Lots of fat and protein, hardly any carbohydrates: A ketogenic diet should boost the metabolism and prevent diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s. How healthy is that really? We got smart for you…
Do you remember the Atkins diet? The fad diet from the 1990s recommended the more or less unlimited consumption of fat (oils, butter, mayonnaise) and protein (meat, dairy products, eggs), while carbohydrates (pastries, pasta, noodles) were forbidden. The Atkins diet is considered controversial and is rejected by many nutrition experts and by the German Society for Nutrition (DGE) as too one-sided and potentially harmful to health.
The studies on this are contradictory to this day. The current comeback of the so-called ketogenic diet is all the more astonishing: Like Atkins in the past, it banishes carbohydrates from the diet and relies mainly on fat. The principle behind it: If the body does not get any carbohydrates (“no carb”) and no sugar, the metabolism switches over
the so-called ketosis. The liver then converts fat into a glucose substitute called ketones, or ketone bodies.
The advantages: The body breaks down fat reserves in order to obtain vital energy. The change in diet dehydrates because the body breaks down glucose stores, i.e. glycogen. Glycogen, in turn, binds water. The dehydration effect is quickly noticeable on the scales: the kilos tumble.
And: The feeling of hunger also disappears – this means you automatically eat less. The ketogenic diet lowers insulin levels and prevents blood sugar fluctuations. So there shouldn’t be any cravings.
Protection against epilepsy, cancer & Alzheimer’s?
In medicine, the ketogenic diet has been used for years as an additional means of alleviating epileptic seizures. Some patients even become seizure free with the fat diet. The exact reason for this has not yet been determined. What is certain, however, is that the ketones intervene in the brain metabolism and reduce the overexcitation of the nerve cells that is typical of epilepsy. A ketogenic diet is also said to have a positive effect on cancer. A low-sugar diet can at least slow down the growth of cancer cells. The diet also has an anti-inflammatory effect – and it is well known that inflammatory reactions play a major role in cancer. The ketogenic diet could also be interesting for Alzheimer’s patients in the future.
Is acidosis threatening?
However, the ketogenic diet does not only have positive sides. Too much protein can “overacidify” the metabolism and result in mouth
odor develop, the uric acid level rises (increases the risk of gout), the formation of kidney stones is promoted, there is a threat of constipation or the ability to perform decreases: you feel weak and tired – at least initially.
In addition, there is the psychological effect: having to do without certain foods completely often makes you want to eat them. Conclusion: It’s hard to keep going. However, to be fair, many of these side effects can be avoided by using the ketogenic diet judiciously. Eating keto does not mean feasting on huge portions of roast pork and bacon every day. If you follow the ketogenic diet in a healthy way, this means not eating too much meat, cheese and fish, but more high-quality fats such as vegetable oils (e.g. rapeseed oil, olive oil or coconut oil), nuts, sprouts, eggs, dairy products, some fruit and some vegetables. Vegetables that are “above ground” such as lettuce, cucumber, zucchini or peppers are considered to be low in carbohydrates. “Underground” such as carrots, beets or potatoes, on the other hand, have more carbohydrates.
Keto cure: now also vegan & gluten-free
The Austrian doctor and psychotherapist Ruediger Dahlke goes one step further: He now makes the ketogenic diet vegan and gluten-free possible. “Until now, a ketogenic diet was considered the opposite of a vegan diet. But that doesn’t have to be the case: the advantages of both directions complement each other wonderfully,” says the holistic doctor in his guide “Keto-Kur” (published by Gräfe and Unzer). His credo: vegan, ketogenic and gluten-free. Overweight people can lose weight with it; patients with diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or multiple sclerosis would also benefit from this.
How does that work in practice?
According to Dahlke, fats form the essential basis, ahead of protein: “On the positive list, coconut ranks right at the top as the ideal all-round fat.” It is allowed
be heated as desired and can be used for frying and cooking, but also cold. Good sources of fat are also olive,…