Ketogenic diet - pros and cons

foods and food pyramid for ketogenic diet

Ask doctors and nutritionists about their views on the ketogenic diet, and you'll hear a range of opinions. Some answers will be based on personal experience, others based on scientific evidence.

Ask the same question to a diabetic, and again the opinion will be different.

The reason for this controversy is that the ketogenic diet works for some people and not for others. In addition, it has many restrictions that can lead to additional problems. Such a problem may be, for example, an increase in cholesterol that violates the diet.

What is a ketogenic diet?

Ketogenic diet is a special diet based on carbohydrate restriction to 50 g per day and increased fat content. The idea is to create a metabolic state of ketosis so that fat can be used for energy instead of carbohydrates.

This diet has been used since the 1920s in the treatment of diseases such as epilepsy. Nowadays, it is used for weight loss, diabetes and dementia, cancer and acne. In addition, it is known that athletes use it to improve the quality of exercise performance and to lose fat.

Doctors know that the ketogenic diet can help you lose weight, and if it's done medically correctly, it really can help.

However, when people begin to limit their vegetable intake or engage in other dietary deviations, the diet can also be harmful.

There are several options for the ketogenic diet. Some of them recommend consuming 30 grams or less of carbohydrates per day and lean more on fatty foods and proteins.

The standard ketogenic diet is quite different. He recommends consuming 25-50 grams of carbohydrates per day. People who follow it get 60-70% of their calories from fat, 20-30% from protein and 5-10% from carbohydrates. Those who ate 1800 calories a day consumed 140 g of fat, 90 g of protein and 45 g of carbohydrates per day.

As you understand, it is almost impossible to know your own ketogenic diet. For a diet to be effective and safe, it must be started and completed, and generally followed, under expert supervision.

Ketosis vs Ketoacidosis

Before starting a ketogenic diet, people with diabetes need to understand the difference between ketoacidosis and ketosis.

Ketoacidosis is a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when blood sugar rises to dangerous levels. In ketoacidosis, the body begins to break down fat for energy, resulting in the formation of ketones.

When too many ketones accumulate in the blood, the blood becomes too oxidized. This condition occurs in people with type 1 diabetes because their bodies do not produce insulin at all.

Unlike ketoacidosis, ketosis means your body uses fat for fuel. This can cause ketones to reach maximum levels without changing blood acidity.

It is believed that during ketosis, the body can receive energy from ketones in the same way as from glucose.

So what does all this mean for diabetics? If everything is done correctly and under the supervision of experts, then the diet will be safe and healthy. True, if a person has kidney or heart disease, then it may not be worth starting. Either way, you should see a doctor.

Research

The ketogenic diet has been the subject of many studies that have proven its effectiveness and safety in the long term. Very low carb and ketogenic diets with less than 50g of carbs per day have been shown to have some benefits, but they should not be followed for more than 3-4 months, as the diet can harm the body in the longer term.

Most research has focused exclusively on short-term diets. So, once a study was conducted on the ketogenic diet. The experiment involved 262 people. The study lasted for 10 weeks. Subjects received three, five, or ten servings of vegetables, a moderate amount of protein, and completely edible fat. At the end of the study, patients were able to stop taking at least one diabetes medication, they experienced a decrease in glycated hemoglobin, and a 20% decrease in triglycerides. During the study, the project participants were constantly consulted by nutritionists. The experiment took place under the supervision of a therapist. Patients measure their blood sugar levels daily. This is necessary to adjust the treatment with drugs if necessary. The participants shared their experiences in managing their diabetes and diet.

Studies have shown that eating less than 50 grams of carbohydrates per day can actually help you lose weight and lower diastolic blood pressure. In addition, those who followed the ketogenic diet had increased levels of good cholesterol and decreased levels of bad.

A low-carb ketogenic diet has also been shown to increase glycated hemoglobin and reduce triglycerides, which can lead to heart disease. True, the level of total cholesterol remains the same.

If you're thinking about starting a ketogenic diet, take your time. If you are used to eating 200 grams or more of carbohydrates per day, going to 40 grams or less without preparation is almost impossible. Fat instead of glucose will not be used by the body for a long time, so you will experience damage and deterioration in well-being. For diabetics, such experiments are generally dangerous, especially if they are taking medication prescribed by a doctor.

The safest way to start a diet is to first consult with your doctor or nutritionist to make sure the diet is right for you.

Nutritionists and doctors say that health and longevity depend on the type of fat you eat. Because research shows that a low-carb or ketogenic diet raises bad cholesterol levels, it's important to limit your intake of saturated fat—processed meat, cheese, butter, and cream. It is better to eat unsaturated fats - vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, avocados. Also, try to eat as many vegetables as possible. Some experts advise following a vegetarian ketogenic diet, but this is not required.

Sometimes nutritionists give patients a table that shows the vitamin and mineral content of food. For example, if you do not eat vegetables and foods rich in calcium, then health problems will not make you wait.

Risk

A ketogenic diet can cause hypoglycemia, a sudden drop in blood sugar levels. This situation can also occur if the patient violates the medication regimen.

There is another difficulty. Since a person has to start eating differently from others, he starts to avoid society, therefore he feels socially isolated. It is important to understand dietary restrictions and prepare for them.

If you follow a ketogenic diet with a lot of protein, it can negatively affect the kidneys. For those with kidney disease, this diet is not suitable.

If the diet includes a high intake of saturated fat - butter, cream, processed meat, high-fat cheese - and does not contain enough plant foods, an increase in the level of bad cholesterol in the blood can occur. This can cause constipation and lead to heart disease.

Lean turkey, chicken, fish, and healthy fats in the form of vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds are recommended during the ketogenic diet. In addition, you should eat at least three to five servings of non-starchy vegetables each day to ensure that you get the necessary amount of vitamins and minerals.

After achieving the desired result - losing weight or improving well-being - the diet is usually stopped. It is possible to return to it now in a few months.