Keto diet, or Ketogenic Diet, has quickly gained popularity in the recent years. In a short span of time, it has people talking about it, and the weight loss benefit that it has to offer. Medical professionals, Hollywood stars and fitness experts are even into it, some of them saying that it could possibly repeal the Paleo Diet. But what exactly is the Keto Diet? How does it work? Is it 100% safe? Does it have side effects and is good for a human in the long run?
Ketogenic Diet (A.K.A. Keto Diet)
The Ketogenic Diet is a low-carbohydrate, adequate protein, high-fat diet program that is commonly used medicine to treat "difficult-to-control," epilepsy in children. Nutritionist, Fiona Tuck, said during an interview with HuffPost Australia that "The keto diet is basically a very low-carb diet to encourage the body to use fat as fuel instead of glucose. The lower the carbohydrate intake, the quicker the body enters a fat burning state."
Glucose, which serves as the main source of fuel for the cells in our bodies, is mostly found in carbohydrates. Foods that are rich in carbohydrates are breads, rice, yogurt, beans, potatoes, and sugary sweets. When we choose to dramatically limit our body's carbohydrate intake, we force it to look for a substitute fuel source. This then prompts it to convert its supply of fat to glucose, a process that is called ketosis.
Ketosis and the Amount of Carbohydrates You Need to Lessen
Our bodies begin to burn fat by breaking down reserved fats, enabling it to acquire glucose from triglycerides, a type of fat (lipid) which is found in our blood. Fiona further explains the process by adding "ketosis produces ketone bodies which are produced from the breakdown of fats in the liver. When the body calls on fat stores to supply energy, we lose weight." The ketosis process is fast-acting, which means it affects and shows results in the fastest way possible.
"The positives -- it's a quick and reliable way to lose weight quickly, so it's better suited to someone that needs to lose weight quickly in a short period of time. For example, a morbidly obese person in need of medical intervention," Fiona concluded. But to enter a state ketosis, the body's carbohydrates must be cut off to a certain amount. It's widely accepted for diet enthusiasts, and nutritionists alike, that fewer than 50 grams of carbohydrates is enough to encourage the body to go into ketosis.
A regular Ketogenic Diet usually consists of 5% carbohydrates, 20% protein, and 75% fat, which is equivalent to roughly 10-50 grams of carbohydrates absorbed everyday. You are able to see the huge difference in carbohydrates intake when you compare it to recommended healthy diet, which consists of 30% complex carbohydrates, 20-30% protein, and 20% percent fat. So in general, it is definitely a good way to lose weight, but is it really that good?
Nutritionists have seen in reports that Ketogenic Diet does help improve those with health conditions, some of which include:
PCOS (Polycystic ovary syndrome)
It also increases the level of HDL (High-density lipoprotein), commonly known as "good cholesterol," in our body's. HDL is the one responsible for carrying cholesterol into the liver, where it will either be reused, or excreted away from the body. Your blood pressure also tends to go down, which decreases the chances of having kidney failure, heart disease, stroke, and many more. Overall, it is an effective diet for weight loss for those with health conditions like obesity, insulin resistance, and metabolic resistance. However, too much of anything will always carry with a dangerous after effect. According to Fiona, "If followed under medical supervision for a short period of time, it can be very successful [for weight loss]. However, long term is not recommended due to potential side effects." Oftentimes those that start on a ketogenic diet will reduce their fresh fruit and vegetable intake considerably to reach ketosis more rapidly or because they have not educated themselves on the importance of increasing vegetables during the diet.
The Unsung Side Effects
"Cutting out food groups for a long period of time may also put the body at risk of nutritional deficiencies. Limiting carbohydrate intake means a higher fat and protein intake, leading to possible overconsumption of saturated fats and proteins," Fiona said, which is definitely true in all cases. Extreme Ketogenic Diets promotes that carbohydrate intake should be as low as 5-10 grams a day. Completely cutting out complex carbs like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains could lead to complications, instead of providing healthy results.
Your body can handle going through ketosis for quite some time. But stay on it for too long without increasing your fibre and nutrient intake you'll eventually be experiencing a number of negative side effects like:
Glucose & Cholesterol Issues – Whilst the Ketogenic Diet may prove favourable for many with insulin resistance, it could also possibly lead to the brain inducing insulin resistance, in an effort to preserve glucose for itself.
Headaches and lethargy – A result from the body adapting.
Increase in Levels of Cortisol – Leads to decreased progesterone and irregular menstrual cycles.
Gastrointestinal Issues – Constipation, disruption and starvation of the beneficial gut microbes.
Mood Disorders – Depression and anxiety can be caused due to low intake of carbohydrates.
Possible Thyroid Disruption – TSH increase; T3, T4 decrease.
A prolonged state of extreme ketosis also leads to an increase of acid load in the body. As the blood pH must remain stable, the increased acid load means the body has to work harder at maintaining safe levels. Overall, long-term application of the diet could pose major health risks like, gut issues, a decrease in healthy gut flora, and potential nutritional deficiencies.
To ensure that you are receiving the nutrients you need make sure to eat 2 cups of vegetables with every meal and incorporate a whole food powder such as the Vita-sol Purity for added nutrient intake. Plus the Vita-sol Wholefood Powders are low in carbohydrates so are a suitable nutrient dense choice in the ketogenic program.
In conclusion, Ketogenic Diet may provide a plethora of health benefits, but should be kept in check. It may be beneficial to kick start weight loss, however it is not recommended as a long term dietary solution unless recommended by a qualified health care practitioner to treat a specific type of health condition like obesity, metabolic syndrome, and epilepsy. If you plan on using this type of diet, then it's best that you use a food supplement that'll support your gut and liver.
Vita-sol's Purity Wholefood have organic green blends like Barley Grass, Broccoli, Spirulina, and more, combined together to cleansing and detox. It also contains Choline, a lipotropic fat mobilizing nutrient that supports phase 2 of the liver detoxification process, giving you the best results possible.