“Nky, have you heard of the ketogenic diet? What is it? Is it right for me”? I have been getting a lot of questions from people recently about the ketogenic diet so I decided to write about it today.
My aim is to provide you with the information you need so you can make an informed choice.
What is the Ketogenic diet?
The ketogenic diet is a diet that consists of eating 75% fat, 5% carbohydrate and 20% protein.
Origin of the ketogenic diet
This diet was developed in 1920 for the treatment of epilepsy in children. It was discarded in 1930 when more effective drugs that could manage epilepsy were discovered.
The diet made another appearance in 1994 after it was used to control the epilepsy of Charlie Abrahams, the son of Jim Abrahams, a Hollywood producer.
What really happens on the ketogenic diet?
When you start the ketogenic diet, your intake of carbohydrate is severely restricted. You are allowed 5- 10 % carbs in a day. Your body uses carbs as a source of energy for its daily functions. However, when carbs is restricted your body will be forced to look for another source of energy within. Of course it will notice the fat store all over your body. It will attack the fat and start burning it as a primary source of fuel for the energy it needs. This fuel that comes from the metabolic breakdown of fat is called ketones. The body is then said to be in ketosis and this may result in weight loss.
Simply put, the ketogenic diet forces your body to burn the fat in your body for energy instead of carbohydrates. Your body has grown used to you providing it with carbs sometimes in excess of its needs, so when you restricts it, your body starts burning anything it can lay its hand on as fuel , that includes your fat stores which you want to burn and your muscle which you do not and should not burn.
If you are familiar with Dr. Atkins diet or LCHF (low carb high fat) diet then this may not be the first time you may have heard of ketogenic or ketosis. Dr. Atkins discussed this diet briefly and called it the fat fast. Both diets follow the same pattern of leading the body into ketosis and weight loss through restricting carbs, and eating protein or fat generously. Dr. Atkins recommended the fat fast for people who cannot lose weight easily as he calls it “dangerous”. It is a last desperate measure for people who cannot lose weight on any other program.
During the ketogenic diet, you are expected to completely abstain from certain foods.
Here are some of the foods you are expected to avoid in the ketogenic diet:
All types of beans
Pasta- Spaghetti, Macaroni
All types of processed food, drinks
Foods you can eat on the ketogenic diet:
Strawberry and the berry family
Side effects of Ketogenic diet
- Digestive discomfort
One of the major complaints of people who go on this diet is constipation. For some of them, bowel movement is a non-event.
This is because the Ketogenic diet is lacking in fiber. If you are on this diet, you are expected to take fiber supplement to help unclog your system. You should be suspicious of any diet that disrupts your digestive system.
- Muscle breakdown
In our post on getting a toned body we talked about muscle being the foundation for tighter, peskier body. However, during ketosis the body has to recruit other source of energy for it to function properly. The fat in your body and your muscle is fair game. If you follow this program you may see flabbier body.
- Nutrient deficiency
The ketogenic diet is highly restrictive. A lot of food is forbidden on this diet and there is a danger of not getting the nutrients your body needs from these foods.
For you to follow this diet, you are expected to take supplement to make up for this deficiency. Some of the supplements you are expected to take include Vitamins C and vitamin B complex, Magnesium supplement, Potassium supplement, Multivitamin etc.
- Safety concerns.
The ketogenic diet was prepared with epileptic children as the main users. Children on this diet were monitored by trained medical personnel to make sure they did not suffer any negative side effects. When such effects are detected it is promptly taken care of by discontinuing the therapy or using appropriate measure to take care of it. Going on this diet without medical advice or without finding out your health status could be potentially dangerous.
- Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers are not allowed to use the ketogenic diet because of the restrictive nature. It will deny the mother and child the nutrients they need and this may lead to poor growth
- Possibility of weight gain
A number of expert studies have shown that people who go on extreme and highly restrictive weight loss diet gain back the weight they lost (and some) within 0ne year.
- Bad breath and smelly urine
This is caused by the excretion of the byproducts of breakdown of fats in your body. You can chew sugar free mint gum for the bad breath. As for the fruity smelly urine, you have to bear with it.
Adverse effects of ketogenic diet include:
Poor growth in children
Sample ketogenic 2 day meal plan
|Scrambled eggs with Avocado pear||Chicken fried with butter.||Cow intestines cooked with coconut milk||Chicken soup or oxtail soup with cream|
|Palm nut stew with shredded fish or grilled fresh fish||Pork stir fry with salad||Cow head (Nkwobi) porridge. Avocado||Sugar free full fat yogurt with nuts|
Should you be on this diet?
That is a choice you have to make
What I think?
The ketogenic diet is not something anyone should use for long term. I do not recommend it because it is restrictive and lacks important vitamins and mineral.
When you are told a method or diet does not have any side effects, how do you know it applies to you? Who conducted such tests and on whom, and for how long. What was their health status?
I am not a fan of dieting. Every time you go on a diet, you are gradually starving yourself of a class of nutrients or ingesting what your body does not need. You must learn to love yourself and make a commitment to take care of your body the right way.
Have you ever wondered why all this diets keep popping out?
Other iets include;
- Grapefruit diet
- Lemon cleanse
- Tapeworm diet
- Hormone diet
- New beverly hill diet
- Skinny bitch diet
- The Caveman diet
- Weight watchers diet
- The zone diet
- South beach diet
- Cabbage soup diet and lots more
If they were truly effective and healthy, we will not need 60 different shades of diet, we will have just a few diets that anyone can chose from and see results in a healthy and balanced way.
More long term studies are still needed for this diet. The fact that the studies are still ongoing does not mean it is great and the answer to everyone. I am not recommending this or any diet.
The best diet is the diet you can follow without the probability of developing an illness. The best diet for you is the one that will make you happy and you will see results. You will not feel constipated, weak, and bored of the food choices you have.
Sometimes losing weight can make you desperate. I have worked with clients on different levels of weight loss desperation. They have lost weight and some are still on their weight loss journey. One thing they all have in common is learning about healthy food, eating right and portion control. With that information they make the right decision wherever they are.
Like every other thing in life, ask yourself;
Can I use this diet for 2-10 years?
Will I sustain the weight I lost, if I discontinue the diet?
Can I still exercise on this plan?
Am I happy?
Is the chance that i may develop adverse reactions worth the benefit of short term weight loss?
Are there healthier alternatives?
These are questions that you alone have answers to.
- Love your body
- Have friends who want to lose weight the healthy way
- Get a personal trainer and a nutrition coach to help you
- learn about healthy food choices,
- feed your body right,
- learn portion control,
- exercise according to your goals and
- weight loss will follow
Visit Bellisima fitness gym for a personalized workout and nutrition program prepared just for you.
Leave your comments and questions below
Best, et al., 2000: “Cardiac complications in pediatric patients on the ketogenic diet”
Mady, et al., 2003: “The Ketogenic Diet: Adolescents Can Do It, Too”
Sampath, et al., 2007: “Kidney stones and the ketogenic diet: Risk factors and prevention”