Trina Palomarez, CNS
The Ketogenic Diet Part 1- What's It All About?
This is a two part series on the Ketogenic diet. Discover more about this popular diet, its pros and cons and gain useful information that can help you determine if it’s the right choice for you!
In the world of diets, trends come and go. There’s low calorie dieting, low carb dieting, high protein diets, master cleanses, grapefruit diets and more! It can seem like the vast array of dieting options are endless and just as difficult to determine if any of them work or are a legitimate options for weight loss.
If you’re up on dietary trends then you may have heard of the ketogenic diet. It is currently in the dietary spotlight and there are endless books, websites, magazine articles and podcasts all about the amazing benefits of the ketogenic diet. If you’re wondering what is and what all the fuss is about then this article is for you! Let me give you the rundown on the ketogenic diet, what it is, what it does (and doesn’t do) and who it’s best suited for.
What Is It?
The ketogenic diet is what I would call a specialized diet, meaning that it requires following a specific set of parameters around food. Specialized diets almost always require omitting one, a few or many foods from the diet in order to create the desired effect and therefore, by their basic nature, are not ideal for everyone. In a nutshell, the ketogenic diet involves eating a large amount of fat and a low amount of carbohydrates. It is touted as being the end all of diets for just about everything from weight loss, to lower inflammation and a potential cure for chronic diseases. But is it really all that and more importantly, is it right for you?
The ketogenic diet as we know it, was first utilized as a treatment for uncontrolled pediatric epilepsy in the early 1900’s. Children were put on a very high fat, low carbohydrate diet and were medically monitored throughout the process. Children on the ketogenic diet had a decrease in overall seizure activity. This is a pretty amazing result considering the fact that many of the treatments options available for epilepsy, both then and now, have some really horrible side effects. Having a treatment option that did not involve medication and was dietary oriented caught the eye of many in medical community.
In recent years, the Ketogenic diet has enjoyed a rebirth in popularity. In the mid 1990’s Hollywood producer Jim Abrams successfully utilized the ketogenic diet for his son with epilepsy and created the Charlie Foundation to promote it. The foundation sponsored a multicentre research study, and the positive results marked the beginning of renewed scientific and social interest in the diet. Fast forward to today, the ketogenic diet is in the lime light as the newest fad diet. The diet clearly has benefits for eplilepsy, but what about weight loss and inflammation?
How Does It Work?
In order to understand the basics behind the ketogenic diet we need to do a little review of basic nutrition. The body’s primary fuel source is glucose. It’s what is broken down primarily from carbohydrates to fuel the body for basic energy needs and function. Most of use consume a lot of carbohydrate based foods, a moderate amount of protein foods, and a smaller ratio of fats in order to sustain the body and meet basic nutrient requirements. In a ketogenic diet, the dieter eats a very high amount of fat per day, around 100 grams or more, and a very low amount of carbohydrate per day, around 20-25 grams or less. This dramatic shift in macronutrient ratios causes the body to produce ketones, which are then used as the primary source of fuel for the body, in place of glucose.
Basically by switching the fuel source for the body, from glucose to fat, we change the way the body operates and processes energy. This shift can create some pretty dramatic changes in the body that can include weight loss, an easier time burning body fat, decreased inflammation, increased cognitive function and for some, increased energy. Sounds like a miracle, right?
Well for the right person, I do feel like the ketogenic diet can be a miracle, especially for those who have a difficult time burning fat and for those who disease states are associated with severe inflammation such as type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s and perhaps certain types of cancers. That being said, I do not believe that any specialized diet is right for everyone and there may be a few aspects about the diet that make it challenging for even the most dedicated of health enthusiasts.
Check out the next blog post in this series, Ketogenic Diet- Is Right for Me and learn more details about the diet and if it’s a good fit for your health needs.