The ketogenic diet has been surging in popularity in recent years, with some market analysts expecting adherence to the eating program to continue growing over the next half-decade. The diet is already well-established in Europe as well as North America and is expanding in popularity in Asia too.
The fat-centric diet historically was used to treat children and adults with epilepsy. However, modern studies have shown that adhering to a ketogenic diet may have a variety of other health benefits, including weight loss and mitigating the effects of Type 2 diabetes.See Also: Olive Oil Basics
The diet works by having adherents replace carbohydrates and proteins with both saturated and unsaturated fats. Many health experts and enthusiastic followers of the ketogenic diet say including extra virgin olive oil in the diet is a great way to improve its efficacy.
What is the ketogenic diet?
The ketogenic diet – keto for short – is primarily based on the consumption of fat, giving less emphasis to the other two macronutrients – proteins and carbohydrates.
While ratios vary depending on the individual and their goals, the caloric intake of keto diet adherents is typically composed of only five to 10 percent carbohydrates and 15 to 30 percent protein, with the remainder of the diet made up of fat.See Also: Diet News
The idea behind the diet is to achieve ketosis, a state in which the body and brain switch from breaking down carbohydrates to processing fats as the primary source of energy.
During ketosis the body converts fat into ketones, which are then converted into energy. At the beginning of the diet, the body solely burns newly-consumed fat, but as the body adjusts, it begins to break down stored fat too.
Since the body is reverting to this alternative source of fuel, it is important to not consume a high volume of carbohydrates, as it will quickly convert back to using this macronutrient as fuel.
Health benefits of the ketogenic diet
When properly managed, the ketogenic diet can bring a variety of health benefits to the adherents.
The primary use of the ketogenic diet is to lose weight. After the body has burned through all of the carbohydrates, it solely converts fat into energy, which burns far more calories. There is also some evidence suggesting diets high in fats and proteins are more satiating and result in participants consuming fewer calories overall.See Also: Health News
Research suggests that the ketogenic diet may also lower the risk of heart disease and mitigate the risk of metabolic syndrome (i.e. high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood sugar) by raising the body’s level of “good” cholesterols and lowering the level of “bad” cholesterol.
Adherence to the ketogenic diet may also mitigate the impacts of insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes. There is also some evidence (though it is far from conclusive) to suggest that the ketogenic diet may also be beneficial for acne, cancer prevention, polycystic ovary syndrome and some neural diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease.
Regarding diabetes, cancer prevention and acne, the ketogenic diet may be beneficial because it uses up the body’s insulin and prevents it from building up in the bloodstream. Insulin helps to fuel the growth of cancer cells and too much of it in the blood can lead to insulin resistance and diabetes.
Researchers are still unsure of why the ketogenic diet may be beneficial in mitigating the impacts of neurodegenerative diseases, but theorize that when fat is converted into ketones and sent to the brain, it may act as a protective layering on the brain cells.
Olive oil and the ketogenic diet
Since roughly 70 percent of caloric intake on the ketogenic diet comes from fat, it is important to be eating the correct kinds.
Consuming significant amounts of monounsaturated fats is important for improving the efficacy of the ketogenic diet. For this reason, extra virgin olive oil – which is composed of about 73 percent monounsaturated fat – fits perfectly within the ketogenic diet.
Not only does the consumption of extra virgin olive oil as part of the diet complement many of the aforementioned health benefits, but some evidence suggests that it is among the preferred fats to digest by a body that is in ketosis.See Also: Cooking with Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive oil is also rich in antioxidants, which can help absorb much-needed nutrients in food. Since a limited number of carbohydrates is critical to success for the ketogenic diets, consuming salads dressed with extra virgin olive oil or vegetables grilled with the stuff helps the body get the most out of these foods.
Additionally, extra virgin olive oil is rich in polyphenols, Omega‑3 and Omega‑6 fatty acids, all of which are healthful compounds that help the body function properly.
Away from the health benefits of adding extra virgin olive oil to the ketogenic diet, there is also the flavor factor.
From adding it to salads to frying eggs in it, extra virgin olive oil is a versatile cooking ingredient that can help add some variety and complexity to a keto meal plan.