You might have run across the ketogenic diet, if you’ve been contemplating various weight-loss plans. This plan, which is often utilized to help improve seizure control, is currently picking up steam as a successful treatment for weight reduction. But is it safe and effective? We turned to research evidence to find out more.
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What is the Ketogenic Diet?
The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, moderate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet that forces the body into a state of ketosis, where fat is burned for fuel rather than carbohydrate. (This is not to be confused with ketoacidosis, a dangerous condition typically caused by a lack of insulin in your system.) According to Dominic Dâ€™Agostino, a researcher at the University of South Florida who specializes in ketogenic diets, “The ‘classic ketogenic diet’ used initially for the management of drug-resistance seizures is a 4:1 ratio of fats into protein and carbohydrates.” That equates to approximately 80 to 90 percent fat, 15 percent protein and 5 percent carbs. “For weight loss”, he states, “this diet is typically modified ‘to allow a more liberal consumption of protein’ (20–30 percent) with the same carbohydrate restriction.”
Is the Keto Diet Right for Everyone?
Advocates of the ketogenic diet are quick to point out a number of the benefits that this diet may have for those looking to lose weight. “Rapid weight reduction and a drop in hunger are the most common and obvious benefits,” says Kristen Mancinelli, MS, RD, author of “The Ketogenic Diet: A Scientifically Proven Approach to Fast, Healthy Weight Loss.” Dâ€™Agostino references promising studies which have been demonstrated to “lower blood glucose levels, enhance sensitivity to insulin, decrease inflammation and reduce triglyceride levels while increasing HDL cholesterol.”
Though Toronto-based registered dietitian Christy Brissette agrees this diet may promote rapid weight reduction, but she also cautions on the dangers of losing weight too fast. “Research indicates that people often regain weight they have lost on low-carb diets since they are difficult to maintain long-term,” she says. “A ketogenic diet cuts or seriously limits food choices such as fruits and whole grains, leading to a restricted meal program which may can be hard to abide by.”
It’s also worth mentioning that low-carb diets deplete carbohydrate stores in the liver and muscles. You can expect the majority of weight lost during the first week of a diet to be water weight, since these carbohydrate stores are bound closely to water.
Proponents of ketogenic diets agree that this form of weight loss is not suitable for each person. Dâ€™Agostino and fellow USF researcher Andrew Koutnik stress that “people with liver cancer or even high liver enzymes, pancreatitis, fat malabsorption issues, lipid metabolism disorders, gall bladder removal or obstruction, or those taking a drug such as a steroid which may elevate blood sugar levels and inhibit the capability to achieve ketosis, should refrain from following a ketogenic diet.”
Dâ€™Agostino and Koutnik, nevertheless, say this dietary plan may be good for those with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. They point to research at Duke University that discovered individuals with Type 2 diabetes that followed a ketogenic diet reduced their A1C level, a long-term indicator of blood sugar management, by 16 percent along with a 6.6 percent reduction in overall body weight. It is recommended that you discuss this plan with your health care team before proceeding, for anyone with diabetes considering that a diet.
Ketogenic Diet: Eating Advice
Prior to making any major, long-term changes to your diet, it is best to check in with a physician or registered dietitian. Should you decide you’d like to attempt a ketogenic lifestyle for weight loss, here are several tips to get you started:
Adjust your Macros
To achieve nutrient ketosis, adjust your macronutrient goals to accomplish a daily consumption of 70 to 75 percent fat, 15 to 20 percent protein and 5 to 10 percent calories from carbohydrates.
Anticipate a Temporary Drop in Energy
Transitioning to a ketogenic lifestyle could be a bit challenging at first. “The first couple of days to few weeks of a ketogenic diet can be challenging to make it through,” states Mancinelli. “You will experience very low energy, crankiness and foggy thinking.” This sense of lethargy may last from a few days to a couple months after it passes individuals report an improvement in mood and energy, in addition to thinking that is clearer.
Moderate your Protein Intake
Remember that a ketogenic diet isn’t a high-protein diet. Since extra protein can be converted by the body into carbohydrates consuming too much protein may change you out of a state of ketosis.
Eat a Variety of Fats
Make certain your intake of fat is balanced between plant-based sources and animal fats such as olive oil, seeds, nuts and coconut, together with fatty fish. This will not only help to enhance health, but will add variety to a meal plan as well.
Know it’s Not a Quick Fix
Just like with any weight-loss plan, the objective isn’t just to lose weight but also to keep it away. Ask yourself if you are able to make this type of long-term lifestyle change instead of just a quick fix that could lead to a cycle of dieting, before you transition to a ketogenic way of eating.
When followed properly, ketogenic diets have been demonstrated to be effective and safe for weight loss and may provide other health benefits including improved blood glucose control, a decrease in inflammation and enhanced triglyceride and HDL counts. In order to achieve ketosis, one stick to a particular eating plan to keep weight loss and must think about a lifestyle change that is long-term. As always, consult with your physician or a registered dietitian before making any major dietary changes.
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By Dr. Alex Jimenez
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