by Charles Weller January 12, 2018
Low carb diets, otherwise referred to as ketogenic diets, have been a topic of controversy for decades. In a review that was published back in 2014, research on weight loss strategies rated low-fat diets as one of the most studied tactics and measures were taken by most organizations globally. The study was conducted in a bid to prove that as a nutritional approach, the ketogenic diet has a solid physiological and biochemical basis and show how effectively it induce significant weight loss and contribute to some significant improvements in some cardiovascular risk parameters. Initially, it was demonized by a couple of health experts and the media. Most people were of the thought that it was likely to raise the levels of cholesterol and lead to heart disease considering the high-fat content it’s associated with. However, with years of scientific research, findings have revealed clearly that a ketogenic diet is of greater benefit than harm to the body. Not only does it promote weight loss, it has also contributed greatly to risk factors such as cholesterol.
This is a diet plan insists on cutting back on carbohydrates to a significant percentage or getting rid of it completely from the diet. Back in the 1920s, the low-carb diet was designed mainly for epileptic patients. Apparently, researchers found that fasting could help reduce the amount and frequency of seizures suffered by their patients. It also seemed to have other positive effects on hunger levels, body fat, blood sugar, and cholesterol. However, long-term fasting does not exactly seem like a feasible option especially when it has to last longer than just a few days. This is why a more reliable divisive diet plan was designed to be an alternative, thus the ketogenic diet. It was developed to mimic the beneficial effects that come with fasting. The varieties of food that can commonly be defined by a ketogenic diet are healthier fats like healthy proteins, non-starchy unprocessed plant foods, nuts and olive oil. Essentially, the keto diet is designed to trick your body into believing that you’re fasting through the strict elimination of simple sugars like glucose, which are the building blocks in carbohydrate foods. A ketogenic diet puts the body into a state of ketosis, a metabolic state that occurs when most of that energy used by the body is drawn from ketone bodies, not from glucose but from the blood. The body ends up burning fats for energy, leading to rapid loss of excess body fat.
There is a limit to the number of carbs you can eat and still remain in ketosis. As at the inception of the study for a low-carb diet, the epileptic patients had a special one that provided them with 75% of calories from non-carb sources of fat like fattier cuts of meat and oils, 20% of calories from protein and 5% of calories from carbohydrates. A modified ketogenic diet is less strict but still promotes weight loss safely and often in a fat way too. Cutting down on the calories from carbohydrates to at least 5% is not really appropriate for several people but this doesn’t completely rule out a low-carb diet. It should be duly noted that for children and those on medication or existing health conditions (such as high blood pressure) on this diet plan, there should be closer observation. Adults who are relatively healthy can better be safe by following a very low carb diet with very minimal or no supervision at all. This is conditional provided they are on the lookout for red lights such as negative reactions including too much fatigue or brain fog lasting more than a week or so.
Just as is with several low-carb diets, a ketogenic diet works by eliminating glucose. Your body runs on the simple sugar, glucose. As aforementioned, glucose is the primary source of energy. It is usually stored in the liver and muscle tissue and once exhausted, the body begins to utilize stored fat or fats from food sources and burns these down to generate energy. What a low-carb diet does is eliminate the glucose which in turn causes the body to burn the excess fats even faster. The process that facilitates this burning process does more than just help you shed some extra pounds. It also controls the release of hormones such as insulin that is a significant secretion that plays a major role in the development of diabetes and other health complications. Insulin is released as a reaction to an increase in blood sugar level, or elevated blood glucose whenever we eat carbohydrates. It is a storage hormone that stimulates cells to store as much energy as can be produced at first as glycogen, then afterward as body fat. A ketogenic diet will eliminate carbohydrates from the diet and keep the body’s carbohydrate storage units almost empty. This prevents excess insulin release after consumption of food, therefore, reversing an underlying problem called insulin resistance that contributes to type 2 diabetes.
For a longer lasting period of weight loss, a modified ketogenic diet is more reliable as it is less strict than one where you exclusively have to choose on very little or no carbs in your diet. A ketogenic diet is quite difficult to take on and considering the many restrictions it comes with, many people are likely to do away with it. The claim for this is that it is not friendly to everyone and as a matter of fact you are missing out on all your cravings, those carbs you used to like and enjoy so much. The temptation is way too strong and irresistible and in the long run, you just give in and go back to your old eating habits. Well, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. A majority of adults may not really reap the benefits of a diet that contains 20% protein and 75% fat. The success comes in mostly with a moderate approach to a low carb diet. This simply focusses on increasing calories drawn from healthy proteins and fats while eliminating carbohydrates. All you may need to reduce with the modified ketogenic diet is to a limit of 30% carbohydrates calorie intake but increase the fat intake to 40% and protein to 30%. This way, you will be able to cut down on carbs and at the same time, you still get to pick your favorite munchies-but wisely.
Ketogenic diets come with a set of proven health benefits. They may not exactly work in your favor but once you learn to control your cravings, the rest of it is much easier. When all is said and done, it still remains a better, more feasible option as compared to total starvation. The diet in itself is a perfect recipe for better health.