The ketogenic diet, commonly known as the keto diet is a diet consisting of high fat, moderate protein and low/very low carbohydrates.
The keto diet was first recognised by its beneficial effects on epileptic children. This form of treatment is and was commonly used when other medications were ineffective, and this form of treatment proved very useful. (Freeman, Kossoff and Hartman, 2007).
This diet is commonly known today, as a weight-loss phenomenon. Is this true? Let’s talk about the facts.
How does it work?
Carbohydrate is the main and largest source of energy in the body. Carbohydrates are consumed and broken down into glucose. Glucose can then be used for a number of different outcomes. One of the many being to fuel muscle contraction (any type of movement). Glucose is easier to breakdown and turn into ATP than fat. Fat oxidation is a much longer process. Yet, still an active energy source for our bodies. To cut a long story short, we need glucose!
After a few days of fasting (no food) or a low carbohydrate diet the central nervous system (the brain and the spinal cord) needs another energy source. This ultimately leads to the production of ketone bodies = fat! (Paoli, 2014)
Our fat stores are then used as a fuel source instead of carbohydrates. Essentially, leading to weight loss.
- There is no doubt that this type of diet will result in weight loss in the short and medium term.
- It can have an effect on reducing hunger due to the satiety effect of protein.
- There is a reduction in fat synthesis and an increased rate of fat breakdown for fuel.
- Consuming little carbohydrate will result in lack of energy and possible fatigue, especially during exercise and possibly lead to decreased performance.
- Eating too much protein can be expensive on the body and problematic for the kidney and digestion, also due to possible lack of fibre.
- Fruit and vegetables are primarily a carbohydrate source, limiting the amount of nutrients and variety in the diet. Which may lead to nutrient deficiency.
So, what does all of this mean?
As the ketogenic diet has proved to be a useful tool in weight loss. Due to the obesity epidemic and the health issues that occur from excess body weight. An effective weight loss strategy may be beneficial.
However, a diet such as this one is lacking in a MAJOR food group, one that should normally be the majority of the diet. This has its repercussions as discussed earlier. It also is encouraging a restrictive and inclusive diet that could possibly cause issues for mental health and relationships with food.
If you are considering trying the keto diet it may be something that would work brilliantly. The diet should only be carried out for a minimum of 2-3 weeks and a maximum of 3-5 months due to the lack of nutrients. It would be dangerous to continue for an extensive period.
Remember, a diet is still a diet. This one is certainly not the healthiest way to live and something that i would not advocate unless excess weight was becoming a danger to your physical well-being. Overweight and obese people are at risk of chronic disease and other issues and it is important to be in a healthy weight range.
The most important thing here. If you are in a healthy weight range, you DO NOT need to lose weight. If you are feeling unhappy about your body/ appearance try exercising or different types of sports/ movement. Losing weight ISN’T always the answer. Most of the time it is NOT.
If you would like to learn more about the keto diet, there is a link below.
Thank you for reading. Follow for more 🙂
Paoli, A., 2014. Ketogenic diet for obesity: friend or foe?. International journal of environmental research and public health, 11(2), pp.2092-2107.
Freeman, J.M., Kossoff, E.H. and Hartman, A.L., 2007. The ketogenic diet: one decade later. Pediatrics, 119(3), pp.535-543.