I wasn’t planning on writing about the ketogenic diet but that all changed with my recent YouTube video. If you guys caught this video on my channel, my girl Abby Langer and I found a hilarious Reddit thread that shared some keto-followers favourite “strange but delicious” keto-friendly meals and snacks. Let’s just say, it was extreme. I was by no means under the impression that everyone (or even a large number of people) on the Keto diet ate that shit. But, I get why some viewers on youtube maybe thought that and they got PISSED. Like, viciously pissed.
This concept was previously unthinkable as modern nutritional science was led to believe that the body’s metabolism relied on gluconeogenesis to create ATP as energy for the body’s metabolic processes. Glycogen derives from dietary carbohydrate intake, so by removing it from the diet, nutritionists expected devastating health results to emerge in practitioners of the diet.
When the body is first deprived of carbohydrates, usually felt at around 50 grams per day or less, the body starts with gluconeogenesis which is the body using stored glucose (glycogen) from the liver and muscles for energy. When the stored glucose can no longer keep up with energy demands, which will happen because there’s limited storage of glucose, the body turns to using ketone bodies for energy.
I think what bothered me most about the article was the way in which the writer has put her own fears about living without cake onto the shoulders of any diabetic she might treat. In the same way an epileptic might choose a life without cake in order to remain seizure free I choose a life without cake to remain “undiabetic”. I must admit that when I was researching this diet I did worry that I would not have the stamina, but the thought of going blind is a useful motivator.
The keto diet restricts carbs so much that anyone who is on blood sugar lower medication or who has type 1 or type 2 diabetes must consult his or her doctor before making such a severe dietary change. As the body adapts to low-carb dieting, medication dosages and treatment plans will have to be revised, and blood sugar levels must be carefully monitored.
“With the start of the keto diet, the body switches from using sugar as a source of energy to using the body’s stored fat,” Rahnama explained. “In the process of breaking down fat, the body produces ketones, which are then removed by the body through frequent and increased urination. This may lead to dehydration and flu-like symptoms, such as fatigue, dizziness, irritability, nausea, and muscle soreness.”
Abbey, I appreciate all the work you put into this but there are a few things you missed. Not all oils are keto friendly. Vegetable oils are a huge no-no which was not mentioned. Regular mayo usually contains soybean oil which should be avoided. You also missed that foods with preservatives are a no-no which excludes some cheeses (you said enjoy all the cheese you like). Processed sliced cheese or pre-shredded cheese in a bag at the grocery store contains preservatives. Ever notice how shredded cheese in a bag never sticks to itself but when you shred your own cheese it sticks? Preservatives. Most nuts are okay but peanuts are a legume and should be consumed in very small amounts or avoided altogether. Don’t go crazy either, nuts do have carbs. I don’t eat more than a half cup a day of salted almonds. That said, you could have mentioned that getting salted nuts is ideal as you do excrete more salt and other minerals in your urine (eating keto is diuretic so attention must be paid to salt, potassium, magnesium, etc. as you did mention) so finding simple ways to add salt and other minerals is helpful. I also take a multi-vitamin daily. You mentioned you cannot do high intensity workouts. You are not supposed to do high intensity workouts as elevating your heart rate too high actually stops the fat burning process in your body. Your heart rate should be 180 beats minus your age +/- 5 beats depending on fitness level. A 40 year old obese person shouldn’t go over 135 beats/min during a workout as that is the optimal fat burning window. Higher than that and your body reverts to storing fat reserves thinking it will run out if it keeps this pace. Which bring me to metabolism. Its been long believed a high metabolism is good. A high metabolism leads to more hunger (because you’re burning glucose faster), ingesting more food, and typically gaining more weight. Slowing your metabolism down AND teaching your body to consume slow burning ketones instead of quick burning glucose puts less stress on your liver mainly and on your body in general. There’s a lot more but this is getting long so I’ll finish with this. You said this diet focuses on quantity of food and not quality. This is confusing to me….wouldn’t organic and grass-fed meats, be of better quality than non-organic and grain fed meat? (they feed animals grains to fatten them up….shouldn’t that be a huge warning sign for us?). Is food without preservatives not better quality than food with preservatives? Aren’t beverages with no sugar or artificial sweeteners of better quality than sugar/artificial sweetener-filled beverages? I’ve never seen any keto advocate advise ignoring quality foods, in fact its quite the opposite.
Two years in and I am this exact same story. I do agree that if one is not insulin resistant or diabetic and has normal insulin response there are other less restrictive diets that will work. I would also add that people fail and drop out of almost EVERY diet program for one reason or another so that argument is null and void. I am under a doctor’s care and am healthier than I have been in years. My only dietary “sin” is artificial sweeteners and I am not looking back! I have not cheated at all on high carb foods and am rarely even tempted. It is doable if your motivation is there and you have support which is true for any kind of life altering decision.
Look, the good doctor is right – he only forgot to stress “portion control” which is why many fanatical dieters are so kee-jerk reactive to any discussion – odds are you over ate like a hog before your keto diet, and are weak and insecure in your diet plans. Eat EVERYTHING in small amounts, and you will live long and prosper. The only thing to avoid are processed foods. Cook your meals from scratch using quality ingredients.
You may need more water. Going keto causes an initial reduction in fluid retention in cells throughout your body. Your digestive tract requires water to keep the fecal matter soft and moist. As you aspire to consume more fluid, be sure to add a pinch of salt to each cup of water you drink, and to sip steadily throughout the day instead of binge chugging. These measures will help you better absorb additional fluids instead of excrete them.
There’s also some evidence that it might help with type 2 diabetes. “An emerging body of research is finding that a keto plan may have some real benefits thanks to its ability to improve the body’s ability to use insulin and also help control appetite, which can result in easier weight loss,” says Karen Ansel, R.D.N., co-author of Healthy in a Hurry.
Studies are emerging that ketogenic diets (in conjunction with other treatments) can either reverse progressive brain disorders or help repair the damage. These include traumatic brain injuries and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. The Wahl’s Protocol also utilizes this benefit of the ketogenic diet to help repair neurological damage from multiple sclerosis.