More and more studies show that low-carb diets are an effective way to lose weight: A 2018 report out of Framingham State University found that after five months on a low-carb, high-fat diet, overweight adults burned about 250 more calories daily than people who ate a high-carb, low-fat diet. The keto diet in particular has a number of famous adherents, including Halle Berry, Katie Couric and Gwyneth Paltrow. Kourtney Kardashian blogged about doing keto, calling it “a really positive experience.” And keto-friendly recipes, snacks and meal plans have proliferated in the past few years.
Many people and even some doctors confuse nutritional ketosis with (diabetic) ketoacidosis. Ketoacidosis occurs in uncontrolled diabetes when the pancreas cannot secrete enough insulin to exert its action in cells, so blood glucose levels and blood ketones both skyrocket to dangerously high levels. Ketoacidosis has nothing to do with nutritional ketosis which is when ketones are produced from all the dietary fat you’re relying on and can thus keep your blood sugar levels under control at low and stable levels.
"Keto is not a great long-term diet, as it is not a balanced diet," Nancy Rahnama, M.D., M.S., an internal medicine and bariatric specialist, told Reader's Digest. "A diet that is devoid of fruit and vegetables will result in long-term micronutrient deficiencies that can have other consequences. The keto diet can be used for short-term fat loss, as long as it is under medical supervision."
Kidney stones are a well-noted potential side effect of the ketogenic diet. Research published in the Journal of Child Neurology observed that among children following the keto diet as a treatment for epilepsy, 13 out of 195 subjects developed kidney stones. Children supplementing with potassium citrate in the study noticed a decreased likelihood of kidney stones. Speak with your healthcare practitioner about supplementing if kidney stones are a concern.
The keto diet gained most of its attention for its role in the nutritional management of epilepsy and Alzheimers. More recently, science has shown positive clinical outcomes for a number of types of cancers through its ability to minimize tumor growth. In the case of all three of these diseases, ketones are therapeutic through providing an alternative substrate to glucose.
Carbs are still the primary fuel for the body during high-intensity exercise. A ketogenic diet may be better suited to athletes performing endurance sports (like marathon running or cycling). Athletes engaged in more intense cardio (like sprinting, hockey, football) may perform better with a higher percentage of carbohydrates. These athletes may experience a decrease in high-intensity output while following a ketogenic diet, but ultimately, a lowered carbohydrate intake as isn’t “dangerous” for athletes.
That’s why many health experts are concerned about people on the keto diet, especially those who try it without the guidance of a doctor or nutritionist. Doctors say that high-fat diets like this one may raise cholesterol levels, and some studies suggest that they increase the risk of diabetes. Some have even called it a “cardiologist’s nightmare.”
This effect can also be demonstrated by researchers at Kraft Foods, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. For 12 weeks one group ate a low fat, calorie restricted date, and the other ate a low-carb, high-fat diet without restriction… other than low carb of course. After 12 weeks, the low-fat group lost 5.5 pounds and the low-carb group lost 10.8 pounds.
This diet also entails weight loss because it gets rid of excess water content in the body due to a lower amount of insulin produced. The food is broken down into simple sugars, with excess energy stored as complex sugars. The pancreas produces insulin that helps regulates sugar breakdown in the body. The body needs less sugar in switching to higher intake of fat. The liver can break down fatty acids to energy in ketogenic diets. Due to eating less carbohydrate or sugars, the production lowered. In a study, 90% of all type 2 diabetics were able to lower or completely eliminate their diabetic medication after 6 months of being on a low carbohydrate diet.
Imagine your body is a home with a fireplace in the middle and the heat required to keep it at a comfortable\livable temp is keeping the fireplace burning at a manageable and constant pace. To do this you have two fuel-types at your disposal: Kerosene and Charcoal. (in this analogy Kerosene is carbohydrates and coal is fat). American diets are high in carbs, which is like throwing a bucket full of kerosene on that fire. Will it keep the house warm? Sure, but it burns down fast so you have to keep throwing bucket after bucket on it to keep it going, consuming tons of kerosene, and you get these huge spikes in heat. It is much harder to control the strength of the flame, and thus much harder to keep the house at a constant, comfortable temp.
3. Ketone bodies are NOT a better source of energy than glucose. Your body uses SO much more energy just to MAKE ketone bodies. Basically, your cells take in fats and turn these into Acetyl CoA in the mitochondria. In a NORMAL cell, this acetyl CoA would go through the Citric Acid Cycle and onto the Electron Transport Chain, making energy that can be used by ALL of your cells. ( In a cell that is in the state of Ketosis (AKA Starvation), the acetyl CoA is not used for the citric acid cycle, but is instead used to make the ketone bodies. The ketone bodies then make their way to the brain. Not to mention, gluconeogenesis is also occurring (at depleted rates at this point …. you know, because you’re running out of those scary glycogens.) And remember, gluconeogenesis is also energetically expensive, along with the production of ketone bodies. So all in all, you are losing energy by resorting to Ketosis.
Plagued by pimples? You may start to notice a difference in your skin on the keto diet, especially if you were a former sugar addict. Consuming lots of empty carbs is linked to worse acne—in part because these foods trigger inflammation and signal the release of hormones that up the production of pore-clogging oils, according to a review published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Some findings suggest that curbing your carb intake could help solve these problems, improving your skin as a result.
Having said that, there are also studies suggesting that long term carbohydrate restriction diets (aka. the keto diet) may result in fast short term weight loss but people gain it all back in the long term. An RCT put 63 individuals on a low-fat diet or a low carb diet, and the study found the low carb dieters lost more weight compared to the low fat group by month 3 and 6, but that the weight loss evened out by month 12. This was confirmed by a Meta-analysis which found that while low-carbers lost more weight than low-fat dieters but the differences disappeared by the one year mark.
A keto diet has shown to improve triglyceride levels and cholesterol levels most associated with arterial buildup. More specifically low-carb, high-fat diets show a dramatic increase in HDL and decrease in LDL particle concentration compared to low-fat diets.3A study in the long-term effects of a ketogenic diet shows a significant reduction in cholesterol levels, body weight, and blood glucose. Read more on keto and cholesterol >