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.
To understand what the keto diet is, you have to understand a little about how your body generates and uses energy for daily activity. All day, every day, your body undertakes a series of chemical processes (together referred to as metabolism) to break down and use a combination of carbohydrates and fats to produce energy. The energy produced is used for everything -- from breathing to brushing your teeth to running to catch a taxi. Your body is burning fuel constantly just to sustain basic life function. And while your body is always burning a combination of fats and carbohydrates, your brain’s primary fuel source is carbohydrates… and your brain requires a surprising amount of energy to get you through each day.
Far from being a new “fad diet”, the keto diet— a very low carb, high fat diet — has been used by doctors since the 1920’s to treat patients with serious illnesses. In recent years the keto diet has steadily been gaining more attention, due to how it promotes weight loss by forcing the body to burn fat for energy. More than ever before, a wider audience is now considering trying the keto diet, including those interested in benefits beyond weight loss. Examples include a reduced risk for diabetes, increased energy and protection against age-related neurological diseases. (1)
The word “keto” often has negative associations for people living with diabetes, especially Type 1. DKA, diabetic ketoacidosis, is a life-threatening condition arising when the body produces too many ketones. So how does entering ketosis deliberately through a conscientious diet differ from entering it accidentally? The answer has to do with the level of ketones, the former causing “regulated and controlled production” and the latter causing an overabundance.
Those with mental health conditions have higher rates of physical illness and premature mortality, with life spans shortened by 13 to 30 years. People with mental health conditions also have higher rates and worse outcomes for chronic conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Years lived with disability for mental and substance use disorders increased 45% from 1990 to 2013 worldwide – during the same time that the incidence of obesity and the diabetes exploded.
The low-carb diet induces ''nutritional ketosis," Dr. Saslow tells EndocrineWeb, which is not the same as ketoacidosis. Ketones are a chemical your body produces when you burn stored fat; if you are on a low-carb diet you may be ''in ketosis.'' Ketoacidosis is different; it is a life-threatening condition in which levels of ketones and blood sugar are dangerously high, which may occur in people who have poorly controlled diabetes.
OK, so this is the one most people probably actually care about. The great thing about the keto diet is that most dieters report not feeling hungry at all, likely because ketosis tends to suppress the hunger hormone, ghrelin, which helps tame our hangry monster within. So when you combine a satiating diet with the fact that you’re just cutting out a lot of foods, it makes perfect sense then that you’ll lose weight. One meta-analysis found that participants lost more weight on a very low-carb diet (like keto) compared with those on a low-fat diet.
Note: Are you a vegetarian or vegan and want to go on a ketogenic diet? It’s still possible! Just keep in mind that the dietary restrictions can sometimes be a little bit intense. Make sure to plan ahead and prepare to aid your success. To help out, we’ve published articles (with 7 day meal plans included) for both the vegetarian ketogenic diet and the vegan ketogenic diet.
If you’re wondering why iron is at risk on a meat-based diet, hear me out. Many grain foods provide a considerable amount of iron, because wholegrains naturally contain iron in their inner layer called the ‘germ’. Another reason is that some grain products can have iron added to them during manufacturing. So, once you cut grains out, your iron status could suffer, which can lead to unpleasant symptoms like tiredness and lethargy. It can even compromise your immune system.