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Ketogenic (very low carb) diet: an introduction

  1. A ketogenic diet is a special form of the low-carbohydrate diet. With a ketogenic diet, the consumption of carbohydrates is limited and the consumption of fats is broadened to such an extent that ketones are produced by the liver and that the metabolism shifts from carbohydrate burning to fat burning. The ketogenic diet is often used as an easy way to lose weight, because you can lose weight without feeling hungry, but it also has other health benefits, such as diabetes.

The basis

  1. The starting point for a ketogenic diet is to reduce the consumption of carbohydrates to less than 50 grams per day, preferably even less than 20 grams per day. So it is a form of low-carb diet. A rule of thumb is the 5/35/60 rule, which means 5% of the daily energy intake from carbohydrates, 35% from proteins and 60% from fats. Note: this concerns the energy supplied, not the weight of the food. Protein and carbohydrates contain 4 KCalories per gram, fat contains 9 KCalories per gram. The diet is also known as Low Carb High Fat, LCHF for short.

Adjustment of the body

  1. When your body goes into ketosis, the glycogen stores in the liver are first used up. Then your body switches to fat burning instead of carbohydrate burning. Because your body is not used to this, your body has to adapt to burning fat for energy. During this transition, all kinds of effects can occur such as headaches, dizziness, fatigue and other flu-like symptoms. On average this will take about three days, but it varies from person to person.

What to Avoid

  1. Bread, pasta, rice, sugar, candy, sugary soft drinks, chips, beer and fruit (yes, "healthy" fruit is packed with sugar)

What to eat

  1. Vegetables (but no beans and peas), eggs, meat, fish, natural fats such as butter (no margarine, etc.), nuts, cheese and full-fat yogurt and cottage cheese.


  1. To get your body used to the ketogenic state, it is advised not to drink alcohol for the first two months. After that, alcohol can exceptionally be drunk, but this will always mean that the weight loss will stop until all alcohol has been burned. Never pack carbohydrate-containing drinks such as beer, sweet wines, breezers, and liqueurs. Instead, have red wine, dry white wine, whiskey or vodka.

Counting calories

  1. The first weeks it can be very insightful to count calories. But it is much more important to listen to your body. If you are not hungry, don't eat! It doesn't matter if it happens to be dinner time. If you are hungry, eat. Try not to eat all day long, if you do eat more fats. These provide a satiated feeling. When you count calories, you know if you are on the right track. After a few weeks, you can rely on your body's signals and you can avoid calorie counting.

Example daily menu

  1. Breakfast 2 eggs with bacon, possibly supplemented with some spinach


  1. Salad of vegetables of your choice, chicken or tuna, boiled eggs, salad dressing or dressing of your choice (read the label: choose a salad dressing or dressing with little sugar and high fat)


  1. A piece of fatty meat, fish or poultry of your choice. Not breaded.


  1. Cubes of cheese and / or slices of sausage (salami, cervelate)

Read the labels

  1. Many foods contain (hidden) carbohydrates. Fortunately, most labels state how much of the various macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, fats) there are per 100 grams. Estimate how much you will eat and whether this fits within a ketogenic diet. Fresh foods only have an ingredient declaration, often not broken down by macronutrients. Note the other names for sugar such as dextrose, fructose, sucrose, honey, molasses syrup, sugar syrup, fruit juice concentrate, etc. Other carbohydrates include potato flour, corn flour, thickener, etc.

Other Health Benefits

  1. The scientific basis for the other health claims is still limited. Many people report improvement of various complaints after switching to a low-carbohydrate or ketogenic diet. The effects on improving health can vary from person to person. Many people report a strong reduction or disappearance of inflammatory reactions and skin complaints. Stomach complaints also disappear in many people who switch to a ketogenic diet. And because the bacteria population in the gut is favorably affected, it could also cause anxiety relief and depression. However, no proper research has been done on this.


  1. Many type II diabetics report an improvement in their blood levels and a reduction in the need for insulin. If you follow the diet faithfully, type II diabetes may even disappear. Medical supervision and check-ups are recommended, as results may vary from person to person.

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