The good, the bad, and the unknown. - Ketogenic Diet + Research Links

Obesity

Research shows that the majority of chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease are related to obesity which is largely a product of lifestyle, food habits, and arguably lack of good dietary information. These factors are difficult for any person to change because they can be ingrained in our culture, values, and personal identity. 

However, the ketogenic diet is a particular type of diet that many people are experiencing great success with when it comes to losing weight, shedding fat, feeling more energetic, and even feeling more clear headed. The improved energy and sense of well-being can also motivate people to add more regular physical activity to their day or begin an exercise routine.

We hope this article gives you an overview of the ketogenic diet and helps kick start a healthier season for you and your family.

Ketogenic Diet at a Glance

There are a number of variants of the ketogenic diet, but the standard ketogenic diet typically consists of high-fats, moderate-proteins, and very-low-carbohydrates.

  • 55-60% fats
  • 30-35% proteins
  • 5-10% carbohydrates (about 20 to 50 g of carbohydrates per day based on 2000 calorie diet - the average American diet consists of 200-350 g/day)

DIFFERENT TYPES OF KETOGENIC DIETS

  • Standard ketogenic diet (SKD): This is a very low-carbohydrate with moderate-protein and high-fat diet. It typically contains 70 per cent fat, 20 per cent protein and only 10 per cent carbohydrates.
  • Cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD): This diet involves periods of higher-carbohydrates in between the ketogenic diet cycles, for example, five ketogenic days followed by two high-carbohydrate days as a cycle.
  • Targeted ketogenic diet (TKD): This diet permits adding additional carbohydrates around the periods of the intensive physical workout.
  • High-protein ketogenic diet (HPKD): This diet includes more protein and the ratio around 60 per cent fat, 35 per cent protein and five per cent carbohydrates but as can be seen, it is still a very high fat diet. - Source

New Fad?

Ketogenic diet is not exactly new. Keto has been around for nearly 100 years. It was first used to treat epilepsy in 1921 by Russel Wilder who also coined the term "ketogenic diet." Ketogenic diets were widely used until the advent of anti-epileptic drugs.

Possible Benefits?

  • A military study found high adherence to Keto, remarkable weight loss, improvements in body composition, loss of visceral fat, and no compromise to physical performance adaptations to exercise training. - Source
  • Pre-clinical studies demonstrate antidepressant and mood stabilizing effects of ketogenic diet (no clinical trials to date). - Source
  • Lean body muscle is not lost. - Source
  • When the body sustains nutritional ketosis appetite is partly reduced and hunger pangs subside. Source
  • Ketone bodies (produced when in ketosis) are neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory. - Source
  • GABA (a neurotransmitter that may boost mood, calming, and relaxation) is increased during ketosis. - Source
  • We see increased mitochondrial function in ketosis. Mitochondria are often called the powerhouse of cells. - Source
  • In addition to weight loss, studies have shown that ketogenic diets reduce serum triglycerides dramatically. - Source
  • Reduction of LDL cholesterol (Bad cholesterol) and improved HDL cholesterol (Good cholesterol) have been reported. *possibly limited in time Source
  • Low carb diets in general have been shown to have immense benefits in blood sugar control. *possibly limited in time Source
  • Ketogenic diets have been shown to reduce blood pressure. *possibly limited in time Source
  • The relationship between high fat diet and cancer is not conclusive, however, sugar consumption is positively associated with cancer in humans and test animals. Tumors are know to be enormous sugar absorbers. It has been shown that risk of breast cancer decreases with increases in total fat intake. - Source

Adverse Effects?

The long-term health effects of this diet are not well established. Some long-term adverse effects may include hepatic steatosis, hypoproteinemia, kidney stones, and vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Ketogenic diets are also reported to cause non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Some medical experts have also voiced heart health concerns from high-fat diets often rich in animal meats while lacking in fruits, many vegetables and whole grains. If the government could choose how you ate it would look more like this. (Link to Healthy Eating Plate at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health)

The most common argument against a very-low-carb very-high-fat diet seems to hinge on the fact, as with many diets, it is very difficult to sustain the diet in the long term. Therefore, the benefits will be lost as the the pendulum swings from one set of nutrients (high fat) to the other (high carbs) thereby exposing your body to the risks of both extremes. 

In the short-term Keto may cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, headache, fatigue, dizziness, insomnia, exercise intolerance, and constipation. These symptoms often present together and have become known as the Keto flu. Don't fret the symptoms typically resolve in a few days up to a few weeks.

The ketogenic state

The ketogenic diet switches your body into a ketogenic state (or ketosis). Before you can reach ketosis you must drastically reduce carbs (Usually less than 50 g per day).

In simplified terms, carbs are your body's primary fuel source. As you liberate your body from carbohydrates your body will both utilize stores of glucose and produce limited amounts of glucose. Eventually your body can't keep up with energy demands and it will switch to an alternate fuel supply, namely ketone bodies. This is the start of a ketogenic state.

As you sustain ketosis your body becomes very efficient producing energy from fatty acids and ketone bodies. Ketones are a major source of energy for your brain, heart, and Musculoskeletal system. 

References:

Masood W, Uppaluri KR. Ketogenic Diet. [Updated 2019 Mar 21]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2019 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499830/

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