The Ketogenic Diet: A Nutritionists Opinion

This post has been a long time coming! I’ve thought about writing it for a while now but recently have had even more clients/friends asking for my opinion. Here it goes!

What is the ketogenic diet?

The ketogenic diet is not as new as you might think. As early as the 1920’s Doctors started prescribing a ketogenic diet to their patients who had epilepsy. It was meant to replace long-term fasting which had also been used to help patients with epilepsy control their seizures.

The Ketogenic Diet was named when doctors noted that three water soluble compounds were produced by the liver when a patient was fasting or following a high fat/low carb diet. These water soluble compounds were acetone, β-hydroxybutyrate and acetoacetate, also known as ketones.  Patients that ate a diet that was comprised of over 65% fat, or higher, would enter the state of ketosis.

In recent years the ketogenic diet has become more mainstream and is being used to treat autoimmune diseases and Type 2 Diabetes as well as being recommended as a weight loss solution.

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Keto and Type 2 Diabetes 

Much like most diets, I do believe there is a place for the ketogenic diet. Dr. Jason Fung, is a world leading Nephrologist based out of Toronto. He has become widely recognized in the medical community for treating Type 2 Diabetes with a low carb or ketogenic diet and believes that type 2 diabetes can be completely reversed. He has had a lot of success with his patients and has written three books about his beliefs and the science behind them.

It is very important to note that he works with his patients as they begin this diet, this isn’t something that someone with Type 2 Diabetes should be trying on their own as it will cause drops in blood sugar and will require changes to the amount of insulin that the body needs.

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Keto and Autoimmune Disease

As someone who has an autoimmune disease, I have experimented with the ketogenic diet. The ketogenic diet is very limiting and as such eliminates most of the major food allergies/intolerances that people with autoimmune disease struggle with.

There is research being conducted in this area and thus far the ketogenic diet has proven to lower inflammation in the body as it causes the body to switch fuel sources from sugar to fat. It has been well established that sugar can raise inflammatory markers in the body and that limiting it is beneficial to our health. The tricky part here, is that staying in a state of ketosis means you have to limit all sugars, including natural ones. This eliminates many fruits and vegetables from the list of foods that are ok to eat while on a ketogenic diet. This could lower the amount of micronutrients being taken into the body if the dieter is not careful.

Keto and Weight Loss

Here’s the one you’ve been waiting for, you may have even scrolled down to get here! Does the ketogenic diet cause weight loss? The short answer, yes. When the body becomes efficient at using fat as fuel it can then begin to burn excess body fat, resulting in weight loss. Guess what? Starvation does the same thing, but it doesn’t make it heathy for you.

When it comes to weight loss people will often try things they would never have tried for any other reason. Once the desired weight is lost it is too easy to return to old habits, going from a low carb diet to a high carb diet can be very detrimental to the body. Before you try a new diet specifically for weight loss consult your doctor and ask yourself these questions:

  1. Will this diet be sustainable long term?
  2. Will this diet be flexible enough for my lifestyle?
  3. Will this diet have a positive affect on my mental health?

If you can’t answer yes to all three questions, this is NOT a sustainable weight loss solution for you.

Keto does not always equal healthy. Bacon, steak and coconut oil do not contain all the nutrients your body needs to function optimally. With the help of a doctor/health professional you can develop a healthy diet that is also keto.

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Final Thoughts

Like anything, there is a wrong and right away to approach the keto diet. Many people do not know what foods they need to eat to stay healthy on a keto diet and end up missing out on some key nutrients. For most people this is not a sustainable diet and I would not recommend it. For those dealing with autoimmune issues and type 2 diabetes this may be worth considering and talking to your doctor about.

In my personal life I have found the keto diet to be useful in keeping my autoimmune related inflammation down but I do not do it for longer than 4 weeks at a time and only when I feel my body needs extra help. Overall I have found a more paleo based diet to be a sustainable way of living for myself!

Each of my clients is treated as an individual and I am open to many different ways of eating for the different people I encounter. What works for you may not work for your neighbor. Stop trying to fit yourself in a box jus because someone else fit perfectly. You are unique and your diet should be unique to you!

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