Ketogenic Diet: A Brief Overview
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Ketogenic Diet: Brief Overview
Although we have become a society of low-fat and non-fat foods, there is substantial evidence that consuming the correct fats in specified amounts can improve health.
The ketogenic diet consists of consuming a large percentage of fats, with low to moderate protein and even lower carbohydrate ratios. This combination modifies the way energy is used in the body. The diet is intended to replace the main energy source, glucose, a product of carbohydrate breakdown, with ketones, a product of fatty acid breakdown.
The ketogenic diet is most appraised for its use as an alternative therapy for children with drug-resistant epilepsy. However, this diet has been found to be effective in addressing a variety of health concerns. There are a few overarching categories of health concerns for which the production of ketones may have therapeutic effects. These include: conditions of insulin resistance, ailments deriving from free radical damage, and disorders resulting from hypoxia. The induction of mild ketosis offers a method for obtaining tighter control of blood glucose in diabetics without the induction of the physiological consequences of hypoglycemia on cerebral function. There is even research to support the use of a ketogenic diet in Parkinson's disease, cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, ALS, acne, PCOS, headaches, and sleep and mental health disorders. One recent study provides insight into the therapeutic potential of a ketogenic diet and its positive influence on gut microbial composition.
Individuals considering beginning the ketogenic diet should be medically evaluated to rule out any inborn errors of metabolism that could lead to a metabolic crisis.4 Precaution should also be taken in those who have had a cholecystectomy, those with compromised liver function, women who are pregnant and someone with renal failure.
The diet can be difficult to maintain. Inability to maintain compliance and adequate nutrition with the diet are commonly the cause for discontinuation and lack of successful outcomes. When first beginning the diet, some have described experiencing the keto flu. These sensations decrease as your body gets more accustomed to being in ketosis. Most individuals experience reduced hunger and cravings, and improved energy, concentration and mental performance after following the regimen regularly.
Carbohydrate cycling or Cyclical Ketogenic Diet
This method refers to alternating high-carb and low-carb eating regimens in order to further fat loss and muscle building. The ketogenic diet trains the body to use fats as its primary energy source by reducing carbohydrate consumption and therefore glycogen stores in the body. The body needs glycogen to build muscle. Therefore some individuals advocate for incorporating carbohydrate “re-feed” days to replenish the glycogen stores and boost muscle growth. On high-carb days, the body will temporarily come out of ketosis and replenish the muscles with glycogen. However, it is important not to consume more carbohydrates than needed to replenish stores because this can cause any excess to be stored as fat. It is commonly recommended to have five days of low-carbohydrate consumption and one to two high-carb days to replenish glycogen stores.
Instead of avoiding fat consumption, it can be used to benefit health!
- Newell, Christopher et al. “Ketogenic Diet Modifies the Gut Microbiota in a Murine Model of Autism Spectrum Disorder.” Molecular Autism 7.1 (2016): 37.
- Halevy, Ayelet, Lilach Peleg-Weiss, Roni Cohen, and Avinoam Shuper. "An Update on the Ketogenic Diet, 2012." RMMJ Rambam Maimonides Medical Journal 3.1 (2012)
- Cross JH, McLellan A, Neal EG, Philip S, Williams E, Williams RE. The ketogenic diet in childhood epilepsy: where are we now? Arch Dis Child 2010;95:550–7
- Veech, Richard L. "The Therapeutic Implications of Ketone Bodies: The Effects of Ketone Bodies in Pathological Conditions: Ketosis, Ketogenic Diet, Redox States, Insulin Resistance, and Mitochondrial Metabolism." Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids 70.3 (2004): 309-19.
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