Frequently asked questions about LCHF/KETO diet (1.part)
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There are a lot of different questions about the LCHF/KETO diet. There are some questions that keep appearing and that's why I decided to and answer them as briefly and efficiently as possible.
So, let's start at the beginning:
1. What is the LCHF/KETO diet?
LCHF is an abbreviation for LOW CARB HIGH FAT, which means a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet or way of eating. The KETO diet is a stricter derivative of LCHF. We can also call it a lifestyle, because it is definitely not one of the short-term diets. It means that we eat real food, healthy fats, unprocessed food and, of course, food that does not have a high sugar and carbohydrate content.
2. What does macronutrient ratio mean?
A very important part for being successful with the LCHF/KETO diet is in making sure our proportions are right. We are talking about macronutrients: fats, proteins and carbohydrates. In the classic diet, which is rich in sugars and carbohydrates, our body uses carbohydrates as a source of energy. When you change the ratio of macronutrient intake and carbohydrates become a negligible part of our diet, our body starts using fat as a source of energy. The approximate ratio that must be followed in the daily intake is: 70-75% fat, 15-20% protein and 5-10% carbohydrates. This means that at least 70% of our daily energy needs to come from fat, as this is the essence of the LCHF/KETO diet. The KETO diet is a stricter derivative of LCHF and is based on a higher percentage of fat and a lower percentage of carbohydrates.
3. What is KETOSIS?
Ketosis is a completely normal state of the body that occurs when we limit carbohydrates (sugar) in our diet as the primary source of energy. The body can use either sugar or fat as an energy source. Sugar is converted into glucose by our body, while fat is converted into ketones by the liver. We speak of nutritional ketosis when the level of ketones in the blood is above 0.5 mmol/l.
Read more about ketosis in the blog: The difference between ketosis and keto adaptation?
4. What are KETONES?
The mitochondria, which are body's own "little factories of energy", metabolize energy from glucose or ketones and make sure the body gets the needed energy. And here comes the difference. Ketones generate much more energy per one unit molecule than glucose. Simply put, this means that when the body starts to transfer fat into ketones, we get a much better and sustainable source of energy. It is necessary to point out another advantage of ketones - the blood sugar does not rise and insulin levels stay low, when the body starts using the fat. This is a very welcome benefit of ketosis, in addition to many other benefits. Ketones are the fuel for our cells. Ketones are produced in the liver when fat is broken down.
Read more about ketones (which types we know and how to measure them) in the blog: What are ketones?
5. Is the LCHF/KETO diet safe?
The LCHF/KETO diet has a lot of good properties - it is very filling and it suppresses the feeling of hunger and has a lot of positive effects on our health. I often say that the weight loss is just a side effect. The real effect of the LCHF/KETO diet is the impact on our health. The KETO diet (a stricter form of LCHF) has been known since the 1920s, when it was first used as a treatment for epileptic seizures in children. More and more research confirms the positive impact on various diseases and conditions, such as: diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, dementia, migraines, brain injuries, autoimmune diseases...
Of course, we have to approach the change of diet correctly. There is a wealth of literature on this and it is wise to educate yourself well before starting. How to properly start the LCHF/KETO diet, read in the blog "How to start the LCHF/KETO diet?".
Read more about the impact of the LCHF/KETO diet on health in the blog: The effect of the LCHF/KETO diet on health
The LCHF/KETO diet is also used for various medical conditions. Read it blog about the boy Filip, who has Prader Willi syndrome.
6. How do you know when you are in KETOSIS?
The most common signs of ketosis are:
- Decreased appetite.
- Longer periods without hunger.
- A higher level of constant energy.
- Better and longer ability to concentrate.
- Increased thirst.
- Breath of acetone (this applies only at the beginning of the change in diet, later it disappears).
- Metallic taste in the mouth.
Ketosis can be most accurately determined by measuring the presence of ketones in the urine or blood. More about this in the blog: What are ketones? and in the blog The difference between ketosis and keto adaptation.
7. Is the LCHF/KETO diet safe for the kidneys?
The answer is simple: OF COURSE it is. This type of diet is often misinterpreted, as many people (including doctors) think that it is a protein-based diet. This is far from the truth. The LCHF/KETO diet is NOT a protein (or meat) diet. Protein is limited to 15-20% of the daily intake in the LCHF/KETO diet.
In the case of diabetes, research confirms that the LCHF/KETO diet even has a protective effect on the kidneys.
8. Can I eat fruit on a LCHF/KETO diet?
Despite the fact that fruit is known as a healthy food, as it contains many vitamins and minerals, it also contains a lot of fructose (= sugar) and carbohydrates. In the LCHF/KETO diet, most fruits are prohibited for this reason. It is allowed to eat berries. Personally, I think that the fruit's "reputation" as a treasure trove of vitamins and minerals is overrated. Why? The same or even greater range of vitamins and minerals is also contained in selected vegetables, eggs and certain parts of meat (e.g. offal).
