One of diet trends that seem to be on a rise is the ketogenic diet or "keto diet". It is very popular with youth and the cherry on this cake is that one gets to eat a lot of protein and fat based food in this diet. This is one diet which is gaining attention as well as momentum, but how far is this diet workable or healthy? Keto is a high-fat, low carb diet currently on the rise as more people recognize its benefits for achieving their health and fitness goals.
Ketogenic diets were specifically used as a medical nutrition therapy for peadiatric patients with seizure disorders, for whom medication was no longer effective. Indeed, there s plenty of research to support ketogenic diets in the treatment of some devastating neurological conditions, but let's try to understand what exactly happens in the body with keto diet. Under normal circumstances, when you eat high in carbs food, your body produces glucose and insulin.
* Glucose is the easiest molecule for your body to convert and use as energy so that it will be chosen over any other energy source.
* Insulin, whose job is to process the glucose in your bloodstream and transport it around the body, releases and does exactly that.
Now, when you are on a ketogenic diet, it lowers your carb intake. In turn, your glucose levels are lower, so your body cannot convert it to energy. This sends your body in to a state known as ketosis, the basis of ketogenic diet.
WHAT CAUSES THE KETO DIET TO WORK ?
In regimented keto diets, only 10% of total calories per day (about a measly 20 grams!) come from carbs, 20% protein, and a whopping 70% from fats. Since our bodies preferentially use carbs for energy, cutting them means we have to use something else to keep organs functioning. Our bodies then turn to the glucose stored in our muscles as glycogen for fuel.
We lose water weight! Our muscles store about 3 grams of water for every gram of glycogen, meaning we can lose quite a bit of weight right away when we tap into glycogen stores for fuel. That's why someone who loses weight in "just one week" from low-carb plan is likely to lose water weight, not necessarily real weight that stays off over time.
THE NEUROLOGICAL CONNECTION:
It's true that the brain needs about 50 grams of glucose a day, but this doesn't necessarily have to come from eating carbohydrates alone. In fact the body is capable of producing glucose from amino acids, glycerol and lactate and pyruvate. These substrates go to liver where it turns them into glucose via the process known as gluconeogenesis.
The rest of energy that the brain requires is derived from ketones that improves brain function and this is the reason that ketogenic diets are used to treat brain disorders. One important thing to remember catch is as it takes time for the body to adapt to ketosis, so does the brain. During this adaption, brain functions may suffer and one may feel increasingly fatigued.
While there is reasonable evidence to support the use of the ketogenic diet for clinical purposes, the use of the ketogenic diet for people just looking to optimize their diet and lose weight is debatable. Here are the pros and cons:
- Helps to treat and reverse neurological disorders and cognitive impairments including epilepsy.
- One of the best things about eating low carbohydrates is that it leads to an automatic reduction in appetite thus helping in weight loss.
- Keto diets are very effective at lowering blood triglycerides which are fat molecules in the blood and well-known risk for heart diseases.
- Due to the fact that this diet allows only 25 to 35 grams of carbs in total, most people will have to cut out their intake of really sugary foods, which is certainly a plus and something most of us benefit from!
- It's really difficult even for diet/nutrition experts to go about their routines while following the 70 to 80% fat, 10% carb, and 15% protein diet, as every single meal (for the most part) has to be planned and calculated. For most people, this will be the hardest part.
- While the upside of this plan is the increased fat intake, the downside is that many people actually end up eating a lot of highly saturated animal fats.
- Thought there is some weight loss for many (and even significant amounts for others), many don't lose as much as they would like to, perhaps because its so hard to strictly adhere to it.
- Thought this diet can be high in heart-healthy fats (depending on the ones you choose), it is often low in fiber. It can also be lower in plant-based healthy nutrients as many foods that contain fiber also contain more carbs than permitted on this type of plan.
- If the level of ketones in blood skyrockets, ketoacidosis may occur because ketones are acidic in nature. This means blood pH could become lower which can spell death.
- Once you resort to ketogenic diet, there is likelihood of you experiencing fatigue and brain fog.While ketogenic diets seem to be safe for most individuals, it is recommended that diabetics, high blood pressure patients and breastfeeding moms consult a dietician/ nutritionist before starting one.