- A Person Following a Keto Diet is Most Concerned With Avoiding What?
- What Is Lazy Keto, and Should You Try It?
- What Is Ketosis? Understanding the Benefits of Ketosis
- What Is Ketosis?
- Ketosis Is What Your Body Wants to Be In
- Reduced inflammation
- Improved Fat Burning
- Mental Clarity & Sharpness
- Abundant Energy
- Clearer Skin
- Reduced Cravings
- Mitochondrial Biogenesis
- Reduced Risk of Chronic Disease
- What Is Keto?
- Benefits of a Keto Diet
- Keto is a Gamechanger
- Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline
- What is a carbohydrate?
- What is the ketogenic diet?
- The ketogenic diet as a medical treatment
- What to expect on a ketogenic diet
- The ketogenic diet for weight loss
- What are the effects of a ketogenic diet?
- For more information
- What Is the Ketogenic Diet? Learn the Potential Benefits and Risks
- What is the Ketogenic Diet?
- Foods Not Allowed on a Keto Diet
- So What Can You Eat On A Keto Diet?
- Types of Ketogenic Diets
- What are the Risks of a Ketogenic Diet?
- Positive Uses of the Keto Diet
- The Verdict on Ketogenic Diets
- What is the Ketogenic Diet? (+Foods, Benefits, Risks)
- Ketogenic Diet: Should You Join the Keto Kraze?
- Keto Foods
- Sample Meal Plan
- Health Benefits
- Health Risks and Side-Effects
- Effects on Sports Performance
- Keto and Weight Loss
- Ketone Ester Supplementation
- Should You Do Keto?
- The Pros and Cons of The Ketogenic Diet
- WHAT IS A KETOGENIC DIET?
- PROS OF THE KETOGENIC DIET
- CONS OF THE KETOGENIC DIET
- THE VERDICT
- The under-reported benefits (and drawbacks) of the Keto diet
A Person Following a Keto Diet is Most Concerned With Avoiding What?
Keto Science & Ketosis
- What Is Nutritional Ketosis?
- What could take me out of ketosis?
- What should my ketone level be in ketosis?
- At what time of the day should you test ketone levels?
- How can I tell if I am in ketosis?
- What does ketosis breathe smell like?
- How do I get started with a ketogenic program?
- What changes to my urine can I expect? How do you get rid of ketones in your urine?
- Won’t I go into “starvation mode” during ketosis?
- What are carb-withdrawal symptoms? What does sugar withdrawal feel like?
- What is “keto flu”? What are the signs of keto flu? How long does it take to get over it?
- Common terms and abbreviations on a ketogenic diet.
- What is the Restricted Ketogenic Diet (RKD)?
- What is the Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD)?
- What is the Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD)?
- How long does it take to get into ketosis?
- Is it good to be in ketosis?
Weight Loss & Diets
- Is it possible to gain weight on a low carb keto diet?
- Do I have to exercise to lose weight on the ketogenic diet?
- Will a ketogenic diet help me get rid of cellulite?
- What is the lowest body fat percentage that is still healthy?
- Do calories matter on keto? Do I need to count them?
- What happens to your body when you are in ketosis? How does the keto diet work?
Keto Food & Nutrition
- What are fat bombs?
- Are tomatoes ketogenic?
- Are beans ketogenic?
- Are artichokes ketogenic?
- Are bananas ketogenic?
- Are nitrates in bacon safe?
- Are fermented foods allowed on keto?
- What about sugar alcohols on keto?
- Can I drink alcohol on keto?
- Can I drink coffee, black tea and eat dark chocolate during keto? How about caffeine?
- What can you drink on the keto diet?
- What foods are high in ketones?
- Are peanuts ketogenic?
- Can I eat nuts on keto?
- How much magnesium do I need on keto?
- How much potassium do I need on keto?
- Do our bodies need carbs? Doesn’t our brain need glucose?
- What’s the difference between impact and non-impact carbs?
- What is the difference between total carbs and net carbs? Which should I count?
- How much and how often should I eat on keto?
- How much protein should I be eating on a ketogenic diet?
Fasting & Exercise On Keto
- A Person Following a Keto Diet is Most Concerned With Avoiding What?
- Should I be worried about low blood sugar on keto or during intermittent fasting?
- What is MCT oil in bulletproof coffee?
- Do I need to take fiber supplements on keto?
- How do I replenish electrolytes on keto?
- Should I take raspberry ketones on the ketogenic diet?
Keto Health & Medicine
- Where can I buy keto strips?
- Is the keto diet safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding?
- Can a ketogenic diet cause hair loss?
- How does the ketogenic diet impact the liver?
- Is a ketogenic diet safe for the kidneys?
- Can a ketogenic diet cause diarrhea?
- Is a ketogenic diet safe for people with high cholesterol?
- Is a ketogenic diet anti-inflammatory?
- Can ketosis lead to ketoacidosis? What is the difference between ketoacidosis and ketosis?
- Can a ketogenic diet cause diabetes?
- What are the health benefits of ketogenic diets?
Keto Troubleshooting & Tips
- Why am I still not in ketosis? And what can I do about it?
Keto Motivation & Success
- How do I deal with sugar cravings on keto?
- Is a keto diet going to cost me more than the way I eat now? Can you do keto on a budget?
- What is the impact of having carb-up days / cheat days every now and then?
What Is Lazy Keto, and Should You Try It?
Like the traditional keto diet, lazy keto may lead dieters to experience the keto flu when they are first transitioning to a keto diet. This includes symptoms of nausea, headache, fatigue, constipation, and dizziness (19).
Lazy keto also has several other pitfalls worth noting.
You may not reach ketosis
Lazy keto is appealing to many because it’s less restrictive and easier to follow than the traditional ketogenic diet.
The goal of lazy keto is to induce a metabolic state called ketosis, in which your body mainly burns fat for fuel. Researchers attribute many of the potential health benefits of ketogenic diets to this metabolic state (16).
However, while on this simplified version of the keto diet, you may not enter a state of ketosis, which has several signs and symptoms.
To reach ketosis, not only do you have to severely restrict your carb and fat intake but also monitor your protein intake. That’s because your body can convert protein into glucose — a carbohydrate — in a process called gluconeogenesis (19, 20).
Eating too much protein on lazy keto could prevent ketosis altogether.
Calories and diet quality still matter
Solely focusing on your carb intake, as you would on lazy keto, ignores the importance of adequate calorie intake and diet quality.
A well-balanced diet that includes a wide variety of foods can supply your body with all the nutrients it needs for overall health (21).
Unfortunately, like the traditional keto diet, lazy keto limits many nutrient-rich food groups like fruits, starchy vegetables, grains, and legumes. This may make it difficult to obtain essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Also, it can be difficult to meet all of your nutrient requirements when you reduce your calorie intake, which is likely if you’re using lazy keto to induce weight loss (22).
Therefore, it’s very important to focus on consuming nutrient-rich foods — not just decreasing your carb intake.
Lack of research behind long-term effects
No studies have been conducted on lazy keto specifically. Long-term studies on similar diets, such as the classic ketogenic diet and modified Atkins diet, are also limited (19).
There are concerns that lazy keto — and high-fat diets in general — may harm heart health over time, despite the weight loss they may induce (20, 21).
One review of 19 studies compared low-carb, high-fat diets with balanced weight loss diets. It found they had similar weight loss benefits and were equally effective at decreasing risk factors for heart disease after 1–2 years (22).
Another analysis found that low-carb, high-fat diets resulted in greater weight loss than low-fat diets in the long-term (23).
However, the researchers also found that high-fat diets were associated with higher cholesterol levels, which may increase your risk of heart disease (23).
That said, the type of fat you eat on a high-fat diet may make a big difference.
Research shows that choosing sources of healthy, unsaturated fats, such as fatty fish, nuts, and olive oil, while following a keto diet may help prevent increases in risk factors for heart disease (24, 25, 26).
In addition, the long-term effects of following ketogenic diets are unknown due to a lack of long-term studies. It’s unclear if keto diets are safe or beneficial to follow over years or decades.
