The ketogenic diet is used in some hard-to-treat conditions like epilepsy. The diet is low on carbs and has moved on into mainstream use.
What is a ketogenic diet?
A low carbohydrate diets produces ketons in the liver which can be used as energy. The ketogenic diet cuts carbohydrates as food source. It also cuts high-fat food sources. The reasoning behind this is that carbohydrates are transformed into glucose and insulin.
Glucose is the main source of energy in the body as it is readily available. Every time this source is available it will be chosen over other sources of energy by your body. Since fats are not needed to transform into energy, often times they get stored by the body. The process of lowering the carbs intake will lead your body into a state of ketosis. This is basically a survival mode where the body uses stored fats in the liver to produce ketons which compensate for the lack of carbohydrate energy sources. The goal of a ketogenic diet is to force your body to get to this stage.
Types of ketogenic diet
This being said, there are some type of ketogenic diet which combine various quantities of carbs.
– The Standard Ketogenic diet – 70%fat, 20% protein, 5% carbs
– Cyclical ketogenic diet – a combination of ketogenic and high carbs days, usually 5 + 2
– Targeted ketogenic diet – carbs are allowed after physical activity
– High protein ketogenic diet – 60% fat, 35% protein and 5% carbs
Popular ketogenic diet myths
In short, living without excessive carbohydrates leads to a healthier life. The key word here is “excessive”. Food as we now know it has changed drastically over the past 20-30 years. Portions have gotten bigger, foods are more processed, meat is mass produced etc. A low carb diet has become necessary for some people and even mandatory in some extreme medical conditions. However, if you decide to go on a low carb diet for a period, here are some top myths to consider:
Low carb diets are healthy
A low carb diet can be healthy, but only under certain circumstances. For some people it might be life-changing while for others it might not do much. In fact, for some people, low carb diets can be detrimental. People with an active life need the energy to fuel muscles and the metabolism. Sports players, people who go to the gym and construction workers need the carbs which is then transformed into glucose. If they wouldn`t have any carbs they would lose weight, muscle mass and overall strength.
Carbs can get you fat
First of all, not all carbs are made the same. Sugar is bad and some carbs can also be detrimental. But there are many carbs which are healthy. Also, going back to the first myth, carbs themselves cannot be just bad. It will largely depend on your lifestyle on how carbs affect your body. If you are a sedentary person you are more likely to develop fat than people who take at least 30 minutes of exercise. So for example if you eat 2.500 calories per day but burn the calories it will be impossible to put on any fat.
A ketogenic diet is exactly a low-carb diet
A ketogenic diet usually limits daily carbs intake to 50g. A low carb diet can be as high as 200g per day which opens up many options like fruits or a couple of potatoes. Ketosis is sought by many people looking to lose weight fast, but this is not optimum for everybody as it can put a lot of stress on the body.
It is not possible to gain any weight without carbs
One of the biggest myths around nutrition is that simply by cutting out carbs from your diet you will be safe and thin forever. No weight could ever come back to your body. This is false. You can cut out all the carbs but still eat impressive amount of food. At the end of the day is the balance between caloric intake and burnt calories which makes the difference. If you are in a caloric surplus for a long period of time, you will gain weight. A caloric surplus can be anything from 100 extra calories to 1.000 extra calories. The same principle applies when losing weight. If you are in a caloric deficit for a long period of time, be it 200 calories less than what you need to sustain your body, you will lose weight.
Drinking butter is a good for health
There are some studies which show that saturated fats are harmless. Again, going back to the first myth, it`s really not about the fat itself but rather about the quantity. Drinking gallons of coconut oil per day will eventually impact your health. Drinking whole cups of butter is not good for your health. Fats, in moderation can be good for the body. Some hormones, like testosterone use fat as a booster. It can be said that men can benefit from small quantities of fat. Of course this doesn`t apply to all men, but, generally speaking, moderation and timing play an important role in nutrition.
Fiber is overrated
One of the myths of low carb and ketogenic diets is that fibers are overrated or in fact useless. They can`t provide any real nutrition and can be excluded from daily meals. This idea was behind the whole juicing industry. From an evolutionary perspective, fibers played an important role. Humans haven`t been really drinking orange juice for thousands of years. It`s just a recent mechanism. Fibers have an important role in the digestive system.
They come to aid the digestion process. They are also slower to digest which means your body can use nutrients even when you sleep and haven`t eaten for hours. Furthermore, some fibers contain essential vitamins and mineral like Calcium, Vitamin E, B Vitamins etc. Some of the most concentrated nutrients from fruits are in the skin and seeds of the fruit which are high in fiber. There should be more attention paid to fiber and people on diets should really consider who is advising them against fibers and what gain there is from that advice.
In the end if you decide to go on a ketogenic diet you should consider talking to a doctor and if you get the approval you should follow it, at least for a few days, to experiment for yourself. After a few diets you will be able to draw a conclusion on what works and what doesn`t work for you. Regardless of the advice available on ketogenic diets, you should know that extremes are not always the best option. Only eating carbs or only eating fat and protein cannot be the base for a balanced nutrition.
The diet is fine if you do it in moderation, from time to time, it will almost be like a fasting period. If it tends to get permanent, that`s when the lack of some nutrients or the excess of others, like fat, can lead to more serious health problems. And if your sole goal is to lose weight, there might be other options available which can be less stressful on the body.