She adds that the research supports the safety and effectiveness of following a keto diet even in older adults with obesity as it seems to help improve body composition and improve metabolic health.6 “We saw significant reduction in body fat while lean mass was preserved and significant improvements in insulin sensitivity and the lipid profile in response to a ketogenic diet when compared to a standard ‘balanced’ diet,” Dr. Goss explains.
Traditionally, in the sports nutrition field, we talk about the importance of timing carbohydrate and fluid intake on improving sports performance. For some time now, research has been looking at the role of very low carbohydrate diets on sports performance. Trailblazers in keto and sports performance research like Dr. Stephen Phinney have been conducting studies in this area since the 80s. In one of his studies, the glycogen stores of cyclists on a keto diet were not completely depleted and lipid oxidation was increased. Researchers concluded that the body was able to adapt to the lack of carbohydrates and preserve what was needed to use the fat as fuel. However, based on the VO2 max breath test, since the body was attempting to preserve the carbohydrate during the exercise, it appears that the intensity of the exercise was limited. In a more recent study, off-road cyclists following a keto diet experienced small improvements, but still not significant enough to make strong conclusions.
So where did the ketogenic diet come from? Interestingly enough, this fad diet didn’t spark from a celebrity endorsement or some guy missing a medical license. There’s evidence of the keto diet being used back in the early 1920s to treat severe childhood epilepsy and it’s still being used today for that purpose. Research suggests that the production of ketones may influence neurotransmitter activity in neurons allowing for a reduction in seizure attacks. A recent Cochrane Review demonstrated a 30-40% reduction in seizures compared with non-keto diet controls. One thing to keep in mind, however (which is a theme when discussing the keto diet) is that it’s generally difficult to adhere to and difficult to tolerate for a lot of people. In other words, people go on it and then come off it pretty damn quick.
The keto diet works by eliminating carbohydrates from the your daily intake and keeping the body’s carbohydrate stores almost empty, therefore preventing too much insulin from being released following food consumption and creating normal blood sugar levels. This can help reverse “insulin resistance,” which is the underlying problem contributing to diabetes symptoms. In studies, low-carb diets have shown benefits for improving blood pressure, postprandial glycemia and insulin secretion. (7)
Early humans probably were on an LCHF diet. But when did humans become the “intelligent” species that they are? Can that be related to invention of agriculture? When humans began settling down on river banks to grow their crop, be it rice or wheat or maize, may be the rich alluvium, elevated mineral contents and higher glucose levels associated with grains might have given them increased brain activity leading to their cultural and intellectual development. My only worry is, this”new found” ketogenic diet shouldn’t push us back to stone age, though on a positive note, that might save our planet from anthropogenic destruction!
One way to find out if the keto diet is not be ideal for your cardiovascular health is by checking if your total-to-HDL cholesterol ratio is above 4 and/or your LDL-P remains high or increases after starting the keto diet. If this is the case for you, then you may fare better with a low to moderate fat diet with plenty of whole foods, fiber, monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats (especially omega 3s), and limited saturated fats.
One reason it's hard to determine the exact health effects of diets is that it's often unclear whether any observed effects come from the diet or from a combination of other factors, like stress, environment or genetics. Still, that doesn't mean all the bold claims about the keto diet are wrong, but rather that you should approach them with a healthy degree of skepticism.
After the depletion phase, your body will enter a survival mode where it starts to signal the liver to produce ketones from available dietary fat sources and body fat stores. These ketones will replace glycogen as the body’s fuel source in the absence of glycogen. The body will go back to burning glycogen for energy when you start eating carbs again.
In general, men tend to do better on a long term ketogenic diet than women do. From my own research and experimentation, women can follow a keto diet, but with some adaptions. Most women will do well with a cyclical ketogenic diet when they stay on ketogenic diet most of the time and eat starchy carbohydrates occasionally to spike calories and carbs.
The understanding of “What is a Keto Diet” has become blurred thanks to the proliferation of Keto Diet “experts”. Many of these “experts” recommend several variants of Keto Diet and lifestyles which they claim can be modified to any walk of life. However, in most instances what they are actually recommending are Low-Carb lifestyle programs. These are neither weight loss programs, nor Ketogenic. With that said, there’s nothing wrong with adopting a Low-Carb lifestyle, but if your goal is weight loss, then changing your eating lifestyle should come after you’ve achieved your weight loss goals.