Summary Lazy keto ignores the importance of your overall diet quality and may not induce the metabolic state of ketosis. The long-term effects of keto diets are poorly studied, and more research is needed.
What Is Ketosis? Understanding the Benefits of Ketosis
While your body will experience a ton of benefits when doing keto, one of the main benefits that cause people’s ears to perk up is when they hear about the weight loss that happens.
The basis behind this weight loss is a metabolic state that your body goes into known as ketosis.
In fact, the whole purpose of the ketogenic diet is to get your body into ketosis. Without ketosis, there is no keto.
But what exactly is ketosis? That’s what we are going to explore in this post.
What Is Ketosis?
In our Keto Bootstrap program we take the approach that the more knowledge you have about keto and what it does to your body, the better chances of success that you will have. That’s why we start all members off with a 5-day boot camp before really diving into the diet.
You might roll your eyes at the science part of a diet but it’s essential to understanding why something works and why it doesn’t. So with that being said let’s dive.
When you deprive your body of carbohydrates, which are the main fuel source for people, you’re also depriving your body of it’s ability to keep glycogen stores filled up.
When this happens it needs to find another fuel source so your body starts to transition to a metabolic state known as ketosis. When your body is in ketosis, it begins to convert fat into ketones which become your body’s new fuel source.
But what are ketones?
Ketones, also known as “ketone bodies”, are byproducts of the body breaking down fat for energy. It’s that simple.
There are 3 types of ketones:
- Acetoacetate: this is created from the breakdown of fatty acids and is either converted into BHB or acetone.
- Beta-Hydroxybutyric Acid (BGB): formed from acetoacetate and is technically not a ketone but for the sake of the ketogenic diet we consider it one.
- Acetone: this is created from acetoacetate and it breaks down quickly. If you’re wondering why you get bad breath at the beginning of keto it’s because this ketone is expelled through your breath and waste.
Why Does Our Body Need Ketones?
We are spoiled in a time where a lot of us have access to food whenever we want. A healthy number of people, unfortunately, don’t have that luxury today and even more didn’t have it in the past.
The reason why the human body can survive weeks without food is because it was made to use up the available resources it contains and for most people the abundant resource is fat.
When you go a couple of days without eating, your glycogen stores are quickly used up and instead of your body going comatose it shifts gears so it can use a different energy source which are ketones.
Testing Ketone Levels
There are a couple of different ways to see if your body is in ketosis and each have their level of trustworthiness.
The most common method for checking ketone levels in your body is by using urine strips. They are cheap to purchase and they show you the level of ketones that your body is getting rid of and this is why they aren’t as accurate for testing ketosis as people want to believe.
While it’s great to see your body producing ketones, that’s all the stripes will tell you. If you take the test in the morning you might see different results in the afternoon and in the evening.
That means you might take one test and think you’re not in ketosis and take another a couple hours later and think that you are.
The strips are a good sign of your body producing more ketones than you are burning but not necessarily a sign of being in ketosis.
Blood Glucose Meter
A blood glucose meter is a more expensive alternative for testing through urine strips but is a lot more accurate because it tests ketone levels in your blood.
If you want to test frequently it can get pretty costly due to each strip costing between $5-$10.
How Long Does It Take?
So how long does it take before your body goes into ketosis and starts producing ketones? That’s wholly dependent on the person and what steps they take.
Some people enter ketosis faster than others. In out 3-Day Weight Loss Manual we provide you with a technique to enter ketosis as quickly as possible.
It starts with a one-day fast, then goes into eating the right foods to make sure you’re depleting your body of its glycogen stores. The goal is to remove these glycogen stores as quickly as possible to help your body enter ketosis.
There are a number of awesome benefits to being in ketosis that go beyond losing weight. Here are a couple.
Better Mental Focus
Ketones are a consistent fuel source for your body, unlike carbs that go through spikes. Because of this, your brain has a consistent energy source to pull from which leads to better mental focus.
You aren’t left with a foggy brain so if you find yourself needing to improve your mental focus, keto is a great way to accomplish that naturally.
Have you ever seen long-distance runner pop those gel packs in the middle of a race? The reason why is because they need to replenish their glycogen stores.
On keto, you’re not relying on glycogen so instead of popping gel packs you just keep on trucking.
The exception to this is people that do high-intensity, short bursts workouts like bodybuilders. In their case, they may consider an alternate ketogenic diet where they load up on carbs before a workout.
Ketogenic diets have been proven to help people that have epilepsy.
In fact, the ketogenic was first introduced as a treatment for people with epilepsy back in the 1920s. One of the major benefits of the ketogenic diet for people that suffer from epilepsy is that they don’t have to take as many medications.
Over the years many studies have shown that cancer cells feed off of sugar. Fortunately, cancer cells don’t know how to use ketones as a fuel source so if you remove sugars from your diet, it’s been shown to stop the growth of cancerous cells.
While keto itself is not going to cure cancer it can go a long way in helping to treat it.
Your body can easily get into ketosis, but there is an optimal level of ketosis.
The range you want to be in for optimal ketosis is anywhere between 1.5-3mmol/l. I know this doesn’t make much sense to you now, but if you use one of the three options listed previously, you’ll understand your ketone levels much more.
It is possible to have too many ketones in your body and this could cause some health issues. It’s called ketoacidosis. This happens when your ketone levels are 10+mmol/l. The good news is that this is impossible to achieve on a regular ketogenic diet.
If you are in ketoacidosis, seek help immediately. There is a severe problem with your body. You will start having nausea, stomach pain, and this could eventually lead to a coma.
Like I said, this is a rare occurrence and really shouldn’t be a worry. This should only be a worry if you have type 1 diabetes because your pancreas will produce insulin to some degree, even though it won’t be much.
Ketosis Is What Your Body Wants to Be In
As you can now see, ketosis is a natural body state and is not something new. Our ancestors survived due to ketosis and it can help change the lives of people today.
However, without understanding of what ketosis is and its benefits, many people will still scoff at the idea of limiting carbs in their diet.
If you want to experience all the benefits of ketosis, but aren’t sure how to go about it, joining Keto Bootstrap can help you get started. You will also see that there are other people out there that are going through exactly what you are and having success like you will eventually have.
9 Proven Benefits Of A Ketogenic Diet
The ketogenic diet has emerged suddenly almost as a fad diet where people are showcasing their dramatic weight loss results all over social media. What is different about the ketogenic diet, however, is that it actually creates remarkable beneficial changes in the body that drastically improve wellbeing. There are foundational physiological changes that occur in the body that attribute for the benefits of a ketogenic diet. These benefits make this style of eating much more profound than any old fad diet.
The way I recommend implementing a ketogenic diet can be used not only for weight loss, but also for increased energy, performance, and even for improving the body’s ability to overcome certain health conditions.
There is definitely more than one way to follow a ketogenic diet. Technically, eating cheese wrapped in salami is ketogenic, however this is obviously far from ideal. The way I see it, following a ketogenic diet is super beneficial primarily for its anti-inflammatory and mitochondrial-stimulatory benefits.
To ensure maximum benefits, I like to recommend a ketogenic diet that is high in HEALTHY fats, clean sourced proteins, and tons of antioxidant-rich vegetables and herbs. This combination of flooding the body with nutrients along with a ketogenic diet is where it truly becomes therapeutic.
One of the most basic and most profound benefits of a ketogenic diet is that it drastically lowers inflammation (1). This is mainly due to the reduced amount of free radical production that occurs when burning ketones for energy instead of glucose. Less inflammation allows for more energy production and an overall more efficiently functioning body. This allows for a heightened ability of the body to heal in many different aspects.
Another reason that a ketogenic diet is so anti-inflammatory is that it allows blood sugar and insulin to stabilize. Blood sugar imbalance is one of the most pervasive inflammatory activities that goes on in the bodies of people who are heavily relying on sugar for energy.
Because of this anti-inflammatory benefit, a ketogenic diet may be well suited for improving cancer outcomes, autoimmunity, neurological disorders, and metabolic disorders alike.
