It Wasn’t Planned – It Was Found by Accident
There is a huge push by many dietitians towards implementing the Ketogenic Diet which has grown in popularity among many who suffer from weight gain and type 2 diabetes. It was considered the most popular diet in 2018. When treating neurological diseases such as epilepsy, doctors stumbled upon this dietary tool with its low-carb, high-fat content offering numerous health benefits. The Keto Diet lowers blood sugars and insulin levels boosting insulin sensitivity which forces you to use fat instead of carbs for energy. The fat is then turned into Ketones which is an acid, and those Ketones are sent into the bloodstream raising your energy levels.
Its popularity stems from the fact that you no longer must count calories or food intake. The Keto diet is more filling and reduces your appetite and levels of hunger. Another added benefit is an increase in strength due to growing muscle mass as well as being good for strengthening bones. It boosts fat burning and metabolism levels and reduces cravings for snacking. All this stems from higher protein intake.
With the Keto Diet, your body drastically reduces carbohydrates and replaces it with fat. Ketosis is the metabolic state in which the fat transforms into Ketone bodies which your body then converts into energy instead of carbs. Not only does it reduce fat for weight loss, but it also produces more energy for the brain by turning fat into Ketones inside the liver.
Food to include in the Ketogenic diet.
- Fatty fish
- Butters, Creams
- Nuts, Seeds
- Avocados, Low-Carb Veggies (greens/onions, etc.)
Foods to be avoided
- Sugar, juices, sodas, sweets
- Starches, Grains
- Fruit (small portions are okay)
- Beans, Peas
- Root Veggies (potatoes, etc.)
- Processed Foods
In short, the aim is to go into Ketosis which starts the process of producing Ketones. It happens naturally when one is pregnant or fasting. Eating 50 grams or less of carbs per day is the ideal. Most importantly, the benefits of a Ketogenic Diet can include improved heart health, reduce seizures, and a significant weight loss among many other things.
With most diets though, you have to understand that at first the weight loss is mostly water, especially with this diet. But, after the first 5 pounds or so, if the weight loss is what you’re looking for, stick with it for 30 days. Then, if it doesn’t affect the way you feel regarding strength, agility and sleeping habits, stay with it to see if it’s right for you. This diet however, may seem pretty boring with hardly any variety in meals which could be a draw back. Consider the fact that there’s little fruit and no pasta, it may be hard to continue for any length of time.
Is There a Downside and/or possible Risk?
“It’s really an all or nothing diet,” says Rachel Kleinman, RDN, LDN, clinical dietitian at the University of Chicago Medicine Ingalls Memorial. According to Kleinman and other naysayers regarding Ketosis, longer periods of dieting could cause low blood pressure, kidney stones, constipation, nutrient deficiencies and an increased risk of heart disease. If you have conditions involving the liver, gallbladder, the pancreas, or the thyroid, Keto is not safe. You must make sure you’re being vigilant by consulting your physician before trying it.
Also, other physicians believe that if you’re new to the keto diet, you could experience what is called the “keto flu”. You would have symptoms such as an upset stomach, dizziness, decreased energy, and mood swings caused by your body adapting to ketosis. It’s also said that it’s dangerous for the heart, increases the risk of ketoacidosis, leading to poor mineral intake and electrolyte imbalance.
In 1921, Dr. Wilder at the Mayo Clinic proposed that the benefits of fasting could be obtained if
ketonemia was produced. Wilder proposed that a ketogenic diet (KD) be tried in a series of patients with epilepsy. The results of the diet in over 1,000 children tested, was that 52% had complete control of the seizures and an additional 27% had improved control. A new era of medical therapy for epilepsy had begun.
It’s popularity today stems from a recent history which I’ve quoted below from an article written on The Charlie Foundation website.
In 1994 a little boy named Charlie Abrahams developed difficult-to-control epilepsy. His parents learned about the diet in a medical textbook and took him to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Md. His seizures stopped within days of starting the diet and he remained on it for five years. He is now 21, remains seizure-free, lives on his own and attends college.
The family shared their story with the media and answered thousands of letters that followed. Charlie’s father, Jim Abrahams, wrote, directed and produced “First Do No Harm”, a 1997 television movie starring Meryl Streep and based on a true story of another child who also became seizure-free thanks to a ketogenic diet. This began a surge in interest worldwide and spurred further research which has proven the effectiveness of the diet as a treatment for epilepsy.
So, What Are the Benefits?
Because more work is required to turn fat instead of carbs into energy, the Keto diet can speed up weight loss. It’s considered by some to be another source of treatment for chemotherapy and radiation in cancer patients because it causes more oxidation and stress on cancer cells. It can improve heart health because it reduces cholesterol. Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and even sleep disorders can be treated and has been proven effective. Children have had enhanced alertness and cognitive functioning with Ketosis. And of course, it’s been already proven to reduce seizures in people with epilepsy.
Bottom line, if you wish to lose weight, eat all the eggs, fish, meat and poultry you want to along with butter, heavy oils, and vegetables grown above ground; if you want to cut out sugar and carbohydrates which stimulate insulin, start a Keto Diet. With the insulin levels decreasing, it will increase fat burning and reduce inflammation. This will also help take away the possibility of many chronic diseases as well.
Please consult with your physician before starting the Ketogenic diet. You should track your bio-markers and adjust your body to the new conditions. This is a total lifestyle change and it shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Allison C Whitfield, author of "The Shelter of the Shade Tree", is a Freelance writer who creates articles describing the unconventional for those who wish to explore new ideas and new challenges. She has had 30 + years of experience in Office Administration and Customer Service. She is also a [...]