Is a ketogenic diet a miracle cure for obesity? Diabetes? Epilepsy?
Some people say so. And it certainly can help some people with some health concerns.
The ketogenic diet seems to be trending lately, but in fact, it was first documented almost 100 years ago.
How do you know if it’s best for you? As a healthy lifestyle professional, let me help you better understand what it’s all about and some of the things to consider before diving into the ketogenic diet.
What is the ketogenic diet?
Unlike popular diets that focus on the amount of protein or carbs you eat, the ketogenic diet focuses on fat. It’s a restrictive diet that is a very-low-carbohydrate and high-fat diet.
Yes, high-fat diet!
While fat had been unfairly treated as the cause of obesity and contributor to heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, new research in both people and animals suggests this is not the case. In fact, the high-fat ketogenic diet has been shown to help some people achieve weight loss pretty quickly (but keep reading before you dive into it). This new knowledge is partly because the health effects of sugars weren’t a big part of the research until recently. Evidence is growing to suggest that intake of sugar-sweetened foods and drinks are more closely associated with increased risks of obesity and diabetes.
Note that starting a ketogenic diet can result in a loss of up to 10 lbs in two weeks with some of that weight loss due to water loss. Interestingly, the ketogenic diet seems to help dieters keep their lean body muscle, unlike other weight loss diets.
In fact, the idea behind using your diet to affect your metabolism all started in the 1920s. This is when the ketogenic diet was first used as a therapeutic diet to help treat pediatric epilepsy. This continued for about a decade until antiepileptic agents were introduced. The popularity of the ketogenic diet has recently resurfaced, this time as a weight-loss and blood-sugar control diet.
How Ketosis Works
The idea behind the ketogenic diet is to switch your body’s metabolism to use a different mode of fuel. Normally your body uses glucose (a carbohydrate) as its main fuel. Carbohydrates are sugars and starches found in many nutritious foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. Glucose is the primary source of energy for your tissues and organs like your brain and muscles. But, because your brain is so important to your survival and humans evolved to live through periods of little access to food, you have a “backup” system to make sure your brain can still have the energy to help you survive.