolerance to carbohydrates:

  • Need for protein 2 g / kg dry weight: 150 g / day

An example of CCD for people with normal insulin sensitivity and dry weight of body 75 kg, adhering to the restrictive diet in 2000 calories:

  • Monday – Saturday: nutrient intake must match the previously calculated need for ACS

Now let's see how to integrate carbohydrates into the targeted version of the ketogenic diet (in our example before and after training).

As in the case of CDD, when starting TKD, first evaluate how your body reacts to these or other amounts of carbohydrates, and determine for yourself the optimal time for their intake. Remember, by observing the TKD, you must take sufficient amount of carbohydrates for optimal performance, but do not abuse them. The CCD assumes the existence of periods of replenishment of glycogen stores, while the TCD has only a short-term increase in energy and efficiency for its purpose.

Therefore, if an athlete intensively trains 5 days a week, he must consume carbohydrates before and / or after training on these training days. In the remaining days, the intake of nutrients should correspond to the calculations for the ACS.

Calculating the nutrient requirements during the TCD is, in fact, no different from ACS, we just add carbohydrates to the "near-training" meal on training days. As an illustration of how to plan a training carbohydrate intake for TCD, we suggest using recommendations for the same 75 kg of the athlete who is in the drying phase, receives 2000 calories daily and has a certain sensitivity to insulin / tolerance to carbohydrates:

  • Need for protein 2 g / kg dry weight: 150 g / day

"Overtraining" food intake precedes the training session or follows after its completion. This means that you can randomly distribute "additional" carbohydrates, the main thing is that they are all eaten within the training window. In general it is recommended to simply divide the total amount in half and eat them before and after training.

An example of a diet with a five-meal TCD (on a training day) for a person with 75 kg of dry weight and high sensitivity to insulin, which is on the 3000-calorie diet per weight:

Keep in mind that the recommendations above regarding the consumption of carbohydrates in a cyclic and targeted ketogenic diet are just a starting point. It is impossible to develop a comprehensive and optimal diet that meets the needs of everyone who reads this article, since there are many factors to consider.

For this reason, as mentioned earlier, when mastering such advanced variants of ketogenic diets as TKD and CCD, you should be careful, scrupulous and open to experimentation. To find out what is best for your body, you will be in the process. Always listen to your body and be ready to make the adjustments that they require.

If you eat 30 g of carbohydrates per day and feel great in the gym, stick to this strategy; if you are comfortable with two days of carbohydrate loading per week, so do. The carbohydrate requirements recommended in this manual have been obtained by experience, not through scrupulous scientific research, and you can safely tailor them to the individual needs of your body.

And the last advice, especially relevant for the TKD. You should reduce the proportion of fats in meals that contain a lot of carbohydrates. This does not mean that you should not get fats with a training camp, you just have to eat balanced and distribute the lion's share of fat between the remaining meals.

Opinion on the role of saturated fats in the ketogenic diet

Beginning of a ketogenic diet will inevitably lead to an increase in your diet of saturated fat, but this does not mean that you have to rely entirely on saturated fats and ignore the consumption of polyunsaturated fats.

Around of what amount of saturated fats in the ketogenic diet is considered excessive, there are lively discussions. Many people who have tried a ketogenic diet insist on impressive portions of products such as butter, fatty red meat, fatty dairy products, etc.

Saturated fats are related to the production of sex hormones (androgens) in the body of men, and therefore a sharp reduction in their consumption can hardly be called a good idea. However, the constant abuse of saturated fats can lead to an increase in insulin resistance and other metabolic disorders, so that the loading of the body with these nutrients is also not included in our plans.

In my opinion, against the background of a ketogenic diet, you can raise the proportion of saturated fats in the diet to 20-30% of the total amount of fats without any fear. That is, if a person receives 150 g fat daily with food, he should try to limit the amount of saturated fats 30-45 in grams per day.

Question: Can I include the main sources of carbohydrates in the menu of a ketogenic diet?

Answer: Some adherents of a ketogenic diet categorically assert that the basic carbohydrate products should be completely excluded. However, in the case of large people who can eat more carbohydrates and still remain in a state of ketosis, you can resolve the "inaccuracies" in the diet in the form of cereals, cereals, fruits and starchy vegetables.

Question: Is it possible during the ketogenic diet to eat more protein and less fat?

Answer: Yes, but bear in mind that consuming too large doses of protein will simply lead to an increase in gluconeogenesis in the liver, which in turn will again make glucose the main source of fuel.

Question: Do I need to use test strips to determine ketone bodies to make sure that the body has switched to ketosis? Should I even care if I reached this state or not?

Answer: Do not attach too much importance to the presence of ketone bodies in the urine and the formal state of "ketosis". While you get very few carbohydrates with food, you will use fats and ketones for the lion's share of the energy needs of the body.

Question: Can I use artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes during a ketogenic diet?

Answer: In most cases, yes. But remember that some sugar substitutes in small quantities contain fillers in the form of maltodextrin and dextrose, and if you are too addicted to sweeteners, the amount of these fillers in your diet can grow to menacing proportions.

Question: Is a ketogenic diet safe for people with high cholesterol?

Answer: In general, it is safe, especially if most of the fats are from unsaturated sources. However, if you have chronic diseases, it is advisable to ask this question to your treating doctor, and only after his blessing to sit down on a ketogenic diet.

Question: Are the vegetable fibers taken into account in the total caloric content of the diet?

Answer: On the labels of food products, plant fibers are not included in the number of "pure carbohydrates". However, vegetable fibers, like any nutrient, contain calories.

Question: After high-carbohydrate dishes (during carbohydrate loading), my stomach swells and I fall into a drowsy condition. How to be?

Answer: You can try to increase the multiplicity of meals and distribute carbohydrate products more evenly. Or try to eat the lion's share of carbohydrates in the evening, when after meals you can finally relax and tune into a passive rest.

Question: When I first tried a ketogenic diet, I felt not at ease. This is normal?

Answer: For several weeks, many feel depleted, especially if the diet was previously built around high-carb foods. However, if your workability is not restored for a long time, try the TCD or CDD and see if this helps to solve the problem.

I hope this in-depth study of the ketogenic diet taught you a lot and provided useful information that will help you make the first steps. Remember, you must be open to experimentation and listen carefully to the signals that your body sends.

Many people with great success use low-carb diets high in fat, while others with a ketogenic diet feel terrible and can not live and work normally. If you understand that you belong to the second group, do not try to force the body and stick to a ketogenic diet for the sake of the diet itself.

Ultimately, the diet should meet two conditions – to help achieve your goals in sports and health, without interfering with everyday life. You do not have to sacrifice one for the sake of the other, although many do so when they set new goals. It does not matter what good diet seems on paper and in theory, if you can not follow the chosen plan. Do what works best for you, and be true to the given course over a long distance. This is the secret of success.

Hello, I am diagnosed with diabetes. The constitution is athletic. In this regard, I'm going to switch to a low-carbohydrate diet SKD, but I was afraid that I would lose weight and energy for training. Thank you for explaining everything in detail.

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