Health and Fitness Series
Every few years something new for weightloss pops up and takes the world by storm. The ketogenic diet has been around for thousands of years dating back to Ancient Greek and Indian Physicians. More literature in the early 20th century, around 1912, and again in 1921. All of this research pointed toward Ketogenic Diets helping those with epilepsy. The research is pretty outstanding, especially for the positive outcome in the youth with epilepsy. The keto diet revolution started picking up ground in the 1990's when a Hollywood producer spoke about his son's epilepsy control through the keto diet. In the mid 1990's, a foundation and funding were created to make new discoveries about Ketosis.
So what is Ketosis... a metobolic state in which our human bodies no longer have glucose to burn for energy and use fat. The fat ingested and the fat in storage breaks down into fatty acids and are converted into ketones by ketogenesis. I'll spare you the biochemistry of it all, and skip to the understandable stuff. Like I have mentioned in earlier posts, our human bodies are super smart and know how to accommodate a lot of changes. Some changes take a little bit longer then others, so each person may be a little different. Back to ketosis...I'm sure almost all of you are familiar with the Adkins diet or low carb dieting. Well, the keto diet is like Adkins on steroids. You are slashing your carbohydrate intake to almost nothing. Most traditional Keto-dieters try to stay under 5% carbohydrates for their caloric intake, which is roughly 50g or less depending upon your activity level, size, and sensitivity. A nice example is a simple apple or even a banana, one of these babies a day and you might be over your limit for carbs. Let's not forget though, keto diets push the greens/veggies, and they too have carbs. A lot less and mostly fibrous carbs, but you count them. So in all reality, you aren't eating much of any fruit except for a few berries if you are lucky. You are eating Fat, more Fat, and more FAT. You are trying to consume around 75% of your diet as fat. That leaves about 20% to protein. Quick perspective here, a 2000 calorie diet on keto at 80% fat is 1600 of your 2000 in just fat alone. That 1600 calories from fat is anywhere between 140-170g of fat.
Above are great representations of our standard American diet, low carb diet, and the classic keto diet. There is a DRASTIC difference in the amount of carbohydrates consumed (blue) between our standard and the keto diet. Here's the evil little problem though, you have to keep your proteins in check while trying to get to keto and stay in keto. See, glucose is the body's preferred fuel for energy. If we no longer have glucose available because we drastically cut out our carbohydrates, then our bodies turn to any excess protein we may have ingested. Believe me when I tell you, it's quite hard to keep those proteins down to only 20% when you are not a "scoop coconut oil out of the jar and eat it" kind of a person. I find eating pure fat kinda gross honestly. Try oil pooling and tell me how much you LOVE coconut oil sloshing around in your mouth for awhile, ick! Back to protein, when you eat more than your body needs for a day, you trigger something called gluconeogenesis. Gluconeogenesis happens when your body converts amino acids (from protein) into glucose (for energy) which then increases your insulin and finally reduces ketones. My last little reminder about the fat consumption is this, watch your calories! Remember our macro counting that calories from fat are 9kcal/g as compared to protein and carbs only being 4kcal/g. Those extra calories add up REALLY fast. So many people think that they are going to be so full from all of the fat they get to eat, not really the case. One pound of bacon is roughly 2000 calories, not to mention 169 grams of protein. Again going back to the old 2000 calorie diet, this means you ate all of your calories in that pound of bacon and went over your protein by 69g. (20% protein in a 2000 calorie diet = 400 calories from protein divided by 4cal/g of protein and you are allowed roughly 100 g of protein) So much for chewing on a few packages of bacon.
Now you have a little better idea when someone says they can eat all the bacon and meat they want to....not the case. The protein will shoot you right out of ketosis. This is my major point with the keto diet, it's DARN hard to stick with and I don't think it should be a long term commitment for health reasons.
Do I encourage Keto Dieting? yes and no. Yes, I mentioned that it is hard, but what isn't hard that takes work?!?! Eating like crap is easy, but it's not getting you anywhere except into your grave. Let me start by the biggest question, is keto dieting safe? Yes, I feel if done properly with proper guidance and strictly short term, it is safe. The biggest safety factor is ketoacidosis. When there are too many ketones in your bloodsteam, your blood becomes too acidic. Ketoacidosis is the leading cause of death to people with diabetes under the age of 24. Be cautious with any new diet and know your body.
