The Ketogenic Diet in Abingdon, VA
Diet trends seem to change as often as skirt lengths. And like skirt lengths, not every diet works on every body.
The ketogenic diet has been touted as the fastest way to lose weight in a month. While the claim is true for some people, no one diet can promise any one outcome for every age, body type, genetic code, general health, and environmental circumstance.
What started as a medical intervention for epilepsy has become a weight-loss obsession. That should make you take pause and do some research before jumping on the keto bandwagon.
According to Harvard Medical School research, the keto diet can provide faster weight loss than low-fat diets do - but that weight loss difference disappears over time. Replacing carbohydrate intake with fat is not safe, desirable, or even possible for everyone who wants to try it.
And because most people can't eat this way for very long, researchers don't know much about the long-term effects of keto dieting. They do know that extreme "yo-yo diets" have been associated with increased mortality.
Science has proven that staying healthy in the long run takes eating a balanced, unprocessed diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables, lean meats, fish, whole grains, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and lots of water. Other diets should be short term and professionally monitored.
To consult with a nutritionist in Abingdon to determine which diet is right for your age, body type, gender, genetic code, metabolism, and environmental conditions call (423) 301-6964 or contact Tri-Cities Functional Medicine online.
What does the keto diet do?
In a nutshell: the keto diet releases ketones into your bloodstream. Glucose (blood sugar) is produced from the carbohydrates you eat. Your cells prefer to fuel your body with that blood sugar, but when it disappears, they resort to breaking down liver-stored fat instead.
After two to four days of eating fewer than 20 to 50 grams of carbohydrates per day, your fat may get broken down into molecules called ketone bodies, and you may find yourself in ketosis. May. Like all others metabolic processes, ketosis is highly individualized and unpredictable - some people need an even more restrictive diet to achieve it.
You may wonder how much fat you should be eating, or how much is too much protein. What happens to excess protein in the body is that it gets turned into fat, but what is "excess" differs from person to person.
The standard keto diet (SKD) prescribes strict adherence to the following calorie breakdown:
- 5-10% of your total calories should come from carbohydrates
- 60-80% of your calories should come from healthy fats
- 20% of your calories should be consumed as protein
The fact that practitioners adjust this to a dieter's health needs with incrementally higher carb allowances - cyclical keto diet (CKD), targeted keto diet (TKD), medium chain triglycerides (MCT), high-protein keto diet, and intermittent fasting - demonstrates that it's not for everyone.
Why it's not for everyone
Research shows that men of all ages tend to perform better in ketosis than women over 40. That's because men are more sensitive to insulin. One study of men on the keto diet found that about 70% of their fat loss was due to a decrease in insulin levels.1
Before starting a keto diet, women should have their hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal-thyroid-gonadal (HPATG) axis tested. Its dysfunction can cause women to:
- produce too much cortisol
- develop abnormal thyroid function
- develop menstrual irregularities
- suffer mental irregularities (common in 45% of women who go on keto)
Men or women with insulin or blood sugar conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure may endanger their biochemical balance by going on this diet.
Preventing potential risks and side effects
Even if it's working splendidly for weight loss, nobody should stay on the keto diet for longer than 6-12 weeks. Before, during, and after, a dieter should take blood tests to measure:
- fasting glucose and hemoglobin A1C to determine your blood sugar levels
- C-reactive protein, homocysteine to detect inflammation
- thyroid function
- cortisol, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone
- minerals like sodium, potassium, magnesium, copper, zinc, selenium
A urine test can also test for sex hormones like cortisol and estrogen and organic acids. Stop the keto diet if your blood and urine tests indicate:
- increased fat mass
- high inflammation
- unbalanced hormone levels
- elevated blood sugar levels
- abnormal electrolytes
Ketosis-induced symptoms may include:
- keto flu: lethargy, fatigue, and vomiting
- nutritional deficiency: excluding certain foods from your diet can deplete your body of nutrients like fiber, vitamins, and minerals
- dizziness and fatigue: can be caused by a lack of potassium, magnesium, and sodium
- nausea: your gut flora will need time to readjust
- diarrhea: this may be due to a lack of fiber from this new diet
- frequent urination: burning glucose releases a lot of water, and you'll be excreting excess sodium as your insulin levels drop
- kidney problems: increased urination can cause a loss of electrolytes and dehydration, increasing your risk of kidney injuries and kidney stones
- heart disease: the high-fat diet may increase your risk of cardiac conditions
- reduced physical performance: may be caused by dehydration, salt deficiency, and transition to the new energy source
- reduced muscle mass: may be caused by increased fat and reduced protein intake
- muscle cramps: this is due to a lack of minerals
- fruity breath: this is due to acetone, a ketone antibody
- insomnia: this is caused by low serotonin and insulin levels
Taking potassium and magnesium supplements, and drinking more water may help you overcome these side effects.
