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Who needs a ketogenic diet?

March 22, 2018

Interest in the ketogenic diet increased when it was found to be effective in epileptic and obesity treatments. In cases of epilepsy, a ketogenic diet was also proven to be more effective in the prevention of seizures than medication (Dashti et al,2004).

Low fat diet, or a fat consuming diet?

In recent years dietary studies have found that the Ketogenic diet has a strong physiological and biochemical basis to induce weight loss and diminish the risk of cardiovascular disease (Paoli,2014). Traditionally weight management focuses on reducing dietary fat – often with little positive results over the long-term. The aim of a ketogenic diet is to adapt the body to utilize fat as its primary source of energy and fuel. Our ancestors of old needed to fast like this, when hunts were lean and days could go by without food. It is believed that the body over time developed this secondary source of fuel and can readily feed off its own fats. Researchers are now finding that producing energy from the body’s fat is a healthier and more sustaining source of energy.

We practice the ketogenic diet in our sleep

Ketogenic means keto = keto; genic = producing. It is derived from the term Ketosis which describes a raised level of ketones in the body. Ketosis is a metabolic state when blood levels reach a certain level after caloric restriction. This state usually requires fasting for a number of days. Ketosis occurs due to a change in the body’s fuel, from carbohydrate to fat. A ketogenic diet maintains a state of ketosis (even without being on a ketogenic diet, healthy individuals often experience mild ketosis after a night’s sleep). When the body burns fat for energy (and not from the sugars in dietary carbohydrates) ketones are produced as fats breakdown in the liver. A low carbohydrate ketogenic diet (LCKD) is regarded as a diet when the daily intake of carbohydrates is below 50gm (Westman et al,2003).

Eskimos have a ketogenic diet and hardly suffer from diabetes or heart disease

The traditional Inuit (Eskimo) diet meets the definition of a low carbohydrate ketogenic diet. This is due to its close similarity with macronutrient intake in LCKD obesity studies. Their diet comprises of seal, whale, salmon, and small amounts of berries. The Inuit enjoy low rates of both ischemic heart disease and diabetes mellitus. Although high levels of omega-3 fatty acids contribute to their robust health – the LCKD is believed to be closely linked. The Inuit example with their extremes of macronutrient intake, has led nutritionists to question whether dietary carbohydrate is required for our mobility (Westman et al, 2003).

The Ketogenic diet is a long-term solution to weight management

Other studies have confirmed the beneficial effects of a low carbohydrate ketogenic diet when adhered to over the long term. LCKD was shown to significantly reduce body weight and body mass index (BMI). In addition a ketogenic diet will decrease the level of triglycerides, LDL cholesterol and blood glucose and is shown to increase the level of HDL cholesterol.

Teaching the body to burn fat for fuel

The high fat intake element of the low carbohydrate ketogenic diet encourages the body to utilize fat as its primary source of energy. This includes the extra fat consumed and the body’s stored fat. This can be much healthier than a diet high in carbohydrates where the excess ‘carbs’ are converted into sugars and may provide only a short term energy release. A diet high in carbohydrates increases the sugar and insulin needed for energy. Over time this may lead to extra body fat and insulin resistance and increase the risk of developing diabetes.

Women retain more calcium and lose more weight with a low carbohydrate ketogenic diet

Women are prone to osteoporosis on low fat diets and excrete more calcium needed to protect bones from fractures. A ketogenic diet however, prevents loss of calcium and results in almost double the weight loss compared to a low fat diet (Dashti et al,2004). The ketogenic diet is closely associated with a reduction in the prevalence of obesity and provides superior metabolism (food to energy) to those who do not fast (Westman et al,2003)

To get started on a ketogenic diet..

To begin a ketogenic diet avoid grains and processed foods such as bread, cereals, sugary drinks and vegetables which are high in starches. There are an abundance of low-carb packaged food products, such as protein bars and meal replacement shakes.. However, although these provide fat and protein and are low in sugar and carbs, they contain processed protein powders, refined oils and artificial sweeteners. These are not good for overall health. The products that should be consumed in a low carbohydrate ketogenic diet are; eggs, dairy products, poultry, grass fed meats (where possible) seafood, nuts and seeds. Herbs and spices and condiments are also low in calories and can be included. Leafy green vegetables, coconut oil, butter, heavy whipping cream, mayonnaise and olive oil are all perfect in a high fat – low carb’ ketogenic diet.

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References
Dashti, Hussein M., Thazhumpal C. Mathew, Talib Hussein, Sami K. Asfar, Abdulla Behbahani, Mousa A. Khoursheed, Hilal M. Al-Sayer, Yousef Y. Bo-Abbas, and Naji S. Al-Zaid. 2004. “Long-Term Effects of a Ketogenic Diet in Obese Patients.” Experimental and Clinical Cardiology 9 (3): 200–205.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2716748/
Fan, Shelly. n.d. “The Fat-Fueled Brain: Unnatural or Advantageous?” Scientific American Blog Network. https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/mind-guest-blog/the-fat-fueled-brain-unnatural-or-advantageous/.
www.joslin.org, Joslin Diabetes Center. n.d. “Ketone Testing: What You Need to Know | Joslin Diabetes Center.” http://www.joslin.org/info/ketone_testing_what_you_need_to_know.html.
Joo, Nam-Seok, Duck-Joo Lee, Kwang-Min Kim, Bom-Taeck Kim, Chan-Won Kim, Kyu-Nam Kim, and Sang-Man Kim. 2010. “Ketonuria after Fasting May Be Related to the Metabolic Superiority.” Journal of Korean Medical Science 25 (12): 1771–76.
https://synapse.koreamed.org/DOIx.php?id=10.3346/jkms.2010.25.12.1771
Westman, Eric C., John Mavropoulos, William S. Yancy, and Jeff S. Volek. 2003. “A Review of Low-Carbohydrate Ketogenic Diets.” Current Atherosclerosis Reports 5 (6): 476–83.
http://www.omega3galil.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/A-Review-of-Low-carbohydrate.pdf