Eggs, avocados, cheeses, meats, wrapping your meat with meat, butter in your coffee, no fruits, no breads, no sweets. This sounds like an insane diet that would make you gain weight, but its a diet that I have been on that has made me shed the weight instead. If you’re like me and enjoy fatty foods, then the Ketogenic diet might be your new best friend. But, it’s important to understand the basics before you form a relationship with it.
The Keto diet is not a new nutritional regime. While it has gained popularity in the recent years, this diet is simply a version of other low-carbohydrate diets that rotate every one to two decades.
“It’s not the first time we see this,” said Rena Mendelson, a nutrition professor at Ryerson University. “The Stillman diet goes back to the 1950s. After that came the Atkins diet that arrived 20 years later and after that came the Ketogenic diet. It’s not new, the basic premise has been around.”
The diet was first initiated in the 1920s to cure epilepsy before there were any medications to avoid seizures. The Mayo Clinic in Minnesota recognized that when some epilepsy patients followed a low carbohydrate diet, it resulted in low blood sugar levels that reduced the chances of seizures.
Mendelson said that people enjoy diets because they like to see what they can and cannot eat strictly. It gives them a sense that what they are doing is right and narrows down the ability to eat freely.
The Keto Flu and the science behind the diet
There is no research to indicate the long-term side effects of the Keto diet, but many acknowledge the Keto flu to be one of the short-term effects. The flu occurs at the very beginning of the diet when the drastic reduction of carbohydrates results in withdrawal-like symptoms. They may include, nausea, headaches, weaknesses, and sugar cravings. Although this may sound scary, there are ways to prevent it: drinking lots of water, getting adequate sleep, and avoiding strenuous exercise. It only lasts up to a week for some people and, once it’s over, the diet no longer becomes difficult.
According to Mendelson, fruits, vegetables and grains contain important nutrients that are essential to a healthy diet. They are not easily found in other foods.
She also said that the Keto diet costs a lot to maintain, both financially and environmentally. The use of fruits and vegetables is a more ecological way of using our environment; if we only rely on animal products, we are putting stress on the environment.
Mahmoud Noureldin, a PhD biology student at the University of Toronto, said many are confused by what the diet does to our bodies. Ketosis is not a process, it’s a condition where you have high levels of ketones in the blood.
“Under normal conditions, our body’s primary source of energy is glucose, which can be stored as glycogen to be used when needed,” said Noureldin. “However, under low levels of glucose and glycogen in conditions such as fasting, our body uses fatty acids as an alternative form of energy. Same idea occurs with the Ketogenic diet, fatty acids turn into ketone bodies, which are then used as a source of energy.”
He also said that there are different degrees to ketosis and there are several ways of getting there. An increase in ketones in the blood can come not only from the Ketogenic diet, but also as a result of prolonged exercise, pregnancy, or fasting. Some increases are not so healthy because severely high levels of ketone bodies result in acidity.
Noureldin has also adopted the ketogenic diet into his own lifestyle.
“It’s been really good. It has helped me lose weight by cutting down fat and reaching the physical appearance that I want,” he said.
According to Noureldin, in order to do this, one has to stick to being under the calorie intake, but if you’re above there is no diet in the world that will help you lose weight.
Bloggers, exercise fanatics, health-conscious individuals and many more have changed their lifestyle to become Keto friendly. As someone who has been on the diet for nearly a month, I have seen great results. It is not easy at first — the Keto flu is real — but it does get better and it does make you feel better. I don’t believe that it could be a long-term diet just because it is difficult to maintain, but it’s definitely one that will help you get in shape fast and effectively.