The Buzz Behind the Ketogenic Diet

Balance in Nutrition Habits There are a lot of diet crazes out there and the latest buzz is the ketogenic diet. As you know I’m opposed, in general, to anything that is restrictive or detracts from living a free and healthy life. True health, happiness, fulfillment, and longevity is achieved through balance and moderation. There are certain times in our lives when we need to utilize a bit more of a regimented diet based on things we have exposed ourselves to in the past or certain toxins we encounter without realizing it everyday. There’s a time and place for everything. Just as you wouldn’t take antibiotics when you don’t need them you shouldn’t be on a restrictive diet when you don’t need to. Healthy lifestyle choices should be your main focus, but for now, let’s look at what all the hype is about with the ketogenic diet and when it might be beneficial.

History of the Ketogenic Diet

To begin, The Ketogenic Diet was developed in the early 1900s as a means to manage epilepsy. It began as a type of long term fasting (18-25 days) during which only water is consumed. After the specified time period the patients health was then maintained on a low starch and low sugar diet. The research shows that larger amounts of ketones (three water soluble compounds) are produced by the liver during these periods of fasting followed by a high fat and low carbohydrate diet. 1 Without getting into the scientific mumbo jumbo, let’s just say that these ketones are important in controlling epilepsy.2 It works!

There have been other studies recently on how this particular diet can improve other conditions such as diabetes or cancer.3 Most recently it has been presented as a weight loss regiment. I get leery of anything that is promoting weight loss because weight is such a personal thing. There is no such thing as the perfect weight. You’re focus should be on a healthy lifestyle, as I mentioned above. If you are focusing on becoming healthier and happier your body will lose the weight it needs.

How Does it Work

So, that’s all well and good, but how does it work? Well, the ketogenic diet focuses on manipulating three macronutrient; fats, carbs, and proteins. Carbohydrates and proteins are kept to a minimum so that your body is fueling itself on fat. Another fancy name for this metabolic state is ketosis. This is different from the other carbohydrate restrictive diets, such as the paleo diet, because it actually puts your body in a caloric deprived state. There are restrictions on protein and fruits in the paleo diet. In the ketogenic diet the restrictions are on all macronutrients. Even fat is monitored to keep caloric intake low.

Benefits

Diabetes and the Ketogenic Diet There are some benefits to implementing the ketogenic diet especially if you struggle with diabetes. By restricting the calories in your diet and extremely limiting carbohydrates your body doesn’t go into blood sugar highs and lows.4 Also, there are many people who have had weight loss success by implementing the ketogenic diet. Keep in mind, the people who have achieved success on this diet approached it with a plan and viewed it as a lifestyle change. I’ve also seen many people with different types of cancer that have gone into remission after using this type of diet. The Ketogenic diet definitely has its place but it also has drawbacks.

Drawbacks

First, if you have kidney, cholesterol, gallbladder, or low blood sugar conditions this plan could be extremely detrimental to your health. I always recommend consulting your doctor and monitoring your progress if you choose to go on any restrictive nutrition plan. Second, restrictive plans are not maintainable. Let’s face it, we live in a world with a lot of yummy food. One of the greatest pleasures in life is consuming it. If you’re continually worrying about what you can and cannot eat to the point that you don’t take part in the joys of daily living you’re living as a slave to your nutritional habits. Life is for living, enjoy it! I’m not saying go out and eat a pile of donuts because ‘you only live once’. Enjoy the decadent things in life in moderation. You can partake in them without guilt in moderation and focus on overall health.

Finally…

If you are looking to try the ketogenic diet I strongly urge you to talk to your doctor first. Make sure your doctor will monitor you throughout the process. You will be putting yourself on a restrictive diet in which all the nutrients your body need to stay in balance are no longer readily available. Make sure you discuss how you’re going to maintain and monitor these daily nutrients and also a long term maintenance plan. The last thing you want is to go back to your old habits and binge on all the things you felt you were missing. Always view your endeavors as lifetime habit changes.

xo,

isabelle

1.
Sampaio L. Ketogenic diet for epilepsy treatment. Arq Neuropsiquiatr. 2016;74(10):842-848. [PubMed]
2.
Maciejak P, Szyndler J, Turzyńska D, et al. Is the interaction between fatty acids and tryptophan responsible for the efficacy of a ketogenic diet in epilepsy? The new hypothesis of action. Neuroscience. 2016;313:130-148. [PubMed]
3.
Veech R. The therapeutic implications of ketone bodies: the effects of ketone bodies in pathological conditions: ketosis, ketogenic diet, redox states, insulin resistance, and mitochondrial metabolism. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2004;70(3):309-319. [PubMed]
4.
Westman E, Yancy W, Mavropoulos J, Marquart M, McDuffie J. The effect of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-glycemic index diet on glycemic control in type 2 diabetes mellitus. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2008;5:36. [PubMed]

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