Improved Fat Burning
By definition, being in a state of ketosis means you are burning fat for energy. If you have excess body fat, you will be able to burn it at a much more efficient rate.
In fact, there are several recent studies showing that a high-fat, low-carb diet is superior to a low-fat, high-carb diet for improving weight loss and improving lipid profiles (2).
Being overweight is considered a risk factor for several diseases. Additionally, having excess body fat (particularly in the gut) is associated with hormone imbalances and toxin accumulation in the body.
Mental Clarity & Sharpness
One of the first benefits you will likely notice when following a ketogenic diet is that your brain feels sharper. Neurological inflammation is insidious and has been linked with depression, anxiety, and poor cognitive function (3).
Inflammation is always present in the body. Some is advantageous, however, too much quickly becomes a problem. While there are many strategies to combat unnecessary inflammation, a ketogenic diet is a powerful tool to have.
This benefit makes keto helpful for neurological disorders as well as generally improve mental performance.
You have increased amounts of energy for several reasons when following a ketogenic diet.
- Lowered Inflammation
- Upregulation of Mitochondrial Biogenesis
- More ATP per Molecule of ketone vs glucose
- Stable Blood Sugar
Combined, these benefits drastically increase energy output in the body. Mitochondria are basically your energy factories. So, taken together you get less inflammation, more efficient energy production, AND more energy production factories that result in an overall increase in energetic potential of your body.
Skin conditions like eczema, acne, and psoriasis are often rooted in chronic inflammation or autoimmunity. Often, inflammatory processes unnecessarily attack different structures of the skin which results in various conditions. For example, acne is associated with inflammation of the sebaceous glands in the skin whereas eczema is generalized inflammation of the skin cells.
Things like chemical exposure, environmental allergies, chronic stress, hormone imbalance, and imbalances in gut bacteria can all contribute to these skin conditions. While the factors should also be addressed, following a ketogenic diet can also help to quickly lower inflammation and accelerate healing.
Many people don’t realize how much their lives revolve around their next meal. Sudden intense hunger pangs and mood changes are seen as common and normal in our society. In reality, these things are caused by chronic blood sugar instability signaling the brain that you are starving. This is where the sudden urge to eat NOW comes from.
If you find yourself getting hangry a lot, you likely are dealing with blood sugar instability.
Getting into a state of ketosis balances blood sugar, provides the brain with stable energy, and completely eliminates cravings. In fact, I often have people tell me that they barely think about food between meals anymore.
I briefly touched upon this benefit already, but this one is profound. Most of us have been using sugar for energy our entire lives, this is what our mitochondria are comfortable with. The initial phases of keto-adaptation actually act as a powerful stressor and stimulus to your mitochondria.
During the transition phase, as your cells are stimulated to burn fat, old and weak mitochondria die off. This may sound harmful, but it actually stimulates the growth of new and stronger mitochondria (4). This typically equates to a higher amount of energy production.
As we’ve talked about already, improved energy production has a broad beneficial impact on the body’s ability to heal and perform in general.
There are many theories about what causes aging. The commonly held belief up until recently was that it solely depended on the rate at which your telomeres shorten. What we are beginning to understand is that mitochondrial health may be more foundational.
Because mitochondria have such a profound impact on energy production, inflammation levels, and gene expression (and therefore overall function of the body), the mitochondrial theory of aging has emerged (5).
In fact, it is thought that other anti-aging strategies like prolonged fasting work by promoting mitochondrial health and biogenesis.
Reduced Risk of Chronic Disease
Finally, if you haven’t come to the conclusion already, a ketogenic diet may protect your body against a wide array of disease processes. The combination of anti-inflammatory effects along with improve mitochondrial function simply allows the body to heal and mitigate disease processes much more effectively.
It can be hard to conceptualize but a huge proportion of modern chronic diseases are rooted in chronic inflammation and mitochondrial dysfunction. Just a short list might include:
- Auto-Immune Conditions
- Neurodegenerative Processes
- Chronic Fatigue
- Heart Disease
This list could go on, but you probably are beginning to understand the implications of having healthy mitochondria. A ketogenic diet is a foundational strategy for mitigating your risk of many of the chronic diseases we are facing today.
A ketogenic diet can improve your health in many ways. Lowering inflammation and improving mitochondrial energy output can drastically improve your life and lower your risk of acquiring many chronic diseases.
If you are looking to implement a ketogenic diet into your life and don’t know where to begin, these articles can be great resources for you: How To Follow A Ketogenic Diet & 10 Critical Ketogenic Diet Tips. I have also developed an in-depth program that provides you with everything you need to implement a ketogenic diet for maximum benefits: Ketogenic Program.
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When people hear about the ketogenic diet one of the first questions they ask is what’s so good about it? This is a good question to ask so in this post I’m going to show you the wonderful benefits of the keto diet.
First things first it’s important to understand what the ketogenic diet actually is and what it’s all about.
What Is Keto?
The ketogenic diet is a low carb, moderate protein, and high-fat diet. The goal of the diet is to get your body into a metabolic state known as ketosis.
What is ketosis?
Ketosis occurs when your body has run out of its glycogen (basically sugar) stores so it needs to find another fuel source. When this occurs your liver begins to process fat into ketones which become your body’s main fuel source.
So to recap fat -> ketones = energy.
With that quick summary out of the way let’s explore the benefits of the ketogenic diet.
Benefits of a Keto Diet
Many other diets suffer from only having a single benefit and that is weight loss. The problem with this being the only benefit is that it becomes a lot easier to fall off the wagon.
Keto has numerous benefits due to how it changes your body’s chemistry. Your body is much more efficient when it has ketones as a fuel source.
1. Weight Loss
This, of course, is the main benefit that people look for. Because fat becomes a source of energy your body actively burns fat when it needs more energy instead of looking for glucose.
But how does the actual process work?
When your body enters ketosis, both your blood sugar and insulin levels drop. This actually gives the fat cells the ability to release the water they’ve been retaining and this is why initially, most people see a big drop in weight loss due to losing water.
Please Note: Women suffering from PCOS that have high blood sugar and insulin levels should start to look into these natural alternatives to metformin.
After that occurs the fat cells are small enough to enter the bloodstream and enter the liver where they can be converted into ketones.
The process continues as you move along the keto journey as long as you put yourself in a caloric deficit.
2. Appetite Control
An amazing thing happens when your diet isn’t carb-heavy. You find that you’re not as hungry as often and you don’t end up with random cravings that cause you to eat bad things.
Many people that go on keto are able to do intermittent fasting where they only eat during a set period of the day. This is possible because your stomach isn’t rumbling around telling you that you need to eat a donut.
What happens when you aren’t consistently looking for things to eat?
3. Better Mental Focus
The problem with carbs as an energy source is that they cause your blood sugar levels to rise and fall. Because the energy source isn’t consistent it’s harder for your brain to stay focused for long periods of time.
When you’re in ketosis and your brain uses ketones as a fuel source, it has a consistent fuel source that it can rely on which means you can focus for longer periods of time.
You also don’t have a cloudy mind.
It’s really hard to explain the feeling because when you’re eating carbs you don’t realize that your mind isn’t at 100%. Once you’re in ketosis you will begin to see the difference, especially if you spend a day or two eating carbs again.
4. More Energy
Your body can only store so much glycogen and because of this, you need to constantly refuel if you want to maintain your energy levels.
However, your body already has plenty of fat to work with and it can store more fat so that means in ketosis it has an energy source that will never run out.
This means that you’ll find yourself with more energy throughout the day.
Can you imagine a world where you don’t feel like you need to take a nap after lunch?
That is the lifestyle of ketogenic.
5. Helps Fight Type II Diabetes
People that suffer from Type II Diabetes suffer from an increased production of insulin. Because the ketogenic diet removes sugars from the diet, it helps to lower the HbA1c count and can effectively reverse Type II diabetes.
Studies have shown that adhering to a ketogenic diet can reduce key markers that are related to type II diabetes.
6. Increases levels of HDL Cholesterol
When people hear this one they usually panic but there are two types of cholesterol: HDL and LDL.
