It’s a fairly common scene for new keto dieters. Aubrey Marcus recently referenced a highly-disturbing stat that 25% of physicians still equate consuming dietary cholesterol with increased blood cholesterol, an association that has been unequivocally refuted by recent science. But before you accept AHA-sanctioned diet advice, determine if there’s actually a problem.
Here’s the thing, the Keto diet can be executed in many different ways. The only requirement for achieving ketosis is to restrict carbs and limit protein so that the bodies glycogen reserves are depleted to the point that ketosis kicks in. If you do that by eating hot dogs and margarine then I agree with this claim, you are on a dangerous nutrient-deficient diet. However, if one chooses to achieve ketosis by eating fatty cuts of quality meat, dairy, nuts and plenty green leaves and fibrous vegetables-they are on a nutrient dense, complete diet.
Starting in the 1970s, when the Atkin’s Diet book was first published, low-carb diets have caught the attention of many people trying to lose weight and improve their health. The ketogenic diet (KD), which is both very low in carbohydrates and also very high in fats, has become one of the most talked-about diets in the past several years. With its rise in popularity, it’s no surprise that the keto diet has recently been the focus of dozens of research studies.
Keto is often suggested for children who suffer from certain disorders (like Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or Rett syndrome) and don’t respond to seizure medication, according to the Epilepsy Foundation. (1) They note that keto can decrease the number of seizures these children have by half, with 10 to 15 percent becoming seizure-free. In other cases, it may also help patients reduce the dose of their medication.
While it's not necessarily dangerous, bad breath is a known side effect of entering ketosis. When you’re taking in a lot of fat, your liver metabolizes it and eventually converts it into smaller ketone bodies. These ketones (including acetone — yep, like nail polish remover acetone) will circulate in your body and diffuse into your lungs. Your body wants balance, so you'll exhale ketones to avoid build-up in your bloodstream. Those compounds are what cause keto breath: a metallic-tasting, somewhat stinky side effect.
Insulin resistance is caused by several mechanisms, one of which is chronically elevated insulin levels. So what increases insulin levels? Mainly sugar. A poor nights sleep can do it too, but sugar is a big one. This can be sugar that is part of our diet or carbohydrates that are broken down to glucose or other simple carbs. Proteins put together with fats can also be converted into sugar, a process called gluconeogenesis. However, it is really the effect of dietary refined sugars and starches (flour) causing blood sugar and insulin spikes (not protein). These insulin spikes from added sugars and flour are then often followed by a blood sugar crash, leading to a sense of discomfort, even sweating, and usually a craving for more high-carb foods.
This high fat/low carb diet may also help improve certain other neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease,3 according to the Epilepsy Foundation. More than half the children with epilepsy who were put on the diet experienced half as many seizures, while 10 to 15 percent of the patients who followed this diet became seizure-free.
Eating a keto diet can have some short-term health perks. But in the long run, it also has the potential to create some serious health problems. That’s why many experts say you shouldn’t attempt it on your own. “In general, if a person follows a ketogenic diet, they should only do so for a brief time and under close medical supervision,” says Hultin.
Even though people might argue about the importance of including carbohydrates in their diet, no one can affirm that packed snack foods are beneficial. The ketogenic diet eliminates processed foods. So, you can stay away from adding sugar and refined carbs in your meals. In this direction, a scientific study available in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition actually indicates that following a ketogenic diet may significantly enhance insulin sensitivity for patients who have type 2 diabetes.
The low-carb, high-fat approach to the keto diet limits the types of foods you can have, and entire food groups are eliminated entirely. Beans, legumes, and whole grains are out, as are many fruits and vegetables. Many of these foods carry vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients you can’t get from any other source, and without them, you may start to experience nutritional deficiencies.
There are people who say that keto helps your athletic performance, and those who say it hurts it. "The literature is mixed on how an ultra low-carbohydrate diet like the keto diet affects athletic performance," says Grant Cox, C.S.C.S., head coach at Iron Tribe Fitness. But one thing is pretty clear: "A lot of it points to consistent decreases when athletes are looking for maximal power output (in weightlifting, vertical jumps, sprinting, etc.). Along the same lines, you'd be hard-pressed to put on weight and strength on such a low carbohydrate diet," he says.
The New York Times pieces also points out that studies are disproving this concern and making a case for both children and adults with type 1 diabetes to consider a ketogenic diet. Specifically, a 2018 study published in the journal, Pediatrics, which took a look at glycemic control among children and adults with type 1 diabetes who followed a very low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet. The researchers found that both the adults and children who consumed this diet along with smaller doses of insulin than typically required exhibited “exceptional” blood sugar control without high rates of complications. In addition, the study data did not show an adverse effect of a very low-carbohydrate diet on children’s growth, although more research may still be a good idea, according to researchers.
Reduced hunger. Many people experience a marked reduction in hunger on a keto diet. This may be caused by an increased ability of the body to be fueled by its fat stores. Many people feel great when they eat just once or twice a day, and may automatically end up doing a form of intermittent fasting. This saves time and money, while also speeding up weight loss.
The author wrote this out of angst because she failed at the ketogenic diet. It’s not a “hard” diet and you don’t have to give up all forms of desserts. You just have to learn to cook using stevia, almond or coconut flour instead of the white refined flours the author is addicted to. The information presented is false as well. The ketogenic diet has great benefits for the type two diabetic or prediabetic specifically.
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.
Since carbohydrates do increase insulin and insulin is a storage hormone many people have made large leaps of logic to point the finger at carbohydrates as the primary cause of fat gain and obesity as opposed to overall caloric intake. They also point out that in a keto diet, carbohydrates are not being used as fuel hardly at all whereas fats become the primary fuel.
Until recently, ketosis was viewed with apprehension in the medical world; however, current advances in nutritional research have discounted this apprehension and increased public awareness about its favourable effects. In humans, ketone bodies are the only additional source of brain energy after glucose (23,24). Thus, the use of ketone bodies by the brain could be a significant evolutionary development that occurred in parallel with brain development in humans. Hepatic generation of ketone bodies during fasting is essential to provide an alternate fuel to glucose. This is necessary to spare the destruction of muscle from glucose synthesis.
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.
“What many diabetics aren’t aware of, is that it is the fat that is the problem when it comes to type 2 diabetes. Nearly 100 years ago, healthy volunteers were split into two groups – half were fed a fat-rich diet, and the other half on a carb-rich diet. Within just two days, the fatty diet groups’ glucose intolerance skyrocketed to amounts twice as high as those fed a carbohydrate-rich diet (9).
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.