I recently had one of my previous cooks post that she was going to do this diet and should she start with 20 grams or 30 grams. She has been a cook in the healthcare business for about 8 years so she understands the different diets but not the physiology behind them (yet. I am trying to talk her into taking the CDM course). I told her to consult the RD at her facility before she embarks on such a trend. She won’t because all her friends posted their weight loss stories.
The problem comes when people remain ketotic for extended periods. We know with confidence that long-term ketosis poses substantial risk for health complications because thousands of children have followed ketogenic diets over the years as a means of suppressing intractable grand mal seizures unresponsive to drugs, seizures that can lead to irreversible brain damage if not stopped. A ketogenic diet reduces seizures by approximately 55%. Because seizures are a chronic problem, these kids maintain ketosis for months to years.
What are the side effects of the ketogenic diet? It’s not uncommon for people beginning the keto diet to experience “keto flu” symptoms, which can include: irritability, cravings, menstruation issues in women, constipation, fatigue, headaches and poor exercise performance. These side effects are due to the body going through major metabolic shifts and essentially withdrawing from carbs and sugar.
The ketogenic (or keto) diet was initially designed to treat severe epilepsy in infants and children. As an intervention diet, it was intended to be administered for short periods of time under the supervision of a medical team. Now popular for it’s rapid weight-loss side effects, the diet has moved to the mainstream public as an alternative low-carb diet.
I actually clicked on the story just to see if they included anything about it’s use in managing chronic migraine. I have chronic migraine, basically intractable. Nothing has helped. I’ve tried medications, meditations, and everything in between including a bunch of dietary changes. Keto is my next consideration. I’m happy to hear it helped you! Thanks for sharing
In part, keto diet weight loss is a real thing because high-fat, low-carb diets can both help diminish hunger and boost weight loss through their hormonal effects. As described above, when we eat very little foods that supply us with carbohydrates, we release less insulin. With lower insulin levels, the body doesn’t store extra energy in the form of fat for later use, and instead is able to reach into existing fat stores for energy.
In some ways, it’s similar to the Atkins diet, which similarly boosts the body’s fat-burning abilities through eating only low-carb foods, along with getting rid of foods high in carbs and sugar. Removing glucose from carbohydrate foods will cause the body to burn fat for energy instead. The major differences between the classic keto and the Atkins diet is the former emphasizes healthier keto fats, less overall protein and no processed meat (such as bacon) while having more research to back up its efficacy.
Ketogenic diets were first proposed as a way to control epileptic seizures in children. Before keto diets, epileptics often fasted to reduce seizures, so the keto diet offered a less restrictive alternative. Though effective, the diet was mostly supplanted by medications – except in a segment of the population suffering from epilepsy that cannot control it with medicine, and for them, the ketogenic diet has had great success. Along with the benefits it offers to epileptics, especially children, the keto diet is also being studied as a possible salve for many neurological conditions and diabetes, too.
So rather than giving one-size-fits-all dietary advice or weaponizing the word “balanced” it might be better if the medical community suggested that there are Individual differences that need to be considered. This might also help those lay folk who have had success with one dietary lifestyle or another also realize that what’s valid for them may not be good advice for others.
From baseline to week 16, the mean body weight decreased significantly from 131.4 ± 18.3 kg to 122.7 ± 18.9 kg, BMI decreased from 42.2 ± 5.8 kg/m2 to 39.4 ± 6.0 kg/m2, and waist circumference from 130.0 ± 10.5 cm to 123.3 ± 11.3 cm (Table (Table3).3). The percent change in body weight was -6.6%. The mean percent body fat decreased from 40.4 ± 5.8% to 37.0 ± 6.0%. Systolic and diastolic blood pressures did not change significantly over the 16 weeks. The mean heart rate decreased from 81.2 ± 12.9 beats per minute to 74.6 ± 14.0 beats per minute (p = 0.01).
Brain fog and a lack of focus can be caused by having too much glutamate and very little GABA. This will happen if your brain has to use glutamate and glutamic acid for fuel, which leaves little left over to be processed into GABA. By giving the brain another form of energy when you break down ketones, you’re able to balance out the neurotransmitter production.
It’s not totally clear whether weight loss achieved on the keto diet can be maintained by most adults once the diet ends, both because the diet can be hard to follow and due to the body adapting metabolically. Long-term studies conducted on animals show that weight loss tends to level off after about six months on the diet, and sometimes may start to creep back up.