HDL is the good cholesterol that carries cholesterol away from the body and to the liver where it can be reused or excreted. LDL, on the other hand, carries cholesterol from the liver and to the rest of the body.
On keto, the level of triglycerides in your body decreases, while the HDL levels increase. The Triglycerides:HDL ratio is a strong indicator of heart disease. The higher it is, the greater your risk of heart disease.
7. Lowers Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a sign of future heart problems. Keto does a wonderful job of helping to lower blood pressure. When my grandmother integrated the ketogenic diet into her life she found that she was able to stop taking her blood pressure medicine.
Keto is a Gamechanger
One of the great things about keto that isn’t mentioned above is the variety of delicious recipes that you get to make. If I told you that you can add butter and cheese to what you want would you be disappointed?
This doesn’t include the awesome fat bombs that you can make.
The ketogenic diet is much more than a diet. It really becomes a lifestyle that you adapt to and we have found that it has completely changed our lives for the better.
That is why we’ve created a program to help people integrate keto into their lives. The 28-Day Weight Loss Challenge is our ketogenic program that will help walk you through all things keto. You’ll get to join a community of others on the keto journey along with getting 1-on-1 help so whenever you have a question, someone is there to help.
With 100s of members losing 1000s of pounds each week, we love to see the positive impact that keto is having on people’s lives.
Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline
What is a carbohydrate?
Carbohydrates, or ‘carbs’, are an important nutrient. They are an excellent source of energy for the body and brain. Most foods that contain carbohydrates also provide vitamins, minerals and fibre for good bowel health.
What is the ketogenic diet?
People on a ketogenic diet eat a very small amount of carbohydrates, a moderate amount of protein and a high amount of fat per day. This means that the body burns fat for fuel, as its main source of fuel and breaks it down into ‘ketone bodies’ (or ‘ketones’) in a process called ketosis.
People on a ketogenic diet usually eat only 20 to 50g of carbohydrates per day. As an example, 50g of carbohydrate is equivalent to 2 slices of bread and a banana.
Carbs make up about one tenth of daily kilojoule intake in a ketogenic diet (a kilojoule is a measure of how much energy we get from food). This means the person’s body stays in a constant state of ketosis.
Evidence shows that the diet may be suitable for some people with certain medical conditions, but there is very limited evidence that healthy people should use it as a long-term diet.
The ketogenic diet as a medical treatment
Evidence suggests that a ketogenic diet, under the supervision of a doctor or dietitian, is useful for children with epilepsy who continue to have seizures while on antiepileptic drugs. There is growing interest in its use in cancer, particularly in brain cancer, although more studies are needed on humans before this can be recommended.
For people who have type 2 diabetes, a ketogenic diet may improve blood sugar control in the short term. However, the long-term effects are not known, particularly on cholesterol levels, which increased in some studies.
What to expect on a ketogenic diet
A typical ketogenic diet significantly reduces a person’s intake of rice, pasta, fruit, grains, bread, beans and starchy vegetables such as peas and potatoes. For example, the Dietitians Association of Australia says that this could restrict you to the carbohydrate levels of only a small tub of yoghurt, a medium-sized potato and one apple a day.
Many Australians find it hard to meet the recommended daily intakes of wholegrains, vegetables and fruit a day. The Australian Dietitians Association says that being on a ketogenic diet can make it harder to reach these targets without supplements.
A ketogenic diet should always be followed in consultation with your doctor or an accredited practising dietitian, to ensure that you get the right amount and types of fats, fibre and vitamins, as well as minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron and potassium.
The ketogenic diet for weight loss
The ketogenic diet is often promoted for weight loss in healthy people.
There have been only limited and small studies on the ketogenic diet for weight loss. These studies have shown that the diet has short-term benefits in some people including weight loss and improvements in total cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure, but at one year these effects are about the same as those of conventional weight loss diets.
While a ketogenic diet can be fast and effective in the short term, it can be hard to maintain because it’s very limiting. This means a large number of people tend to drop out of the diet, contributing to unhealthy, ‘yo-yo’ dieting behaviour. The key to maintaining a healthy weight in the long-term is an eating pattern that you can sustain over time.
It is important to remember that people have different needs, and that no single weight-loss diet suits everyone. A ketogenic diet may be an option for some people who have had difficulty losing weight with other methods, but if you choose to go on a ketogenic diet, it’s best to be under the supervision of a doctor and an accredited practising dietitian.
What are the effects of a ketogenic diet?
Some of the possible short-term negative effects of a keto diet include:
- bad breath
- feeling sick
For more information
- Talk to your doctor.
- Find an accredited practising dietitian from the Dietitians Association of Australia, or call 1800 812 942.
- Call the healthdirect helpline to speak with a registered nurse on 1800 022 222.
- Visit Epilepsy Action Australia or call 1300 37 45 37.
- Visit Epilepsy Australia or call 1300 852 853.
What Is the Ketogenic Diet? Learn the Potential Benefits and Risks
From the South Beach Diet to the Atkins Diet, you’ve probably heard of low-carb diets in one form or another over the years. These days, the ketogenic diet has become one of the most prominent low-carb nutrition plans around. Before you start eating this way, though, it’s important to learn more about what’s involved.
How the ketogenic diet works
So, what is the ketogenic diet? It’s a way of eating that restricts how many grams of carbohydrates you have each day. In place of carbs, you increase the amount of fat and protein in your diet. Most of your meals will be made with meats, eggs, cheeses, nuts and low-carb veggies like broccoli and spinach.
People on a ketogenic diet get about 70% of their daily calories from fat, about 25% from protein and about 5% from carbohydrates. Fat is great at helping you feel full for longer periods of time. Many people turn to a keto diet to lose weight because the feeling of fullness keeps them from overeating.
Switching to this type of diet puts your body into a state called ketosis. Normally, your body prefers using carbohydrates for energy because it can process them easily. When you restrict the amount of carbs you eat, you go into ketosis — a state where your metabolism starts burning fat to get energy instead of using carbs.
Risks of the ketogenic diet
Scientists are still researching the ketogenic diet to learn more about how it can affect people. As a result, we still don’t fully know if it’s a sustainable, healthy way of eating for long-term periods. Research shows there may be some risks and downsides to eating this restricted diet.
Low-carb diets may strain your kidneys and raise your cholesterol levels. Eating red meat and other high-fat proteins might increase the “bad” cholesterol in your body, which puts you at risk for developing heart disease. In addition, the higher amounts of protein in this diet can stress your kidneys — it’s important to drink more water on this diet than you usually do.
A keto diet really restricts what you can and can’t eat. Pastas, starchy vegetables, most fruits and sugary desserts are all off the table. Because all these nutrient sources are removed from your diet, low-carb eating may make it so you don’t get enough of some vitamins and minerals. Sodium, magnesium and potassium levels in your body all tend to drop on this diet. You may need to supplement with sugarless electrolyte drinks.
Benefits of the ketogenic diet
Following a ketogenic diet may be highly beneficial, especially if you have excess weight to lose or have Type 2 diabetes. Carbohydrates cause insulin spikes that can then raise blood sugar levels. When you eat fewer carbs on a keto diet, it keeps your blood sugar and insulin levels even. You’ll feel more energetic and your moods will likely be happier, too.
Various studies suggest that eating a ketogenic diet may do everything from lowering your risk of cancer and Alzheimer’s disease to helping your brain heal faster after an injury. In addition, losing weight on a low-carb diet can improve your overall risk of heart disease by lowering your body fat, blood sugar and blood pressure.
It’s vital to check with your doctor before you make any large changes to your diet. Whether you have Type 2 diabetes or are looking for a promising way to lose weight, the ketogenic diet may help. Visit mercy.com to find a provider near you today.
In 2018, “keto” was the most Googled diet and food category in the world. This way of eating has attracted millions of people looking to lose weight and reap its other purported benefits. So, are they on to a cutting-edge biohack? Or dangerously misguided?
What is the Ketogenic Diet?
There are a few different kinds of ketogenic diets (more on that later). But what they all have in common is a severe reduction in carbohydrate intake. This puts your body into a metabolic state known as ketosis.
