Keto Diet- a boon or a bane

The ketogenic diet is a systemized eating pattern that has a high concentration of fat, moderate amount of protein and very less carbohydrate. On this diet, a person doesn't eat more than 50 gm of carbs in a day but consumes triple the amount of fat than what is normally recommended. The body initially uses both carbohydrates and fat for energy. But with a sharp reduction of glucose in the body, it eventually starts burning the stored fat for energy, through a metabolic process called ketosis. As part of this process, our body breaks down fat into ketone bodies, to be used as fuel.

In the absence of carbohydrates, ketones are accepted as a source of energy by most of the cells in our body. The burnt fat normally comes from the adipose tissue, leading to weight loss. The most commonly practised Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD)contains 75% fat, 20% protein and a mere 5 % carbohydrate. Striking off carbs by such a huge margin from your diet would mean that you stay away from bread, rice, pasta, potatoes etc. You would have to replace the carbs with high fat items such as meat, nuts, butter, oil, cheese, eggs, avocados. 


As opposed to OneFitplus philosophy which focuses on consuming a balanced diet of all macro and micronutrients, keto followers have to draw the majority of their calories from fat alone. The diet coaches at OneFitplus believe that carbohydrates, fats and protein in addition to the essential micronutrients are the building blocks of good health and they should be consumed in a balanced way every day.  However, Keto is an immensely restrictive diet that needs to be strictly followed for benefits to appear. The safety and long term viability of ketogenic diet is also not clear. 


The Background


The ketogenic diet was developed in 1921 by Dr. Russel Wilder, MD of the Mayo Clinic, in order to treat children suffering from epilepsy. It was observed that children as well as adults who fasted and had a combination of low carb but high fat diet had reduced incidences of seizure. Over the course of coming decades, antiepileptic drugs were discovered and the keto diet was all but forgotten. It experienced a resurgence in the late 1990s with people trying to utilise it as a potential weight loss weapon in addition to the health benefit. Lured by the diet’s purported claim of a slimmer waistline in a short span of time, it has become a trendy fad over the past few years.

The Science behind Keto

We rely on a steady supply of glucose, received through carbs, for energy. The body stores extra carbs into molecules called glycogen, which come handy when we go long without having a meal. In the absence of these reserves due to low intake of glucose, the body resorts to another fuel source called ketones. Restricting your carbohydrate intake and instead consuming fats will put your body in a state of fast when it will burn fat tissue for fuel in the form of fatty acids. Ketone bodies, to be now used as fuel, are the water-soluble molecules that are produced by the liver from fatty acids during periods of low food intake or carbohydrate restricted diets. The diehard keto followers believe that this process of ketosis has impressive benefits for our health and weight. 

Is it feasible

In the short-term, keto diet does seem to cause weight loss but there is little conclusive evidence to show whether the positive effects continue in the long term. Like commonly seen, restrictive diet programs can lead to weight loss in the beginning but the dieters easily gain all the lost weight back, once this regime is stopped. Keto or any other low carb diet, followed over a long period of time, can give rise to serious health issues. With carb restriction, one has to cut out many of the good and healthy foods as well such as legumes, whole grains and fruits. And with just fat remaining an option to fuel up, the followers end up consuming a lot of saturated items such as butter, cheese, coconut oil, palm oil, lard and mayonnaise as well. An unbalanced combination like this does not augur well for our health and would show up as medical complications. Besides, the severe dietary restrictions can impact a person’s social life as well. Hundreds of testimonials from followers attest to the non-sustainable format of this diet regime. 

Is it safe

Since one has to consume a high amount of saturated fat and cholesterol under the keto diet, it can create cardio vascular complications. Saturated fat and trans fat can raise the level of triglycerides and LDL cholesterol in your blood, causing a build-up of plaque in your arteries. According to the American College of Cardiology, low carb diets caused an increased risk of atrial fibrillation under which heart starts beating irregularly and the risk of stroke and heart attack goes up several times.

Severely avoiding carbohydrates can make our diet less diverse and make us nutritionally deficient. Studies have shown that people on Ketogenic diet have a lack of vital nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D, B vitamins, phosphorus and magnesium. These vitamins are important for a good immune system, energy metabolism, nervous system, healthy hair and skin. Many high carb but fibrous and starchy foods such as beans, rice, bananas and sweet potatoes are not allowed in the keto diet and that tends to interfere with digestion and gut health. 

The high-fat keto diet, that leads to an increase in circulating fats, can also cause acute pancreatitis. Besides, a high fat diet may aggravate the condition of those suffering from gall bladder issues or have had the organ removed. Such people will have trouble digesting all the fat and would experience weight gain and bloating.  Also during exercise, our physical performance can hugely be impacted on a low carb diet. The body would struggle to fuel up while trying to break down fat. Workouts may then make you feel sluggish and low on energy. Some reports also suggest that a high fat diet, especially consisting of saturated fats, cause inflammation and may lead to Alzheimer’s disease.

The quick result aspect of keto diet may seem appealing to weight loss aspirants but it would be advisable that they consider all the short and long term aspects before taking up this path.  Keeping in mind the side effects, those taking up this diet should always consult a qualified doctor or nutritionist. At OneFitplus, we always recommend having a healthy balance in our meals. We maintain that taking away entire food groups from the diet can never be a sustainable weight loss program.

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