What is The Ketogenic Diet?

My neighbor said he just received his delivery from an online grocery order and was laughing about what he got. He said “I got 16 bags of pork rinds! I am on Keto and that is allowed on my diet.” I guess the 16 bags was more than he intended but what kind of diet “allows” pork rind?


The Ketogenic diet has been receiving a lot of attention for rapid weight loss, glucose control, neurological disorders and more. This diet provides a high amount of fat and a very low amount of carbohydrates. Recommendations vary between 55-60 % calories from fat to 70-80 % calories from fat. It is different from Paleo and Atkins because of the extremelly high amount of fat. Carbohydrate intake is limited to 20-50 grams a day, an apple has 25 grams of carbohydrate.

How does it work in our body? The Ketogenic diet shifts our body to use ketone bodies as a primary source of energy. Glucose is the body’s primary and preferred source of energy. Ketosis is the body’s way to adapt to starvation or lack of food. Ketone bodies are produced when our bodies don’t have enough glucose due to low carbohydrate intake. They are made by breaking down fat. The ketone bodies then supply fuel to our muscles and all of our major organs.

Some possible short-term side effects are nausea, vomiting, headache, tiredness, dizziness, and constipation. Those symptoms may go away in a few days to a few weeks. Drinking enough fluids and electrolytes can help managing them. Some possible long-term effects are kidney stones and vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Many studies have also reported dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, and low blood sugar associated with the diet.

The diet’s long-term effects are not understood well. Some of the possible effects involve the GI tract and the low fiber content. The GI microbiome is effected by our diet, especially the amount of fat and fiber consumed. This is a new area of research but we are learning that our microbiome plays a role in many chronic diseases. Other long term consequences of this low fiber diet could be diverticulosis and colon cancer.

This diet also reinforces a diet mentality with “all or nothing” and “good food vs bad food “ thinking. Mentally and phyisically it is difficult to go on and off a diet. Changing eating and activity habits are proven to be successful in achieving long term weight loss.

People with certain medical conditions should not try a ketogenic diet. Examples of conditions are liver failure and disorder of fat metabolism. People with diabetes and those who are taking insulin or medications need to adjust their doses before starting the diet.

The Ketogenic diet has been reported as difficult to stay on for a long time. The diet can be followed for 2weeks - 12 months. The function of kidneys should be monitored during the period. People should slowly change back to a standard diet upon discontinuation. Further studies are needed to determine safety, long term effects, and more to better understand its effects.

 

LISA SAYS:

This diet reinforces a diet mentality with “all or nothing” and “good food vs bad food thinking. Mentally and physically it is difficult to go on and off a diet. Changing eating and activity habits are proven to be successful in achieving long term weight loss.


Co-written by Ayako Hoblick and Lisa Gibson, MS, RDN, FAND

 
RESOURCES: Connolly, MD, Satrazemis, RD, CSSD. “The Keto diet explained by a Doctor and a Dietitian”, Trifectanutrition.com; September 4, 2018 Gordon, Barbara, RDN. Eatright.org website; May 15, 2019 Masood W, Uppaluri KR. StatPearls [Internet]. StatPearls Publishing;Treasure Island (FL): March 21, 2019. Ketogenic diet.
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