Ketogenic Diet – The newest diet craze. But is it safe?
We are constantly bombarded with information regarding weight loss. It seems that every few years, a new diet trend comes along sweeping the nation by offering new ways to slim down and get fit. I myself have been drawn to many of these, such as the Atkins diet, the 21-day fix, Vegan diet, Mediterranean diet…I could go on and on.
Recently however, I kept hearing the words “Keto Diet” and how it’s a wonderfully fast way to slim down. As a busy American, I can admit that hearing the words “Fast” or “Quick” in association with seeing results is attractive and gets my attention every time. Based on the studies of other diet fads however, I knew that there had to be some risks involved as well. So, I decided to do some research on it and wanted to share it with my readers.
Introduction to the Ketogenic Diet:
Designed in 1924 by Dr. Russell Wilder, the Ketogenic diet has been in existence for over 90 years now. The Ketogenic aka “Keto” diet, is a low carb diet plan where ketones are produced in the liver to be used as fuel for energy. The presence of enhanced ketone bodies in the blood, leads to reduction of epileptic seizures.
The Ketogenic diet has many names – low carb diet, ketosis diet, low carb high fat (LCHF) etc. This diet provides suitable amounts of protein, high fats and low amount of carbohydrates. This combination modifies the way of energy usage in the body.
Basis of the Ketone Diet – Ketosis:
To fully understand the Ketogenic diet we need to know first that how the process, Ketosis takes place.
When the body consumes high amounts of carbohydrates, insulin and glucose are produced. We all are well aware of the fact that, glucose is the easiest molecule to be broken down in the body. So it will be opted over any other energy source for fuel.
To process the glucose into our bloodstream throughout the body, insulin is produced. Fats are not required and thus, stored in the body. Because the glucose is being utilized as the primary source of energy. Usually, on a common higher carbohydrate diet, body tends to use glucose as the main source of fuel for the body.
Ketosis is process the body initiates naturally on its own to help us in survival when food intake is low. During ketosis, ketones are produced when fat is converted into fatty acids in the liver.
The Ketone Diet:
The purpose of having a ketone diet is to force the body into its metabolic state. This is not performed through starving the body of calories, but starvation of the carbohydrates.
Bodies are immensely adaptive to what you tend to put into it. When the body is overloaded with fats and carbohydrates are taken away, ketones are burned as the main energy source.
Now we know in detail what exactly the ketogenic diet is. Let us study its advantages:
- Burns Fat: If you take up ketogenic diet, the body’s ability to burn stored fat is improved immensely. When you eat high-carbohydrates, body’s ability to convert fat is decreased but in state of ketosis, body turns the fat into fuel.
- Decreased Appetite: When the body is in state of ketosis, you will not feel much hungry. Your body is enabled to survive in low calorie meals.
- Epilepsy and Seizure Management: Ketosis was designed for management of epilepsy. The process where brain uses ketones instead of glucose, produces such a chemistry that affects very positively on seizures. Epileptic kids tend to have 50% less chances of fits if follow a ketogenic diet. About 15% stop having them all together.
- Saves Proteins: If body consumes high amounts of calories and protein for example in the ketosis state, body goes for ketones not glucose. Because of high fats, protein oxidation will not be required which produces glucose. Rather, proteins will be saved for some other function of the body.
- Lower Insulin Levels: Ketogenic diet ensures lower insulin levels which promote lipolysis as well as releasing of glycerol which is not possible in normal diet when insulin levels are heightened. Furthermore, low insulin favors the release of growth hormones.
- Weight Loss: Ketogenic diet assures weight loss and is an effective solution for obesity. It preserves the muscle mass so that the improvements incurred in the body can be sustained.
- Lowers Risk of Cancer: Cancer cells live off on sugar cells. So when ketogenic diet is adopted, carbs are reduced and proteins and healthy fats are increased resulting in starvation of the cancer cells. They cannot survive on ketones and will quickly die when you become fat adapted.
Albeit the benefits certainly outweigh the drawbacks, some of problems which are faced as follows:
- Acetoacetate Smell: The major side effect is that your breath and urine start to smell like a nail polish remover because of the breaking down of acetoacetate. The base ingredient in nail polish remover is acetate.
- Adherence to The Plan: Ketogenic diet is a very restrictive way of eating and people have problem in sticking to the diet plan. Outings, social gathering and the task of finding the suitable foods are a troublesome task for the one following ketogenic diet.
- Produces Ketoacidosis: Due to increase in ketones, ketoacidosis can occur. It means your blood pH can become lower which is fatal. Ketones are acidic. But it should not cause problems as long as you are not diabetic. If you are, the ratio of insulin is low to glucagon which can cause ketoacidosis.
- Fatigue and Fogged Brain: For the initial weeks, during the metabolic change body experiences brain fog and fatigue. Once you get used to it, you will not face such fluctuations of blood sugar.
- Deficiencies in Micronutrients: Because of the curfew of carbohydrates in this diet, it can result in micronutrient deficiencies. For that high quality multivitamins need to be taken twice a day. Special care needs to be taken of the digestive system as well.
The Ketogenic diet is affective and has proven to give results a lot of times. It is a great way for weight loss as well but not for everyone. It has many benefits which are certainly more than its disadvantages, it is necessary to be careful when you move to a diet of such kind.
It is necessary to consult with your doctor or nutritionist before making the decision to start. You should make up your mind and train yourself to face some problems and challenges in the initial few weeks of turning to the Ketogenic diet. Do not take the low-carb thing too far by totally cutting out on fruit and vegetables. If you are planning to burn some fat through ketosis, make sure you do your homework before and consult somebody before switching to this diet.
You will sure benefit yourself and your body to a great deal with its so many health benefits if you adhere to this carbohydrate restricting diet. Now could I personally do it? I love bread and pasta TOO much to give up entirely but perhaps for a short period of time so that I can finally fit into those shorts from two summers ago…Maybe? stay tuned.
Thanks for stopping by!