Ketosis occurs when your body metabolizes fat, instead of carbohydrates, to produce energy. This process produces ketones — a type of acid — in your blood as a by-product.
It’s actually pretty cool that our bodies can do this. It was once a useful survival tool for our ancestors.
We wouldn’t have made it as a species without our body’s ability to temporarily use fat when we couldn’t find enough carbohydrate-rich foods. When food was scarce, our ancestors got through hard times due to stored fat, which provided a buffer when they went days without eating.
As this process existed as an evolutionary tool, there’s even evidence that challenging the body through fasting-induced ketosis every so often yields health benefits. The fancy term for this phenomenon is “hormesis,” meaning certain stressors in certain doses at certain intervals can actually make us stronger. (Lifting weights to break down muscle fibers is a familiar example of hormesis in action.)
But the modern ketogenic diet movement as we know it doesn’t typically focus on temporary or intermittent fasting as a survival tool. The keto diet seeks to keep the body in a permanent state of ketosis by severely restricting carbohydrates and compensating with loads of fat and protein as an energy source.
So is the keto diet healthy? What exactly do you eat on a ketogenic diet? And what foods do you avoid?
Foods Not Allowed on a Keto Diet
Carbohydrates are the enemy on a keto diet. Foods not allowed on a ketogenic diet include sugary foods, grains and starches, alcohol, most fruit, beans and legumes, root vegetables and tubers (e.g., sweet potatoes, beets, carrots), low-fat or diet products, and some condiments or sauces. In fact, your entire carbohydrate consumption might be less than you’d derive from a single apple a day.
But a ketogenic diet doesn’t distinguish between “good carbs” like lentils and “bad carbs” like lollipops.
While it’s great that it eliminates refined sugar, white flour, and many processed foods, keto also forbids some of the healthiest foods on the planet.
Avoiding whole, plant-based carbs like fruit, legumes, and grains means that you’re likely to be dangerously deficient in antioxidants, phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals. And all of these are important for disease prevention and long-term health.
You’ll also likely miss out on adequate fiber, which is no small matter. About 97% of the US population is already deficient in fiber. This puts you at increased risk of heart disease and several digestive cancers, as well as breast cancer.
So What Can You Eat On A Keto Diet?
Eating plant-based fats from nuts, seeds, and avocados makes good sense. And plenty of studies show us that low-carb vegetables (and actually, pretty much all fruits and veggies) are terrific health boosters. But as you can see, most of the calories of keto eaters typically come from animal products.
Given the overwhelming body of evidence linking consumption of meat and other animal products to cancer, Alzheimer’s and heart disease, the fact that most keto diets rely heavily on animal products seems like a recipe for long-term health problems.
Types of Ketogenic Diets
There are five main types of ketogenic diets.
- The standard ketogenic diet is a very low carbohydrate, moderate protein, high fat diet. These macronutrients make up 5%, 20%, and 75% of the diet, respectively. However, you can consume as much as 90% fat.
- The cyclical ketogenic diet includes higher carbohydrate days to refeed your body. For example, you might follow the standard ketogenic diet for five days, followed by two days of high carbohydrate intake.
- The targeted ketogenic diet allows you to eat more carbohydrates around exercise to help fuel your workouts.
- The high protein ketogenic diet is similar to the standard version, but focuses even more on protein intake with a ratio of 35% protein, 60% fat, and 5% carbs.
- And the plant-based ketogenic diet relies heavily on high-fat plant foods such as nuts, seeds, avocados, coconut, and bottled oils, in addition to relatively low-calorie greens.
Standard & high protein ketogenic diets are the most common; cyclical and targeted are mainly used by athletes.
While a plant-based keto diet may sound nice to folks who are grossed out by the notion of basing their diet around animal products, it often derives a surprising amount of calories from fish or other meats. Vegan keto eaters tend to eat large amounts of nuts, oils, avocados, and coconut. And they may still be deficient in any number of antioxidants, phytochemicals, fiber, and other nutrients that are important for long-term health.
What are the Risks of a Ketogenic Diet?
When beginning a ketogenic diet, some people may experience a set of symptoms dubbed the “keto flu.”
These symptoms can include, but are not limited to:
Symptoms usually last for around a week or so as the body adjusts to the lack of carbohydrates.
Due to possible symptoms of keto flu, such as diarrhea and vomiting, along with the fact that most of the initial weight loss on a keto diet is water weight, hydration (with electrolytes) is especially important.
Animal products have zero fiber, so we need to rely on plants to get our fiber. But since the keto diet relies so heavily on fat and restricts all carbs, including fruits and vegetables, it can be a recipe for developing nutrient deficiencies.
Fiber itself is an essential nutrient — particularly prebiotic fiber. Prebiotic fiber feeds the good bacteria in your gut. And it also helps your body absorb nutrients from food and eliminate waste and toxins.
Fruits and vegetables contain high amounts of fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals. And you won’t find many of these nutrients in animal products or high-fat foods.
High-carb foods like beans, bananas, and oats also contribute to your body’s electrolyte stores. These are more easily lost on the keto diet from excess water extraction. And a lack of these and other nutrients has been shown to contribute to a variety of chronic diseases such as heart disease, osteoporosis, cancer, and mental health disorders.
Disease Complications or Death
Not to scare you, but the ketogenic diet has been shown to increase the risk of disease complications, and even (for some people) premature death.
People with diabetes can have a more severe type of ketosis called ketoacidosis if they don’t have enough insulin. Ketones build up and change the chemical balance of their blood. The combination of acidity in the blood and dehydration from fluid loss can cause organ damage, coma, or death.
In 2018, the European Society of Cardiology found that people who followed a low-carb diet had the highest risk of overall cardiovascular, cerebrovascular (like stroke), and cancer death.
The ketogenic diet is also not recommended for patients with pancreatitis, liver failure, disorders of fat metabolism, or kidney disease because of certain long-term recorded effects such as fatty liver disease, kidney stones, and dehydration related symptoms, which may complicate these diseases.
Positive Uses of the Keto Diet
The keto diet has been successfully used to treat intractable epilepsy in children since the 1920s. But the original ketogenic diet fell out of use after World War II with the development of more effective anti-epileptic drugs. Then, interest was revitalized again in the 1990s thanks to an epileptic boy named Charlie Abrahams.
Charlie had up to 100 seizures a day with no relief from medication until his parents learned about the diet in a medical textbook. His seizures stopped almost immediately, and he remained on the diet for five years.
In 1994, Charlie’s family created The Charlie Foundation for Ketogenic Therapies. The foundation helped spread awareness about the diet and assist other children with epilepsy.
Although the ketogenic diet has been used to treat children with epilepsy, and shows some promise, it’s rarely recommended because of how strict it is. It’s generally only prescribed in severe cases of epilepsy and only under the care of both a medical doctor and dietician.
Nearly 70% of all Americans are overweight or obese. Obesity is correlated with a higher risk of nearly every major chronic disease of our times.
The #1 thing that people go on a keto diet for is rapid weight loss. And research tells us that keto diets can be effective at helping people lose weight — at least in the short run.
In fact, when you compare to those on a more traditional low-fat or Mediterranean diet, studies show faster weight loss when people go on a keto diet. However, that difference in weight loss seems to disappear over time. After two years, the dietary approaches yield similar weight loss results.
Furthermore, there has been very little study conducted on keto diets over the long-term. If you want to see the effects of diet on disease, you need to study people over decades because most health problems take years to develop.
People with type 2 diabetes who go on ketogenic diets often show improvements in glucose levels and biomarkers for blood sugar stability. But in these studies, subjects are essentially starved of food, sometimes only ingesting 650 kcal/day.
And there’s a profound difference between managing biomarkers and addressing the underlying metabolic dysfunction that exists in diabetes. Cut out all starchy foods — grains, legumes, fruits, starchy veggies — and the biomarkers that can get out of whack in response to stimulation from these foods may look fabulous. However, the diabetes still exists — it’s just not showing up in the biomarker numbers because you’re not eating the foods that would show the insulin resistance.