A related clinical diet for drug-resistant epilepsy is called the medium-chain triglyceride ketogenic diet, in which MCT oil is extensively used because it’s more ketogenic than long-chain triglycerides. (13) Another dietary therapy for epilepsy called Low Glycemic Index Treatment (LGIT) was developed in 2002 as an alternative to the keto diet. LGIT monitors the total amount of carbohydrates consumed daily, and focuses on carbohydrates that have a low glycemic index.) (14)
A ketogenic diet could be an interesting alternative to treat certain conditions, and may accelerate weight loss. But it is hard to follow and it can be heavy on red meat and other fatty, processed, and salty foods that are notoriously unhealthy. We also do not know much about its long-term effects, probably because it’s so hard to stick with that people can’t eat this way for a long time. It is also important to remember that “yo-yo diets” that lead to rapid weight loss fluctuation are associated with increased mortality. Instead of engaging in the next popular diet that would last only a few weeks to months (for most people that includes a ketogenic diet), try to embrace change that is sustainable over the long term. A balanced, unprocessed diet, rich in very colorful fruits and vegetables, lean meats, fish, whole grains, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and lots of water seems to have the best evidence for a long, healthier, vibrant life.
Beyond the short-term effects of the keto flu, the diet can also negatively impact your digestion and gut in the long run. One 10-year study conducted on using keto to manage pediatric epilepsy found the following GI side effects over time: constipation, high triglyceride levels, high cholesterol, diarrhea, lethargy, iron deficiency, vomiting, and kidney stones.
Hello, I’m Abbey! I'm a Registered Dietitian (RD), an avid food and recipe writer, a TV nutrition expert and spokesperson, a YouTube host and the founder of Abbey’s Kitchen Inc. Abbey's Kitchen is a multi- faceted food and nutrition media brand developed with the goal of celebrating the pleasurable eating experience. For more information about me, check out my bio here.
Although the ketogenic diet has been a source of controversy and debate, one cannot dispute its astounding health benefits. Initially, it was created by specialists at John Hopkins Medical Center, particularly for individuals who have epilepsy. The researchers established that fasting enhanced the number of seizures the patients experienced. Nonetheless, since fasting isn’t an accomplishable purpose nowadays, a diet has been developed that would trick the body into believing it was in that process.
If you want to use a ketogenic diet as a health tool, it would be wise to do so for no more than a few weeks at a time, as nobody knows how long is too long. And, of course, the period of time during which ketosis is safe can vary from individual to individual. Breaking ketosis is as easy as upping protein intake or having a glass of wine or whole piece of fruit.
Click here to join my newsletter and I’ll keep you posted when I get new articles up (FYI: as a heads up, I also write about entrepreneurship and web development. I started writing about fat metabolism and ketogenic dieting here at KetoSchool out of pure hobby interest, as there are relatively few resources out there that teach the underlying science).
He has been on keto diet for at least 3 years now. I think that he is some proof that yes, it does work. And it may be that some people do need keto. However, I don’t believe that everyone needs keto diet to get reversal. I have had reversal with regular ADA diet in my clinic. Not just a few! Many have reversed. However, I just want for keto dieters to find a clinical trial. We do need more information. We must understand what happens in the long term on keto diet. I personally did Atkins years ago, which was 20 grams. I had a very hard time to stay on it. I lost 20 pounds, and then I did gain it back. I just could not live without some more carbohydrates than this allowed. I don’t know about being on 60 to 70 carbs, and staying in ketosis. It seemed I was out of it at 22 carbs. Anyway, this was not for me. Maybe it is for you. No one is saying that one should never go on a keto diet, but we are wary of it. We need more science behind it. Therefore, I am just going to put this out here now. I will paste it down the page so that others may see it. They are taking participants. If you fit the criteria, please help us to get more than people’s opinion about this diet. Then we can be more positive about it, and recommend it if the science is there. Here is the link to the clinical trial. Thanks for your comments:
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So one study looked at the long-term effects of a keto diet in obese patients and after 24 weeks, patients lost weight, reduced their total cholesterol, LDL, triglycerides and increased their HDL. Another study conducted on 132 obese patients found that the low carb (keto) group lost more weight than the low fat group while improving biomarkers like decreased triglycerides, improved insulin sensitivity, and decreased fasting glucose. This all was confirmed in a 2013 meta-analysis, 13 RCTs (1,569 participants) found that patients assigned to a very low carbohydrate diet resulted in greater weight loss compared to those assigned to a low-fat diet.
