By now, we have all heard about the Ketogenic Diet (or "Keto" Diet, for short), but before we throw away everything in the fridge to jump on the fad-diet bandwagon again, is this meal plan actually healthy?
First, let's talk about what the diet entails. This food lifestyle cuts out carbs pretty much entirely, forcing the body to rely on fat for its energy. A person following this diet would eat:
- no grains
-Minimal-to-no starchy vegetables
- WOULD eat large quantities of saturated fat in butters, fatty meats, coconut oil, cheese, etc.
Weight loss and tons of cheese? Seems pretty ideal, right? Well, not necessarily. A short-term Ketogenic diet may help a moderately overweight person lose weight quickly, but it is not an ideal diet plan long-term. Consuming huge amounts of saturated fat is an essentially guaranteed path to heart disease, one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Also, the lack of crucial carbohydrates will destroy your brain tissue if the diet is practiced over a long period of time. AS I mentioned in the previous blog, the brain cannot use anything but carbohydrates for energy; it CANNOT use fat!
"So, maybe I just want to be skinny and dumb! What's the big deal?" Well, I hate to disappoint, but this diet may actually cause weight GAIN in the long-term. Forcing one's body out of its normal cycle of receiving regular glucose from starchy foods may lead to permanent and irreparable hormonal imbalances, as the entire metabolism attempts to adjust to this new style of energy attainment. Notice how I mentioned a "moderately overweight" person before? This phenomenon would be greatly exacerbated in an obese or morbid patient, as their hormone levels are already at risk of imbalance.
To put things into perspective a bit, ketones are usually found in the blood during periods of starvation or with untreated Type-1 Diabetes. The body is not meant to survive on fat long-term, and so it may begin holding onto every carbohydrate (and carbohydrate calorie) a patient eats once they inevitably endure a blood sugar crash and eat something starchy. Should one attempt this diet for more than a maximum of six months, that hormonal change could become permanent.
Lastly (and maybe most importantly), this diet can be FATAL to Diabetics! Other healthcare workers are comparing this diet to Adkins, but it is a bit more restrictive. The diet looks for close-to-no carbohydrates, asking for reliance on cheese and yogurt for sustenance. This carb count is too low to be maintained long-term. A normal Diabetic diet in the hospital entails a daily meal plan of 60 grams of carbohydrates at 3 meals, and 2 snacks with 15 grams of carbs each. A Medical Diabetic weight-loss plan suggests 45g and 10g, same pattern. To put things into perspective here, the latter carb count is probably 3 times what a Keto dieter would eat in an entire day. A patient with Diabetes may find themselves feeling frequently faint and lethargic trying this out - or may even suffer Ketoacidosis, which can be fatal. Notice how Ketosis and Ketoacidosis sound eerily similar? That's because both are terms for a similarly dangerous medical abnormality. It's better not to mess with this, or any fad diets.
So, the best way? Honestly, eating differently is much more effective than eating less. I eat more now than I did 180 pounds ago, and I have never been in as good of shape. It all comes down to balance - carbohydrates and proteins, getting in enough veggies in a way that doesn't bore you to tears. Eat your fruits - not just bananas either! I drink almond milk and eat yogurt for my dairy, and get in a NORMAL amount of nuts or other healthy fats. Nutrition really is simple ultimately (this is me in hindsight, of course), but I know how difficult it can be to figure out what is best for you specifically. For more information about the perfect diet for you, visit www.devynlifewellness.com/