Ketogenic diet: is it worth it?

In recent times the ketogenic diet or more popularly called the keto diet’ has become one of the many ways to loose weight. The trend has been picking up mainstream popularity as more and more people are trying it and sharing the results they have got. But depriving the body of something that is essential for body, a really good idea? Today we’ll look at some of the benefits and risks of following a keto diet and also the long-term effects on health, if it has any.

History

The ketogenic diet is a mainstream dietary therapy that was developed to reproduce the success and remove the limitations of the non-mainstream use of fasting to treat epilepsy. Although popular in the 1920s and ’30s, it was largely abandoned in favour of new anticonvulsant drugs. The diet picked up popularity again in the 1990’s especially in the US as a side treatment of epilepsy again.

What is ketogenic diet?

It is a type of diet where a person eats a very low amount of carbohydrates and high amount of healthy fats with normal to increased amount of proteins in the diet. The body gradually learns to function without the carbs and use fats as the fuel. The live converts the fats to ketone bodies which provides energy to the body and especially brain in place of carbs.

Types of keto diets

  1. Standard Ketogenic diet (SKD): This is a very low-carb, moderate-protein and high-fat diet. It typically contains 75% fat, 20% protein and only 5% carbs
  2. Cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD): This diet involves periods of higher-carb refeeds, such as 5 ketogenic days followed by 2 high-carb days.
  3. Targeted ketogenic diet (TKD): This diet allows you to add carbs around workouts.
  4. High-protein ketogenic diet: This is similar to a standard ketogenic diet, but includes more protein. The ratio is often 60% fat, 35% protein and 5% carbs.

At present only SKD and high-protein ketogenic diets have been studied extensively. Other ones are more advanced methods and primarily used by bodybuilders or athletes.

Benefits of Ketogenic diet

1. Weight loss

The most popular benefit that most people know of keto diet is weight loss. The dies=t is practiced now everywhere in the world to support weight loss programmes. Ketogenic diets consist of foods that fill a person up and may reduce hunger stimulating hormones.  For these reasons, following a keto diet may reduce appetite and promote weight loss. In 2013 a meta analysis found out that people following keto diet along with their weight loss programmes lost 1 kg more than people who followed other types of low-fat diet for a year.

2. Heart Health

A study in 2017 of humans and animals showed a slight decreased in the LDL levels, the bad cholesterol, and slight increase in HDL, the good cholesterol. But no there is still no definitive evidence that it benefit heart health.

3. Acne

Eating a diet high in processed and refined carbohydrates may alter the balance of gut bacteria and cause blood sugar to rise and fall significantly, both of which can adversely affect skin health. According to a 2012 study, by decreasing carb intake, a ketogenic diet could reduce acne symptoms in some people.

4. Cancers

The low carbohydrate diet decreases insulin level, which has been linked to some of the cancers. Although some research indicates that the ketogenic diet may have some benefit in cancer treatment, studies in this area are limited. Researchers need to carry out more studies to fully understand the potential benefits of the ketogenic diet in cancer prevention and treatment

5. PCOS

The low carb diet also benefits in supporting the treatment of PCOS. Due to the wight loss there is stabilisation and improvement of several markers of PCOS, including:

  • weight loss
  • hormone balance
  • ratios of luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)
  • levels of fasting insulin

6. Epilepsy

The keto diet has been shown to benefit people having epilepsy. But using it as a long term treatment is still controversial as it has many side effects which can harm the body. Hence mainly today epilepsy is treated with drugs and other form of therapies.

Risks of Ketogenic diet

  1. The keto diet can cause adverse side effects that many people know as keto flu. These adverse effects may include:
  • constipation
  • fatigue
  • low blood sugar
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • headaches
  • a low tolerance for exercise

2. Kidney stones

The ketogenic diet due to excess ketone bodies may cause kidney stones.

3. Fat build-up

Due to increased and sustained intake of high amount of fats, there can be fat build-up in the liver causing damage to it.

4. Deficiencies

This diet is know to cause various vitamin and mineral deficiency when followed for a long time. For example, vitamin b complex deficiency is known in people following ketogenic diet, even with the supplements.

In conclusion,

It might seem beneficial to follow ketogenic diet for short term, for different benefits it has, but using it as a short cut especially for weight loss can be harmful in the long term. Loosing too much weigh quickly by this is also harmful as the body is not able to adjust to the wight loss and to the low carb state.

One thought on “Ketogenic diet: is it worth it?

  1. Good write up. Regarding the long term effects of a keto diet, scientists aren’t at all sure. Nutritional science is a tough field to get clear results so while it may be safe, probably better to cycle on and off — much like we would have done throughout human history. Cheers

    Liked by 1 person

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