Potential benefits of the keto diet
For people with specific metabolic conditions, the keto diet can be extremely helpful. An increase in blood glucose levels triggers the pancreas to create insulin. The keto diet can reduce the amount of glucose and insulin in your body, reducing your risk of diabetes.
The ketogenic diet may also temporarily make you feel more focused, as ketone fuels the brain to help address:
- Epilepsy: by reducing seizures through ketones and decanoic acid
- Alzheimer's disease: by inhibiting a nutrient sensor known as mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR), which clears beta-amyloid protein from the brain
- Parkinson's disease: by protecting brain neurons from damage done by MPTP, and also reduced inflammation
The diet can also increase your stamina. Your mitochondria help to power your cells by converting food and oxygen into calories and energy respectfully. Use ketones to accomplish this is easier for your mitochondria than using glucose.
Researchers speculate that the increase of protein in your diet can sate your hunger, affecting your appetite-control hormones and increasing the breakdown of lipids.2
Obese patients with insulin resistance have difficulty metabolizing carbohydrates in the muscle cells, so their ingested carbs are sent to the liver and turned into fat. A low carb diet can help obese patients lose weight.2
Other conditions that may be resolved on a keto diet include:
- heart disease: the diet can improve risk factors of heart disease, such as body fat, HDL cholesterol, and blood sugar
- cancer: cancer cells are fueled by glucose, which the keto diet removes
- PCOS: a reduction of insulin levels can reduce the androgen production that helps to cause PCOS
What foods should you eat and avoid while on a keto diet?
Saturated fats are important for a balanced diet, as these can raise your high-density lipoprotein (HDL). HDL removes cholesterol from your blood and is associated with a lower risk of heart disease.
Saturated fats also turn small and dense low-density lipoprotein (LDL) into mostly-benign large LDL that can't penetrate your arteries and cause heart disease. Palm oil, coconut oil, butter, cocoa butter, naturally fed/raised meats, dairy products from grass-fed cows, dark chocolate and coconuts are all robust sources of saturated fats.
Other keto diet foods include:
- heavy cream: this is rich in calories and fat
- eggs: these are rich in protein and fat
- chicken thigh: this is a good source of selenium, zinc, and B vitamins; chicken skin also contains fat
- ground beef: this has a lot of fat and vitamin B-12, the later which keeps your energy levels up
- avocado: this is rich in fiber, which you may not get a lot in your keto diet
- cucumber: this helps to keep you hydrated
- zucchini: this is rich in fiber and manganese, the later which helps control blood sugar
- lettuce: these can add bulk to your meals without adding many calories
Foods that have too many carbs and should thus be excluded from the keto diet include:
- processed foods and refined sugars
- starchy vegetables
- vegetable and hydrogenated oils
- artificial ingredients such as corn syrup, sweeteners, and preservatives
Reserve your appointment
You are what you eat. And so are your weight and neurological conditions. By stimulating your body to burn fat, you may treat obesity and epilepsy, but research is always required. To find a holistic nutritionist in Abingdon to help you safely accomplish anything from wedding weight loss to complete lifestyle transformation call (423) 301-6964 or contact Tri-Cities Functional Medicine online.
1. JS, Volek, et al. "Body composition and hormonal responses to a carbohydrate-restricted diet." Metabolism: clinical and experimental 51.7 (2002):864-870. Web. 17 Oct. 2018.
2. Paoli, Antonio. "Ketogenic Diet for Obesity: Friend or Foe?" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 11.2 (2014): 2092–2107. PMC. Web. 17 Oct. 2018.
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