The Ketogenic Diet: Pros/Cons
The ketogenic diet has become a popular trend for people wanting to lose weight quickly. There is conflicting research that supports and discredits a ketogenic diet due to the lack of research on the long-term outcomes of this diet for humans.
What is ketosis?
Ketosis is a metabolic state that the body enters when carbohydrate intake is severely limited (<30g/day) or if you are in a state of starvation. When in ketosis, the body will break down fat to produce ketone bodies which serve as an energy source for the brain while food/carbohydrate intake is low. Does that mean you don't burn fat unless you're on this type of diet? No. You still utilize fat as a main fuel source when at rest or doing light activity (like walking), but ketone bodies won't be produced as an energy source unless carbohydrate is restricted.
What's the diet like?
The premise of this meal plan is that your calories come primarily from fats (about 70%) in about a 4:1 ratio to carbohydrates and protein. Meaning, 3-4 grams of fat for every 1 gram of carbohydrate and protein. The rest of your calories come from carbohydrates (10%-15%) and proteins (10%-15%).
The ketogenic diet is well known for helping individuals, especially children, who are diagnosed with epilepsy. Many of these children do not have the capability of transporting glucose across their blood brain barrier. The ketogenic diet allows their body to have a different source of energy available. Some research also supports the ketogenic diet in playing a role in treating disorders of cellular proliferation, such as cancer. There has also been researched benefits for those with Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.
What about sustainability?
The ketogenic diet can be extremely satisfying because of the high fat content. It tastes really good to eat more fat! However, major food groups are eliminated including grains, fruits, beans, legumes, milk, and yogurt. Sustainability of this type of diet in a healthful manner to obtain all essential micronutrients daily should be discussed with your dietitian and health care provider. Whether this is a long term solution will be based on the individual. Ask yourself the question, "can I go without (above food) forever?". If the answer is no, this likely isn't the diet for you.
There is a research deficit about the long-term effects that this diet may have on humans. Long term renal function, bone metabolism, and meeting essential nutrient needs are all topics that require more research.
Foods You CAN Eat
• Nut butters
• Nonstarchy veggies
• Dark chocolate (no added sugar)
1 slice bacon
Greens of choice
2 oz cheese
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Seek help from a professional if you're interested in pursuing this diet. Learn about the benefits, side effects, questions we don't yet know, and if it might fit your lifestyle. It's always best to discuss this with your doctor before making changes.
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