This is a bit like taking a bad driver off the road. They won’t get any speeding tickets, but that doesn’t make them a safer driver. It just means they’re no longer “in the game.” The same is true with carbs. If you don’t eat carbs, your blood glucose levels will drop. But the real measure of insulin sensitivity is being able to eat carbs and process them healthfully. And there’s nothing about the keto diet that helps that to happen.
In fact, to the contrary, a growing body of research shows us that a diet high in animal products, as most keto diets are, leads to higher rates of type 2 diabetes. And a keto diet might even cause type 2 diabetes, according to some recent research.
Keto for Cancer?
There’s a popular theory fueled by the controversial research of Dr. Thomas N. Seyfried and the book, Keto for Cancer, that the keto diet can help fight cancer.
Dr. Seyfried’s theory is that cancer is a metabolic disease and therefore a low-carb, low-calorie diet will starve cancer cells of their supposed fuel. He states “Nutritional ketosis induces metabolic stress on tumor tissue that is selectively vulnerable to glucose deprivation.”
While nutrition does influence cancer growth, cancer cells don’t just eat sugar. A 2016 study published in the journal Nature, showed that high-fat diets, especially from animal products and processed oils, actually fed cancer tumors and initiated their spread throughout the body.
Additionally, cancer can actually feed on ketones, causing tumors to grow and metastasize. A 2012 study concluded doctors should design ketone inhibitors to treat cancer patients, especially those with repeated cancer growth and metastasis.
Keto and Life Expectancy
There is not now, nor do we have a record of there ever having been, a human population anywhere in the world eating a keto diet and experiencing long lifespans. To the contrary, in a 2018 study published in The Lancet, researchers concluded that people who eat low-carb diets have shorter lifespans (by an average of four years). The authors write:
“Low carbohydrate dietary patterns favouring animal-derived protein and fat sources, from sources such as lamb, beef, pork, and chicken, were associated with higher mortality, whereas those that favoured plant-derived protein and fat intake, from sources such as vegetables, nuts, peanut butter, and whole-grain breads, were associated with lower mortality…”
And in another 2018 study published by the European Society of Cardiology (which we also referenced in the Disease Complications or Death section of this article), researchers found that people who ate low-carb diets had a 32% increased risk of death from all causes when compared to those eating the highest amount of carbs. The researchers also learned that low-carb eaters suffered from a 51% higher risk of dying from heart disease and a 35% higher risk of dying from cancer.
The Verdict on Ketogenic Diets
The ketogenic diet originated as, and still is, a medical diet that may be helpful for epilepsy. And it can lead to rapid weight loss in the short-term. However, starvation and illness can cause drops in weight — but that doesn’t make them healthy ways to do so.
There are currently no studies showing a ketogenic diet to be beneficial to long-term health. In fact, multiple studies show that such low-carb, high-fat diets can actually lead to shorter life expectancy and higher rates of disease.
Ditching processed foods, refined carbs, and added sugars can do wonders for your health —and the keto approach gets that right. But you can do all of that without basing your diet around animal products and high-fat foods.
After all, a whole foods, plant-based diet with lots of delicious fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains can also lead to weight loss. And in the process, it will also help your body fight and prevent cancer, heart disease, obesity, Alzheimer’s, type 2 diabetes, and virtually every other major chronic illness of our times.
Tell us in the comments below:
- Are you on the keto diet or are you considering it?
- What do you think about the ketogenic diet?
Featured Image: iStock.com/ThitareeSarmkasat
What is the Ketogenic Diet? (+Foods, Benefits, Risks)
Ketogenic Diet: Should You Join the Keto Kraze?
In this article you will learn:
- What constitutes a ketogenic diet?
- Ketogenic diet foods/sample meal plan
- Potential health benefits of the ketogenic diet
- Potential adverse health effects of the ketogenic diet
- Potential adverse effects of the ketogenic diet on performance
- Is the ketogenic diet effective for weight loss?
- Should you adopt the ketogenic diet?
- Is ketone ester supplementation effective for performance?
The ketogenic diet has been used clinically for over 80 years, primarily for the symptomatic treatment of epilepsy in children. The classic ketogenic diet was developed in the 1920s to mimic the biochemical changes associated with periods of limited food availability.
The diet is composed of approximately 75% fat, 5% carbohydrate and 20% protein, and while it provides adequate protein for growth, it provides inadequate amounts of carbohydrates for the body’s metabolic needs. Energy is primarily derived from the utilization of fats, which are converted to the ketone bodies β-hydroxybutyrate, acetoacetate, and acetone. These ketone bodies serve as an alternative energy source to glucose. In comparison to glucose, ketone bodies have a higher inherent energy.(1)
The majority of meals in a ketogenic diet consist of these foods:
- Meat: Red meat, ham, sausage, bacon, chicken and turkey.
- Fatty fish: Salmon, trout, tuna, sardines, anchovies and mackerel.
- Eggs: Ideally pastured or omega-3 whole eggs.
- Butter and cream: Grass-fed is preferable.
- Cheese: Unprocessed cheddar, goat, cream, blue or mozzarella.
- Nuts and seeds: Almonds, walnuts, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, etc.
- Healthy oils: Primarily extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil and avocado oil.
- Low-carb veggies: Most green veggies, tomatoes, onions, peppers, etc.
- Condiments: Salt, pepper and various healthy herbs and spices.
Sample Meal Plan
- Breakfast: Bacon, eggs and tomatoes
- Lunch: Chicken salad with olive oil and feta cheese on greens
- Dinner: Salmon with asparagus cooked in butter
- Snacks: Nuts, avocado, peanut butter milkshake
Several studies have shown the benefits of a ketogenic diet for patients with type two diabetes, such as weight loss, reducing blood sugar, reversing kidney disease, cardiac benefits, improvement in lipid profiles and even the potential effect on reversing diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage) and retinopathy (eye damage). (2)
Several neurological diseases (e.g. epilepsy, headache, neurotrauma, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, sleep disorders, brain cancer, autism, pain, and multiple sclerosis) are thought to be linked to energy dysregulation and as such, could be favorably influenced through dietary means.
Despite the relative lack of clinical data, there is emerging literature supporting the use of the ketogenic diet for a variety of neurological conditions. These preliminary studies are largely based on the fundamental idea that metabolically, the ketogenic diet may have protective effects on the nervous system. (3)
Health Risks and Side-Effects
There are several concerns with following a ketogenic diet for long periods:
Many of the richest sources of fiber (e.g. beans, fruits and whole grains) are restricted on the ketogenic diet. Consequently, ketogenic eaters miss out on the benefits of fiber-rich foods such as regular bowel habits and microbiome support (A healthy gut flora).
Any diet that prohibits you from eating a variety of fruits, vegetables and other foods can leave you vulnerable to vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
Some research suggests that the keto diet can lead to the loss of lean body mass.
It is believed that a ketogenic diet is inadequate in fiber, minerals, vitamins and phytochemicals, thereby increasing risk factors affecting mortality. Because ketogenic diets tend to result in a reduced intake of fiber and fruits, and an increased intake of protein from animal sources (along with cholesterol and saturated fat), the risk for mortality due to cardiovascular disease could potentially increase. Ketogenic diets may also be linked to an array of other chronic health problems. A positive cancer risk has been linked to the intake of animal protein and red and processed meat consumption, both of which are prevalent in the ketogenic diet.
Given the fact that long-term adherence to ketogenic diets are potentially unsafe and that calorie restriction has been demonstrated to be effective in weight loss regardless of nutritional composition, it would be prudent not to recommend low-carbohydrate diets for the time being.(4)
Effects on Sports Performance
According to Burke, there are several disadvantages to ketogenic diets for sports performance:
● Ketogenic diets are glycogen impairing vs glycogen sparing, i.e. They adversely affect one’s ability to use carbohydrates for energy.
● Ketogenic diets impairs both high-intensity work output (e.g. sprinting) as well as low intensity endurance performance.
● Ketogenic diets reduce exercise economy by increasing oxygen demand.
