Ketogenic Diet - Simply put it is a diet that is extremely limited in terms of carbohydrate content so that your body is forced to go into a different metabolic pathway to produce energy. As we all have heard , long distance runners load up on carbohydrates since they are the primary and initial energy source prioritized by your body.
What is the ketogenic diet? It is when all the carbohydrate stores are used up. Not only carbohydrates from your last meal but also the carbohydrates stored as glycogen in your liver. With the ongoing demand for energy simply to keep you alive, the body them resorts to the Krebs cycle for energy and starts to break down fats. With the metabolism of fats ketones are given off . During this transition, the physiologic changes are often referred to as the induction phase of the ketogenic diet and may take 2 to 3 days depending on how careful you are about every gram of carbohydrate you ingest.
As I have noted in prior posts the ketogenic diet truly was established as a result of the work done by Dr. Adkins and his famous Adkins diet. He has written countless books about the diet and for many it has been the answer to weight loss. What is remarkable about the diet is that you can actually eat all the food you want as long as the total carbohydrate grams in the diet are kept very low. For every individual the amount of carbohydrates it will take to maintain “ketosis” is different as it depends on your daily minimal caloric requirements and how much you increase your burning of calories through exercise or any form of increased physical activity.
There have been and still are those who have problems with the diet and rightfully so based on what we have known for many years. The first, is simply the fact that sustaining a diet that metabolizes fat will eventually resort to the final source of energy and start metabolizing protein. Clearly, allowing the diet to get to this stage is very unhealthy and dangerous as protein metabolism if not from your diet , will entail metabolizing your muscle etc. which is not a sustainable state for the body to continue functioning.
The second criticism that has been discussed for years is that the diet is composed of unhealthy foods , primarily fatty foods and goes against all we have learned about the adverse effects of fat and cholesterol in the development of cardiovascular disease. This argument to this day does remain a concern ; however, studies have been done through the years that have not seen a rise in the levels of cholesterol and triglycerides .
As to whether it is suitable for a particular individual is completely up to one’s health care provider. Diabetics are well-versed when it comes to this topic as they must carefully balance the carbohydrate needs of the body and how much insulin is necessary. For diabetics the lack of insulin can be life threatening if they get into a state of ketoacidosis. While others how clearly are obese and do not have diabetes may find this diet very effective.
The ketogenic diet is clearly a very aggressive step to take to lose weight and must be recognized as such. Any consideration of dieting in this way , as I have already mentioned must be under the supervision of an individual’s health care provider.
What is most difficult for many to understand is that this diet is not based on calories. In fact, one can eat normal portions of food and lose weight as long as the amount of carbohydrates are kept at a level that allows the body to burn fat which can be monitored by measuring ketone levels in the urine.
The diet in its extreme form is not intended to be done long term. After reaching the desired weight loss results Dr. Adkins has always made it very clear that one should then go on a maintenance diet taking in just the right balance of carbohydrates.
It is not for everyone and there are varied opinions on how healthy the diet is. One fact I must mention is that the Low-carb diet we hear so much about today is not , in most cases, the ketogenic diet , but does help to stabilize blood sugar and insulin levels in those who may be insulin resistant.
This article is not intended to diagnose, prevent, treat or cure any medical condition. It is strictly intended to educate about the low carbohydrate diet.