What is it?
The ketogenic diet (aka “keto diet”) or low carb high fat diet (LCHF) is an eating plan designed to use fat instead of carbohydrates as an energy source. Fat for energy may be sourced from food or from stored fat in your own body.
First, your body needs to be able to identify the fat-burning pathway, so you must confine the amount of carbohydrates that you eat or drink per day to approximately 25 g of net carbs or 5% of your caloric intake. The rest of the intake is from about 20% protein and 75% of fat or healthy oils. These amounts can differ.
- Some people do well with 50 grams of carbs per day.
- Other patients, especially those who have hormonal imbalances such as hypothyroidism, may do better within a range of 20 to 90 grams per day.
- To most, the recommended amount of carbs should be between 20 to 50 grams.
It is important to note that although the recommended fat intake is higher than protein or carbs, it still adds up calories, thus, the volume of fat or healthy oils is not unlimited, and it should be accounted for. On the other hand, the type of fats or oils that you use will make a difference on the impact of the keto diet in your body, either for weight loss or to reduce chronic inflammation. To learn more about the keto diet, visit ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
How does it work?
When you avoid sugar, grains, flours, and starches, your blood sugar stabilizes, requiring less insulin. Once glucose in blood and insulin (the fat-storing hormone) drop, your body will start using stored fats for energy.
Another advantage of eliminating carbs from your diet is that you will stop displacing nutritious foods and eat better protein like vegetables and fat. These proteins will help you feel more satisfied, less hungry, and more energized.
Is this another fad?
The name might be new, but the diet composition is not. Back in the early 1800s, Dr. Banting used it to lose weight, and he published his findings in the “Letter of Corpulence Addressed to the Public,” which may be the first modern diet book. In the early 1900s, before insulin was invented, Dr. William Osler used this macronutrient composition to treat patients with diabetes. He went as far as to say that fatty foods were crucial to reducing obesity. In the 1920s, Johns Hopkins Medical Center designed the ketogenic diet, as we know it today, to reduce the number of seizures for patients with epilepsy.
The obesity pandemic coincides with dietary fats being demonized, the inclusion of processed foods into the Standard American Diet (SAD), and the use of medication to manage diseases as a replacement of healthy foods and lifestyle.
How is the Keto diet different from the Atkins diet?
Atkins promotes processed foods like bacon and more protein than the keto diet, while the keto diet promotes more high quality fats and proteins. However, some new trends have emerged, such as the “lazy keto diet” and the “dirty and lazy keto diet.” All I can say about this is that the chemicals in those diets become toxins, and a high toxic load is by no means a way of getting back to health. The only inconvenience of convenience is disease.
Is the keto diet dangerous for people who have diabetes?
Ketosis from the ketogenic diet is the result of the body being forced to use fat for energy instead of using glucose (the carbs that have been broken down into blood sugar or glucose). In the absence of glucose, the body starts burning fat and produces ketones. Once ketone levels rise to a certain point, your body enters a state of nutritional ketosis, helping control the release of hormones like insulin and helping reverse insulin resistance. This state should not be confused with ketoacidosis, which is a serious diabetes complication.
People who have diabetes type II should contact their Primary Care Physician prior to starting a ketogenic diet, due to the fact that insulin dosages or other medications may need to be adjusted. Research has shown that following the ketogenic diet is beneficial to people with diabetes type II, as they can reduce key markers such as BMI, body weight, blood level glucose, triglycerides, insulin levels, and hemoglobin A1C.
Patients with diabetes type I (5%-10% of all diabetics) may need 70 – 90 g of carbohydrate intake to prevent hypoglycemia and should be monitored closely.
The ketogenic diet is more effective when compared to low-calorie diets and can actually help reverse metabolic conditions, including diabetes and cardiometabolic illnesses, minimize their symptoms, and reduce medication use.
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