9. How long can I stay on the LCHF/KETO diet?
For the unlimited time. This diet is not a short-term diet, as some mistakenly think. This is not about e.g. 40 day weight loss diet or some period that we accept as a period of strict renunciation. It's a way of life, a life style. And in the long run, those real benefits of the LCHF/KETO diet show up. By this I mean above all health and a strengthened immune system.
10. Is the LCHF/KETO diet suitable for vegans or vegetarians?
Of course it is, only certain foods will not be on the menu. There are many vegans and vegetarians on the LCHF/KETO diet.
11. Can I consume dairy products on a LCHF/KETO diet?
The answer is you CAN, but not in the entirety. It is necessary to choose full-fat dairy products (fatty cheeses, mascarpone, cheese spreads, full-fat cream, Greek yogurt...). Milk should be avoided, as it has the greatest influence on our insulin. Some (especially women) who use the LCHF/KETO diet for an effective weight loss diet have to limit dairy products at the beginning or even eliminate them from the menu for a certain period of time. In this case, butter is considered a fat and is not limited.
12. I am eating according to the guidelines and I am still not in ketosis? What am I doing wrong?
There can be several reasons:
- Too many carbohydrates (the limit is somewhere between 20-50 g of carbohydrates consumed per day)
- Too much protein (excess protein is converted to glucose)
- Too many sweeteners (artificial or natural)
- Too many foods with hidden carbohydrates or sugars (that's why it's necessary to check the declarations!)
Read more about it in the blog: The most common mistakes on the LCHF/KETO diet
13. Is the LCHF/KETO diet suitable for pregnant women and nursing mothers?
Of course, it is suitable, as it is full of important nutrients and healthy fats (provided that we approach it correctly). Many pregnant women suffer from gestational diabetes and the LCHF/KETO diet can be ideal for regulating blood sugar during pregnancy. If you introduce dietary changes during breastfeeding, they should be slow and deliberate, so that the organism gets used to it well and that the stressful transition is not too big.
14. What happens to cholesterol if I eat so much fat? Will my veins clog?
Cholesterol is a substance that is essentially NECESSARY for our existence and our life. Without it, none of our cells would survive. Cholesterol in the LCHF/KETO diet deserves a little more detailed consideration and explanation. You can read a longer explanation about cholesterol and how to correctly interpret the results in the blog: How about your cholesterol?
15. I've been on the LCHF/KETO diet for a couple of days/weeks and I feel awful. What am I doing wrong?
When switching to another way of eating, the body naturally experiences stress. Our metabolism, our intestinal flora and, of course, our mitochondria must adapt to the new source of energy. In addition, another important matter occurs. On the LCHF / KETO diet, carbohydrates are kept to a minimum, which means that our pancreas no longer secretes as much insulin. As this happens, some hormonal signals might occur, which make sure that the kidneys excrete all excess water. And as the kidneys regularly excrete all the water from our body, they also excrete all the minerals and salts. Because that keeps happening all the time, our body might not get a sufficient amount of minerals and salts and it can therefore experience an electrolyte imbalance. The body lets us now in the form of symptoms such as: headaches,
dizziness, fatigue, muscle pain, leg cramps, irregular heartbeat, increased pulse, constipation, malaise...
Read about electrolytes and the importance of salt in the diet in the blog:
16. I am terribly constipated. What to do?
Start consuming magnesium! Regular consumption of magnesium supplements helps against constipation. You can also get high-quality and concentrated magnesium citrate in our store online store.
- Increase your salt intake!
- Increase the proportion of fat.
- A tablespoon of coconut oil helps (add it to your morning coffee or tea)
- Check fluid intake (water!)
- Add MCT oil to your diet (it definitely helps). You can get it in our online store.
17. I miss BREAD! Where can I buy LCHF/KETO bread?
Currently, it is possible to buy baked LCHF/KETO bread in our webstore. And no, those protein bread substitutes (Luna bread and similar) are NOT LCHF, as they contain wheat gluten (and many other things). The solution are also our branded ready made and available organic bread mixtures.
You can also bake bread at home completely easily and without any problems. You can find the recipes here:
The ingredients are available in our online store.
18. Is it true that carbohydrates and sugars are NECESSARY for the brain health?
No, that's not true. Essential macronutrients that the body needs are proteins and fats. Without it, we get sick. Carbohydrates do not belong to this group. The organism has the ability to produce glucose, which some cells need (it is a minimal amount of glucose) in a process called gluconeogenesis. This means that carbohydrates and sugar are not an essential food. The brain (and other organs) use ketones for fuel easily (and even much more efficiently) than glucose.
19. Can I be on a LCHF/KETO diet during the week, and have pizza, beer and classic desserts on the weekend?
That's not exactly the best idea. With doing so we do the greatest damage to the organism. If our goal is ketosis, then such meals will definitely derail us from the rhythm and from ketosis. In addition, such meals disrupt the body's adaptation to fat consumption and trigger a desire for sweets. And it quickly happens that we are back in our old ways, with fast food full of sugar and feeling bad.
To be continued…
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15.3.2019, Katja, LCHF Style