The Ketogenic Diet
has become increasingly popular in the last few years, with it being hailed as the “most effective way” to lose weight. Some have even claimed that it reverses the effects of type 2 diabetes. But, does it live up to the title of the “perfect diet”?
What Is It?
It is a low carb, high fat diet that burns fat at a very fast pace. The basic breakdown is this: your body produces fuel molecules known as “ketones”. They are produced when eating very few carbs and moderate amounts of protein (ketosis). Your brain runs on glucose or ketones, meaning eating this diet just produces more fuel for your brain to run on. That in turn gives you more energy throughout the day. Your body will switch its fuel supply to run mostly on fat, making it easy for it to access those fat stores and burn them off.
The list of benefits from this diet is a long one! In the article posted on Diet Doctor, A Ketogenic Diet for Beginners, Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt, MD states that the benefits include:
- Increased weight loss – which can occur at a rapid pace
- Appetite control - “constant access to weeks or months of stored energy, significantly reducing feelings of hunger.” That feeling of being full and less hungry is known as “satiety” and it prevents unnecessary snacking. Some people even eat only twice a day!
- Controlled blood sugar/ reversal of type 2 diabetes – The Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice states that their review “suggests that carbohydrate-restricted diets could be offered to people living with diabetes as part of an individualized management plan”
- Improved health markers – a low carb diet can improve “several important risk factors for heart disease” especially cholesterol.
- Increased energy and mental performance – on this diet the brain is fueled by ketones, an effective brain fuel. “Mental clarity” is something people often experience while on this diet.
- A calmer stomach – people typically have less aches and pains while on keto
- Lastly, increased physical endurance – when you have more access to those fat stores you have more energy, resulting in the ability to keep your body moving more throughout the day (physical endurance). So, you can work out for longer, thus burning more fat! Those fat stores could hold energy for weeks as opposed to the stored carbohydrates lasting hours.
What Can I Eat?
The suggested foods include meat, seafood, eggs, natural fats/high fat sources, vegetables that grow above ground (either fresh or frozen), high fat dairy, nuts, and berries. The available drinks are must more restricted being water, tea, coffee, and possibly wine. Avoid things like fruit, pasta, potatoes, bread, rice, beer, candy, and sodas/juices. Two weeks is the recommended time frame to be the strictest and most in line with this diet. It’s the same time frame it takes for your body to go into full ketosis (running on ketones).
Is It Right for Me?
In an article for the Harvard Health Blog, Dr. Marcelo Campos, MD states that it may be hard to stick with the diet for the long run. Carbs make up at least 50% of the American diet, so cutting carbs down to less than 50 grams of daily consumption is difficult for anyone. When people do attempt to do this diet a lot of them are eating too much protein and the wrong type of or poor-quality fats, meaning processed fats. This occurs so often it’s the main criticism against the diet! You have to do your full research on the food allowances to see the best results. Another concern people who want to start keto have is, if they stop, will they drastically gain the weight back? Dr. Campos just wants people to be aware of “yo-yo diets” and if they really want to lose weight this way that they have to stick with it for the long haul. Dr. Campos’s main concern, and he’s not the only one, is that this diet has been researched in the long term. There isn’t substantial evidence to support that this diet has all the same health benefits after a long period of time. Most of the articles that were read ended with the sentiment that they aren’t sure if this helps long-term but that it does such a great job with immediate results.
It is recommended that is you are taking medications for diabetes and high blood pressure, if you are breast feeding, or if you have a kidney disease that you do not start this diet.
Based off of the articles read and the information given, the best advice would be to ask your doctor about it. What does it hurt to ask? With a diet this strict it’s better to get a well-informed opinion and base your decision on that. And in Dr. Campos’s opinion “A balanced, unprocessed diet, rich in very colorful fruits and vegetables, lean meats, fish, whole grains, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and lots of water seems to have the best evidence for a long, healthier, vibrant life.” So, if you are truly dedicated to losing weight, especially in this style, you typically eat these foods and avoid the others, the Ketogenic Diet is perfect for you!
*Please keep in mind that Hannah is not an expert, and these are suggestions based on research. Please take these suggestions with a grain of salt and at your own discretion.*
-By Hannah Winnewisser, Dreissig Apparel Inc. Intern