Pros and Cons
Left me briefly touch on toxin release. We are exposed to toxins everyday in the food we eat, air we breath, and things we touch. As toxins enter our bodies, they are both excreted out and stored. The toxins take refuge in our fat storage cells. As you start to burn up "old fat' , sort-a-speak, you have an increase in toxins trying to get excreted into your blood stream. Some may not notice this at all, but others can feel it and even see it. A lot of complaints I hear are skin reactions, an increase in acne and other skin irritations. For those that have pretty significant sugar addictions, the process of withdraw can also be pretty rough. Similar to alcohol and drug addictions, your body craves its sugar high. The cravings can be pretty darn harsh for some.
Briefly let me touch on the testing portion of this diet. A lot of new comers to the Keto-diet get super excited to buy the testing strips to see how soon they get into ketosis, and if they stay in ketosis. These little strips test the excess ketones in your urine. I don't recommend using them for the diet, and feel that they can be a huge disappointment. Every person is different and will test differently. Results can vary with what time of the day you are testing, when you last ate, and if you just exercised. Ketones are only in the urine when they are spilled over into the blood when you have an excess. Remember, ketones are now an energy source, so if you are expending a lot of energy in a workout, you are using up your excess ketone bodies for fuel. That means you will not get a good reading for the keto strips. They just aren't worth the time, money, and disappointment.
The above is a basic list of what is safe to eat to consume on the keto diet. Since the diet has gained so much popularity, many more fun and tasty treats have been created. One of my favorites are the keto bagels. After about the first week, you start to miss the buns on your sandwiches whether they are hamburgers at a BBQ or breakfast bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches. Some genius started showing the world how easy it is to make bagels/buns out of almond flour, eggs, and cheeses along with some spices of your choice. They REALLY help you keep the diet going. Dark chocolate treats with peanut butter, stevia, and some coconut also help satisfy that sweet tooth now and again. The only warning, is again, watch those calories. The above life savors are pretty high up there in calories.
My experience...of course I decided to give Keto a whirl, honestly to see of I could discipline myself enough to keep it up for a couple of weeks. It was pretty tough at times, but I was super thankful for the millions of pinterest recipes for keto foods. I did have the keto flu for about 4 days in the very beginning, the brain fog and sluggishness were very noticeable. I also dropped a pretty good amount of water weight right away. After the first week, my energy came back and I feel was increased. I no longer had the "carb coma" after a meal. I did struggle a little bit more with body temperature. Staying warm when I was not active was probably the most difficult struggle, but on the other hand, my body heat was turned up when exercising and sleeping. I regularly do low intensity fasting cardio in the mornings, this quickly became a sweat-fest while on the keto diet. I also had an increase in night sweats, that I contribute to a hormonal fluctuation. My weightlifting had it's ups and downs while in Keto. I had some of my best "leg day" lifts in keto, but my upper body lifts suffered. My upper body strength decreased quite significantly plus I struggled with the shakes under the weights. Lastly, the reasons I no longer dapple in keto are because of the side effects I struggled with were more then the benefits. I truly enjoyed the increase in energy and the lower water retention (aka bloatedness), but these weren't enough to sell me. The night sweats, and body temp regulation problems were not fun, but the struggle with weightlifting and the dizziness tapped me out. At one point, my dizziness reached a scary point of not being able to stand up and walk to my kitchen from my living room without grabbing the wall to stop myself from falling over.
Again, I do feel this diet can be very beneficial for some people. Those that have significant sugar addiction can likely benefit the most. It's certainly worth a try if you want to test your discipline and reset your metabolism. I think forcing your body to burn fats instead of the constant sugar feed is very beneficial. The first go around with Keto will probably be your most difficult, but also the most noticeable for the positive outcomes as well. Personally I stick to lightly dipping into Keto each morning when I am fasted from my intermittent fasting plus the light cardio. Along with the intermittent fasting, I carb cycle when I am trying to get myself back in check and/or cut. This allows me the benefits of going near keto, but not the struggles of actual keto dieting. Next week I'll bring more info to you about carb cycling.
Dr. MJ Wegmann,
Dr. Wegmann is one of the best Chiropractors I've ever been to. I own a house in L.A., Miami and N. Michigan and spend a lot of my working time in New York City. Dr. Wegmann is passionate and brilliant when it comes to spine knowledge and care. -I.H.
I really admire them for being more than willing to ask for help from other professionals in the field when they don't have an answer to my question. They aren't even slightly arrogant, and I'm confident they are the best choice in town. ~Jim