The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet that in medicine is used primarily to treat difficult-to-control (refractory) epilepsy in children. The diet forces the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates. Normally, the carbohydrates contained in food are converted into glucose, which is then transported around the body and is particularly important in fueling brain function. However, if little carbohydrate remains in the diet, the liver converts fat into fatty acids and ketone bodies. The ketone bodies pass into the brain and replace glucose as an energy source. An elevated level of ketone bodies in the blood, a state known as ketosis, leads to a reduction in the frequency of epileptic seizures. Around half of children and young people with epilepsy who have tried some form of this diet saw the number of seizures drop by at least half, and the effect persists even after discontinuing the diet. Some evidence indicates that adults with epilepsy may benefit from the diet, and that a less strict regimen, such as a modified Atkins diet, is similarly effective. Potential side effects may include constipation, high cholesterol, growth slowing, acidosis, and kidney stones.
Ariel Warren is a Registered Dietitian, Diabetes Educator, graduate from Brigham Young, and was diagnosed with Type 1 at the age of 4 years old. Ariel understands diabetes and enjoys working with clients to improve their blood sugar management, healthy eating, weight loss, fitness, and pregnancy. For coaching from a T1D Dietitian, you can contact Ariel directly, through her website: arielwarren.com.
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“I started a low-carb, high-fat diet for myself in an attempt to treat my own health problems. Since then, I have seen significant health benefits not only in myself but also in many of my patients using a LCHF/ketogenic approach. Diet Doctor gives a simple but very effective evidence-based resource that I confidently recommend to all my patients. And the recipes are great!”
a) Why do I need to eat dietary fat during the keto diet if I have plenty of adipose tissue (as is currently the case) that can equally well be used as a source of energy? In your article you simply say that dietary fat is necessary for the keto diet to work, by I can’t see any explanation for that. Eating fat while I already have plenty of it available seems a bit counterintuitive.
Another concern for obese individuals is physical activity and sexual functioning. Relevantly, an increase in physical activity was observed during the intervention. This improvement agrees with the design of the nutritional intervention because the commercial weight-loss program (PNK method) includes lifestyle and behavioral modification support. All patients underwent a structured program of physical exercise with external supervision. According to these results, patients are encouraged to walk and to practice vigorous exercise.
However, this diet is gaining considerable attention as a potential weight-loss strategy due to the low-carb diet craze, which started in the 1970s with the Atkins diet (a very low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet, which was a commercial success and popularized low-carb diets to a new level). Today, other low-carb diets including the Paleo, South Beach, and Dukan diets are all high in protein but moderate in fat. In contrast, the ketogenic diet is distinctive for its exceptionally high-fat content, typically 70% to 80%, though with only a moderate intake of protein.
The average daily goal for keto is 20 grams of net carbs. Net carbs are the total carbs in a given serving of food, minus the carbohydrates that are supplied by fiber. You’ll find carb grams quickly add up, even when you’re choosing the best low-carb foods, like spinach and avocado. Keeping your body in a quasi-keto state can be hard on you, warns Santo: “This will leave you feeling sluggish, foggy, and discouraged,” he says. “It will most likely cause a weight plateau, and maybe even weight gain.” Here’s what it’s really like to be on a keto diet.