Ultimately, macronutrients (carbohydrate, fat and protein) should be periodized to facilitate metabolic flexibility so that nutrients can be used preferentially based on activity.(5)
Keto and Weight Loss
According to the ISSN position stand on diets and body composition, diets primarily focused on fat loss are driven by a sustained caloric deficit. The higher the baseline body fat level, the more aggressively the caloric deficit should be imposed, in conjunction with increased protein consumption to maintain lean body mass. Slower rates of weight loss can better preserve lean mass in leaner subjects. The majority of controlled interventions to date that matched protein and energy intake between ketogenic diets and non-ketogenic diet conditions have failed to show a fat loss advantage of the ketogenic diet. Any advantage of a ketogenic diet vs a non-ketogenic diet for fat loss is potentially in the realm of appetite regulation. (6)
Ketone Ester Supplementation
Some studies support the use of supplemental ketones to provide extra fuel and preserve carbohydrates during prolonged exercise, thereby enhancing endurance performance. Exogenous ketones (500 mg/kg) to achieve active ketosis, along with a carb-smart diet, where carbohydrates are optimally consumed for performance, can enhance performance through a combination of fuel sparing and improved energetic efficiency. The performance enhancements are seen in endurance events (e.g. a marathon), but not glycolytic-based sports (e.g. sprinting). It should also be noted that achieving ketosis via dietary means does not confer the same performance benefits and will likely be ergolytic (performance impairing). (7)
Should You Do Keto?
A ketogenic diet could be an interesting short-term alternative to help manage certain health conditions and may be an option for weight loss. However, it can be difficult to sustain and is generally heavy on red meat and sometimes includes a lot of processed and salty foods that are unhealthy (e.g. bacon). In addition, at this point we still do not know enough about the long-term health effects.
Ultimately, instead of engaging in a ketogenic diet, a balanced, unprocessed diet, rich in colorful fruits and vegetables, lean meats, fish, whole grains, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and adequate water, seems to have the best evidence for a long, healthy, vibrant life. Carbohydrate periodization is a better approach as it is congruent with one’s energy needs and supports healthy weight as well as optimum sports performance (8)
- Ketogenic diets are composed of about 75% fat, 5% carbohydrate and 20% protein.
- Ketogenic diets can be used therapeutically for seizures, weight loss, type 2 diabetes and possibly neurodegenerative disorders.
- Ketogenic diets can adversely affect metabolic flexibility and impair carbohydrate metabolism.
- Ketogenic diets can adversely affect athletic performance, especially in sports relying on glycolytic (carbohydrate predominant) pathways for energy.
- Carbohydrate periodization is a better approach as it is congruent with an individual’s energy needs and supports healthy weight as well as optimum sports performance.
- Ketone ester supplementation can be used to provide extra fuel and to preserve carbohydrates during prolonged exercise, thereby enhancing endurance performance.
- In general, one’s diet should be balanced, unprocessed, rich in colorful fruits and vegetables, lean meats, fish, whole grains, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and adequate water.
Want to learn more about the Keto diet and nutrition in general? Become a Certified Nutrition Coach.
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Egan, B., & D’Agostino, D. P. (2016). Fueling performance: ketones enter the mix. Cell metabolism, 24(3), 373-375.
Potgieter, S. (2013). Sport nutrition: A review of the latest guidelines for exercise and sport nutrition from the American College of Sport Nutrition, the International Olympic Committee and the International Society for Sports Nutrition. South African journal of clinical nutrition, 26(1), 6-16.
You may have come across the term “keto” lately in conversation, or seen it on food packaging, recipes, and all across social media. Pictures of fatty foods like bacon, cheese, and even butter in coffee. As with most topics in the spotlight, what you see may not be the whole truth.
Let’s talk about what ketosis really is and what the science is saying about the diet. But first let’s cover the basics. The ketogenic diet is unique from other styles of eating because of its very high fat, and very low carbohydrate intake.
Ketogenesis may seem like a new concept, but it is the natural process your body reverts to when it does not have enough glucose to use as energy. Your body will begin to break down fat and create ketones as an energy source. It’s kind of like your body’s built in backup generator!
Glucose is a form of sugar that is usually your body’s (especially your brain’s) main source of energy. When glucose is low, your body dips into your ketones that have been made from ketogenesis for energy. This alternative metabolic process your body switches to is known as ketosis. One job of your liver is to make ketones consistently anyway, but the amount will change based on one’s carb and protein intake. The rate of generating ketones slows when it is simply not needed. But with the keto diet, your body doesn’t get enough glucose to use it as its fuel. Instead, your body stays in a state of ketosis.
In this column, I’ll quickly touch on the possible benefits and shortfalls of the keto diet, but please note that we could expand greatly in each area of research. We are just scratching the surface!
- Epilepsy: The ketogenic diet was first used clinically to treat seizures. It has been used to successfully reduce seizures for many years, with research to back up the benefits outweighing any cons.
- Weight loss: There are some great metabolic changes initially with this diet. In an article by Antonio Paoli he notes that the health parameters associated with carrying excess weight improve, such as insulin resistance, high blood pressure, and elevated cholesterol and triglycerides. It is true that fat oxidation does increase due to the body adapting to the higher dietary fat intake. However, fat oxidation and losing body fat are two different processes. When fat oxidation is higher it does not necessarily mean that there will be a reduction in body fat. Overall calorie intake and calorie burn will be the main determinant in fat loss.
- Type 2 diabetes: Carb restriction can have a direct impact on glucose concentrations, lowering them over time. It may be a straight forward way one could get their diabetes under control. But one should consult a registered dietitian before utilizing this strategy, as a general healthful diet and carb control can produce the same results.
- Cancer: This is a growing area of research for the ketogenic diet. The Warburg effect has established that tumor cells can break down glucose much faster (specifically 200x faster) compared to typical cells. The theory is that by “starving” tumor cells of glucose, you can inhibit their growth and help prevent cancer.
Some negative side effects of a long-term ketogenic diet have been suggested in a review of the diet by Harvard’s school of public health, including increased risk of kidney stones and osteoporosis, and increased blood levels of uric acid (a risk factor for gout). And the biggest areas of concern below.
- Nutrient Deficiencies: Because whole food groups are excluded, nutrients typically found in foods like whole grains and fruit that are restricted from the diet can lead to deficiencies, especially if the diet is followed incorrectly or without proper guidance. It is vital to incorporate a wide variety of foods while eating such high amounts of fat. Each food group offers different essential nutrition. Focus on meats, seafood, vegetables, some legumes, and fruits to make sure you are getting fiber, B vitamins, and minerals such as iron, magnesium, and zinc. It would be best to consult with a registered dietitian to alleviate the possibility of any deficiencies.
- Keto Flu: During the diet transition you may experience uncomfortable side effects from significantly cutting carbs, sometimes called the “Keto Flu”. Hunger, headaches, nausea, fatigue, irritability, constipation and brain “fog” may last days. Sleep and hydration will help, but it may not be a pleasant transition into the diet.
- Adherence: Point blank, following a very high-fat diet may be challenging to maintain for most. Keeping yourself satisfied with a limited variety of food and food groups and not being allowed to have some of the more pleasurable foods like fruit, rice dishes, ice cream, or cream based soups may be challenging to maintain. This is very individual, but adhering to healthy diet is important. To truly gain long-term health benefits, one must have healthy habits in place year round, not 30 days at a time.
- Gut Health: Using the restroom may be difficult since removing whole grain and fruit will greatly lower ones fiber intake. Not great for gut health.
To sum things up
- In regards to fat loss, someone may try something extreme temporarily, and if it works they can reap those physical benefits correlated with losing body fat. Once the diet is complete there may be a more complex transition or normal eating again. Or, if it is used for the long term, there have not been studies yet to see how this impacts our health.
- What we do know is that an overall nourishing, vitamin packed diet (or way of eating) should include high quality foods, variety, and the ability to adhere to the diet whether it is for fat loss, muscle gain, or general maintenance.
- The ketogenic diet is missing some vital food groups, and in turn, vital nutrients.
- It is best to consult with a dietitian and physician to ensure you are monitoring not just the scale, or how you feel, but what is going on in your body internally with the proper guidance.
