Jun 18, 2017,

Ketogenic diet is defined as a low-carbohydrate, moderate protein, high fat diet that is targeted at obese people who want to shed some weight. But how can one lose weight by adding more fat? The idea of ketogenic diet is one that explores the basic biochemical process of how food is broken down in our bodies to small molecules that gives us energy (metabolism).

When you take a high carbohydrate diet, the body converts the carbohydrate into small molecules called glucose. Glucose is the form of energy that the body can use. Excess glucose is then stored as glycogen and fats. However, when the body goes into a fasting state, the glucagon store is first depleted and glucose is also formed from other sources like protein. If the state of fasting persists, the body begins to convert fatty acids into ketones (3-hydroxybutyrate, acetone and acetoacetate) which are then released into the blood to be used as major source of energy for vital organs like the brain. Excess ketones are excreted in the urine.

Ketogenic (ketone forming) diets were originally used as a dietary treatment for people suffering from difficult-to-control epileptic fits. Further research then tapped into using keto diets to mimic a fasting state in the body. Now let’s look at some of the pros and cons of keto diets.


The Pros of Keto diet

Weight loss - Randomized trials and meta-analysis revealed some success with regards to weight loss over the period of study (maximum of 12months). This has now become the mainstay of its recommendation for weight loss.


Decreased appetite and weight maintenance – Taking a high fat, low carb diet helps to reduce the feeling of hunger because it fills you for a longer period. Fat is slowly digested so you don’t get hungry easily and hence can maintain your weight.

Cancer Treatment – there are on-going research on the use of keto diets to treat cancers especially brain cancers since it is well known that cancer cells, just like other normal body cells, feed on glucose.


The Cons of Keto diet

Fatigue and brain fog – the first few weeks of starting on this diet may be quite tough. The metabolic shift creates fatigue as your muscles and the brain craves for their usual energy source (glucose). It does get better after some time though.

Adherence – sticking to a keto diet can be quite tough since it excludes most of the staple food available, including a lot of fruits. You may also find it difficult to choose what to eat in public functions.

Micronutrient deficiency – people on keto diet may have deficiency of some micronutrients (like potassium, vitamin B&C) which are found in fruits and whole grains. It is therefore advised that they take multivitamin supplementation.

Constipation and ketotic breath – this also tends to happen in the first few weeks of commencing a keto diet but it gets better as you find more low carb vegetables high in fiber. You can easily identify with the ketotic breath when you do a prolonged fasting.

Ketoacidosis – the ketones that are formed in the blood are acidic in nature and when they build up, they can the lower the blood pH and result in a state of acidosis. This isn’t usually a major concern unless you are diabetic in which case the ketone levels can get so high that it causes a coma.

In conclusion, while keto diet may be recommended for some people, it is not for everybody. You should do your research well and determine if you want to try other weight loss options.


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