Also, consider supplementing with the amino acid leucine, as it can be broken down directly into acetyl-CoA, making it one of the most important ketogenic amino acids in the body. While most other amino acids are converted into glucose, the acetyl-CoA formed from leucine can be used to make ketone bodies. It’s also present in keto friendly foods like eggs and cottage cheese.
Depending on how you choose your fats, the keto diet can contain an abundance of saturated fat, which raises levels of dangerous LDL cholesterol and causes atherosclerosis, the buildup of fats and cholesterol in the arteries. If you decide to go keto, have a doctor monitor your cholesterol levels monthly to ensure you remain within a healthy range.
Across the globe, diets high in vegetables and fruit are linked to reducing long-term chronic disease risk, including diabetes, heart disease, and lifestyle-related cancers. Data suggests that the more produce we eat, the better off we are. On keto, however, you have to restrict how many net carbs (and therefore, veggies) you’re consuming per day, minimizing their beneficial effects.
What makes the the ketogenic diet unique among low-carb diets is that it’s characterized by a drastic reduction in carbohydrates (usually less than 30–50 grams per day, depending on individual goals) and also a significant increase in fats, as opposed to protein. The goal of the KD is to enter the metabolic state of ketosis, which happens after a few days of strict carbohydrate restriction.
There are occasional instances of cardiomyopathies (heart muscle diseases, heart failure) and sudden cardiac death–The immediate causes are unclear, though at least some cases are due to severe selenium deficiency. The picture is muddied by the fact that some kids were fed large quantities of corn oil in past as a means of maintaining ketosis. Nonetheless, it suggests further uncertainties with prolonged ketosis.
Of all the high-carbohydrate foods that are eliminated in the low-carb ketogenic diet cutting out wheat products — bread, cereals, baked goods, pasta — may be the most significant for mental health disorders. It has been known for more than 50 years that an associate appears to exist between wheat consumption and symptoms for some people with schizophrenia.
In Dr. Mercola’s “Fat for Fuel” book, he emphasized the importance of consuming healthy fats, since these are actually the body’s preferred source of fuel. In order for your body to turn fat into energy, it has to be in a state of nutritional ketosis. You can induce your body into this condition through a ketogenic diet — a dietary approach that focuses on three key points: high consumption of healthy fats, moderate intake of high-quality protein and minimal amounts of carbohydrates.
"Many of the richest sources of fiber, like beans, fruit, and whole grains are restricted on the ketogenic diet," registered dietician Edwina Clark told Everyday Health. "As a result, ketogenic eaters miss out on the benefits of fiber-rich diet such as regular laxation and microbiome support. The microbiome has been implicated in everything from immune function to mental health."
Case in point, Steve Richert has Type 1 Diabetes and his September 1, 2015 blog The Ketogenic Diet and Type 1 Diabetes: What I Eat. He gave it the good old college try and has fearlessly came back and showed us all his results. His cholesterol increased, which just like mine, was due genetic factors, but was exacerbated by the Ketogenic Diet. So, what’s the best part of Steve’s story? He’s coming close to being right in line with what I would recommend for him! Moderation and the mediterranean diet; he’s currently trying a modified ketogenic diet or really a modified mediterranean diet. Brilliant and exactly what we all should be doing!
The average American eats entirely too much sodium, but on the keto diet, you may struggle to eat enough. “One main concern from a dietary standpoint is an increased risk of dehydration and hyponatremia (low blood sodium), especially when exercising intensely in hot environment,” Fisher says. Low levels of sodium in your body can lead to leg cramps, decreased energy, confusion, and even vomiting. “Add a pinch of salt to every meal,” Dr. Petre says. Sea salt is recommended, as it also provides some traces of minerals. Add a pinch to any one of these 10 keto recipes that are so good they’ll make you forget you’re on a diet.
Because carbohydrates are restricted to less than 50 grams a day, the issue of micronutrient deficiencies can occur. Thiamin, folate, calcium, iron, potassium, and magnesium are typically inadequate in low-carb diets. The best thing to do to avoid this is to make sure you take a high-quality multivitamin to ensure you get 100 percent of the daily value. Also supplementing with a fiber supplement is a good idea to make sure your plumbing doesn't get clogged.
So yes, the ketogenic diet is safe for diabetics. However, they still need to be closely monitored because diabetes medications including insulin, blood pressure, and beta blockers will have to be adjusted down when following a ketogenic diet. Therefore, the diabetic should do this with supervision from a doctor who is up to date with the nutritional literature.