- As with all nutrition recommendations, they are individual,in relation to a person’s health history, preferences, goals, activity level, as well as special health needs. It is the role of the registered dietitian nutritionist to guide clients toward a safe, health-optimizing lifestyle through personalized nutrition. And to stay up to date with the newest and most thorough research. What may work for one, may not for another. And what we know now, may also change in the future.
Liz Satterthwaite, RDN, LDN, is a ProMedica dietitian.
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Wheless JW. History of the ketogenic diet. Epilepsia. 2008;49(Suppl 8):3-5. doi:10.1111/j.1528-1167.2008.01821.x.
The Pros and Cons of The Ketogenic Diet
‘Keto’ has been making headlines as THE go-to diet, but is all the hype justified?
Before you dive in head-first, consider these pros and cons of the ketogenic diet.
WHAT IS A KETOGENIC DIET?
The keto diet is simply high-fat and low-carb. The diet lowers blood sugar levels, essentially shifting your metabolism from carbs to fat.
The theory behind keto and the reason many people use it for fat loss is that by restricting carbohydrates, your body will eventually reach a state of ketosis – a metabolic state whereby it burns fat for energy. Ketosis can only occur when carbohydrates are kept at extremely low levels (usually below 30/40g per day).
PROS OF THE KETOGENIC DIET
Keto Can Help You Lose Body Fat
Research, anecdote, and proponents of the diet have boasted that going keto can help you lose body fat. When you strip away the body’s main source of energy (carbohydrates), it’s forced to adapt by using body fat for fuel.
Gifu University of Japan found that a ketogenic diet does show a marked impact on the amount of body fat that you can burn off and metabolize for energy.
In addition, eating higher-fat foods throughout the day can help minimize cravings and increase feelings of satiety, ultimately helping you stay on track and within your recommended daily calorie count.
Keto Benefits a Sedentary Lifestyle
Sedentary lifestyles are all too common – a factor often dictated by desk jobs and long work hours. Even if you work out for 30 minutes a day, if you aren’t moving much the rest of the time, there is ample reason to keep your carbs low since you don’t need the muscle glycogen.
Additionally, you can make the carbs you do have work more efficiently for you by timing your intake around your pre-workout and post-workout schedule.
Keto Resets Insulin Sensitivity
Insulin sensitivity occurs when the body has a tough time metabolizing glucose and making use of the sugars from carbohydrates. It also reduces the storage of glucose within muscle cells, negatively affecting training, performance, and results.
A period of low-carb intake via the ketogenic diet may help boost your sensitivity to insulin, ensuring that you can safely reintroduce carbohydrates at a later stage at no cost to physique or performance.
CONS OF THE KETOGENIC DIET
Your Brain Needs Sugar
Unfortunately, there are some risk factors and side effects of the keto diet. The ability to focus is essential not only for hitting the gym but also for work and your personal life.
If you’ve ever tried a very low-carb diet, you may have experienced the “keto flu.” Flu-like symptoms like sluggishness may occur, especially in the first few weeks.
The reason for this is pretty simple: your brain derives energy from blood glucose – which in its most simple sense is a sugar. Carbohydrates are needed for glucose to enter the bloodstream. In the absence of this sugar, your cognitive function could take a hit.
Carbs Fuel Performance
If you are an athlete or someone who leads a very active lifestyle in general, you might want to avoid ‘going keto.’
A 1996 study conducted by Copenhagen University found that a low-carb, high-fat diet resulted in poorer training adaptations when compared to a high-carb approach. The researchers found that both power output and performance in endurance competition were negatively impacted by the ketogenic diet.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s published guidelines have since urged athletes to avoid low-carb diets, so you should heed this advice if you want to train and perform at elite levels.
Medical Use Only
The ketogenic diet is typically recommended in a medical setting, in order to improve the health of those who suffer from conditions such as type 1 and type 2 diabetes, epilepsy, Parkinson’s, and metabolic syndrome.
In that sense, keto can work. For these people, lowering blood sugars through the removal of carbohydrates, particularly processed ones, may prove necessary in preventing serious health problems.
However, you could argue that this has been misinterpreted for use in the fitness world, where carbs help to fuel your workouts with much-needed muscle glycogen.
Calories Count Most
Weight loss is generally governed by calories in versus calories out. If you are burning off more calories than you consume via food and drink, then you will lose weight – regardless of the ratio of macronutrients (proteins, carbs, and fats) that you adopt.
It could feasibly be claimed that, when it comes to weight loss, the ketogenic diet places too much emphasis on fat, and not enough on the overall calorie count.
Research does reinforce the pros of the ketogenic diet – particularly in its ability to target body fat stores for fuel. However, whether this approach is intended to last long-term is up for debate.
The loss of water weight is a short-term solution, for one, and you run the risk of tainting your training with prolonged periods of restricted carbs. Glucose provides fuel for the brain, and muscle glycogen for your time at the gym.
If you are serious about building muscle mass or achieving peak sports performance then perhaps going keto isn’t for you.
The best advice is: consult your physician to determine whether this diet is good for your personal goals, body type, and lifestyle.
For more insights into all things fitness and nutrition, check out our blog! And give your workout a boost with one of our pre-workout supplements.
The under-reported benefits (and drawbacks) of the Keto diet
Since its inception back in 1921, the Keto diet has faced scrutiny in regards to its purported health claims. Initially contrived as a regimen meant to help mitigate seizures in young children suffering from epilepsy, some physicians have since warned otherwise healthy adults against considering the fad diet as a speedy weight loss method.
“More often than not, it’s not sustainable. Oftentimes weight gain may come back, and you’ll gain more than what you lost,” Rachel Kleinman, RDN, LDN, a clinical dietitian at Ingalls explained to UChicago Medicine.
The sustainability factor has been assailing the principles of flash in the pan diets for decades. The new-age slight against them is energized by the breakneck rise of diets like the Mediterranean diet and intermittent fasting. These diets are noted and celebrated for their pluralistic health benefits. If adhered to correctly, weight loss is accomplished by a body with all of its gears polished as opposed to one starved into submission. Instead of cutting out major food groups, your intake of them is adjusted according to very specific health objectives.
Though not as frequently publicized, the Ketogenic diet operates in a similar space. Not unlike intermittent fasting, the keto diet works by shepherding your body into a desired metabolic process. When the body is deprived of the sufficient amount of glucose needed to maintain energy levels, it resorts to burning stored fats instead. This sugar dearth enacts a domino effect of sorts: High-blood sugar reduction leads to fewer insulin complications, which in turn prevents many forms of cancer. This process also raises the amount of High-density lipoprotein or good cholesterol in the body, which improves heart health and lowers one’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease. More broadly, occasional ketosis has been studied to yield neuro-protective advantages in addition to improving cognition in young developing children.
Uncovering the benefits and drawbacks associated with any diet will never be a closed case. As we continue to better understand the cognitive and somatic legislation that governs human biology, experts will continue to retcon all the things we thought we knew.
For instance, a new study conducted by researchers out of Yale University using mice models found that carbohydrate restriction leads to an increase in mucus production in the lungs. The more mucus the more illnesses trapped and nullified before they can infect their host.
“This was a totally unexpected finding. This study shows that the way the body burns fat to produce ketone bodies from the food we eat can fuel the immune system to fight flu infection.” commented the researchers to Medical Daily.
Something to consider as we gear up to face the infection’s busiest season. Speaking of seasons, of all the celebrated fad diets, the keto diet seems to be the one best served by a provisional observance. Prolonged adherence has been documented to lead to muscle degeneration, kidney stone formation, and abnormally high acid levels in the blood, saying nothing of the onslaught of complications that headline the diet’s adjustment period. Medical News Today reports,
“Because you don’t want your body to stay in ketosis for too long, you’ll want to discuss other options for dietary changes for an extended period of time. The ketogenic diet encourages the elimination of refined and processed carbohydrates. However, not all carbohydrates are created equal. Many health benefits come from a diet that includes a variety of nutrient-dense, fibrous carbs, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats.”