Along with the Mediterranean and the Dutch diets, the ketogenic diets (or keto) are among the most popular in the world. High in fat and protein and low in carbohydrates, this type of diet has enough evidence to prove its efficiency to lose weight quickly, although the most respected specialists maintain that it is difficult to maintain it over time (which is why they group it together within the so-called yo-yo diets ) and warn about their risks.
“It is a search for magic. No extreme or heterodox eating pattern can be adopted as a way of life. Therefore, sooner or later, it will be abandoned. In other words, the diet will break along with the spell. And so will appear, with its pompous and breathtaking entry of illusions, the pregnancy of the lost weight, “tells Clarín Dr. Monica Katz, who adds:” While it is true that they facilitate weight loss, they have multiple negative effects on health. Given that humans have only three available fuel options – carbohydrates, proteins, and fats – to compensate for the decrease in carbohydrates, the contribution of proteins and especially fats is increased. “
However, even so, according to different studies, the ketogenic diet can have other effects on health, which do not necessarily have to do with weight loss . These claim that it has healing properties for brain conditions, such as neurodegenerative diseases and epilepsy. And it also has a powerful impact on endorphin levels and mood.
But, let us start at the beginning.
What is a ketogenic diet?
“In essence, it’s a diet that causes the body to release ketones in the bloodstream. Most cells prefer to use sugar in the blood, which comes from carbohydrates, as the body’s main source of energy. In the absence of circulating blood sugar from food, we begin to break down stored fat into molecules called ketone bodies (the process is called ketosis). Once you reach ketosis, most cells use ketone bodies to generate energy until we start eating carbohydrates again. The change, from the use of circulating glucose to the breakdown of stored fat as an energy source, generally occurs during two or four days of eating less than 20 to 50 grams of carbohydrates per day.
According to a specialist in pediatric neurology at the Italian Hospital, has been a ketogenic diet for years in the treatment of epilepsy. “Epilepsy affects 1 in 100 children and 30% does not respond favorably to drugs, so they can resort to a ketogenic diet that improves their seizures and cognitive functions,” says Vaccarezza.
“The ketogenic diet is a treatment used to help control seizures in children suffering from intractable epilepsy. This diet has existed since the beginning of the year 1920, but its use decreased with the development of many appropriate drugs to treat seizures. Since the nineties its use has been increasing thanks to an emblematic case in the United States of a child named Charlie, who was cured of his epilepsy thanks to the ketogenic diet “, adds the specialist.
Let’s see then, other probable health benefits of following this at least controversial diet:
1- It can have healing effects on the brain
“High-fat ketogenic diets have healing properties for brain conditions such as neurodegenerative diseases and epilepsy,” Dr. Cardiologist Luiza Petre told Insider. He added that a steady intake of fats from a keto diet will also have a powerful impact on endorphin levels and mood.
2- Can be used as a treatment protocol for diabetes
“More and more evidence supports the use of the ketogenic diet as a treatment protocol for diabetes,” said Monica Auslander Moreno, a nutrition consultant at RSP Nutrition. “A ketogenic diet drastically reduces carbohydrate intake and, therefore, the need for so much insulin. As a result, it can calm the body’s insulin response. “
3- It can help regulate hunger and control desire
According to the New York Times, eating foods with a high glycemic index, including most processed carbohydrates, can cause a dramatic increase and decrease in blood sugar levels, which can stimulate hunger.
Since the keto diet is low in carbohydrates, “following it can stabilize blood sugar levels and, therefore, suppress appetite.”
4- You can burn more fat during a workout
In an interview with Shape, famed personal trainer Ramsey Bergeron explained that doing cardio while following the ketogenic diet can, “help increase fat oxidation, save glycogen, produce less lactate and use less oxygen.”
5- Can help improve polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and fertility problems
“By avoiding insulin spikes while following a ketogenic lifestyle, women with PCOS report a reversal of the increase in androgen hormones, specifically testosterone, which reduces the symptoms of PCOS and increases fertility,” dietitian Molly explained. Devine.
On the other hand, according to published the Huffington Post, there is very limited academic research of the last 3 years on the subject of conception (or fertility) and the ketogenic diet. A study of rats showed that obese rats induced by the diet had reduced reproductive capacities, and a diet high in fats reduced it even more.
However, a recent meta-analysis had promising results, with five of the six studies reviewed showing significant positive improvements in reproductive hormones after low-carbohydrate interventions. This review is far from conclusive, but suggests that more research should be done to determine the effects of low-carbohydrate diets on fertility.
While there is little specific research on the ketogenic diet and fertility, there have been many recent developments regarding keto and other conditions related to fertility.
6- Can improve the health of the skin
Acne and other skin problems are commonly due to underlying inflammation and insulin resistance, according to Massom. Because ketones, a chemical produced by the liver that serves as a fuel in a low-carbohydrate diet, are anti-inflammatory, “a diet that causes our body to generate ketones will help reduce inflammation and unwanted acne,” he said.
7- Can improve your cholesterol
“The ketogenic diet has been associated with improved biomarkers such as HDL cholesterol and triglycerides compared to a low-fat diet, but LDL cholesterol can increase and that can be worrisome,” dietitian Katey Davidson said.
For its part, Healthline points out that there are cases in which a diet low in carbohydrates can increase your cholesterol due to the amount of fat consumption. It is important when you give up a macronutrient, such as carbohydrates, and balance others.
Meanwhile, Dr. Campos said: “The ketogenic diet improves the control of blood sugar in patients with type 2 diabetes, at least in the short term. There is even more controversy when we consider the effect on cholesterol levels. Some studies show that some patients have an increase in cholesterol levels at the beginning, only to see cholesterol fall a few months later. However, there is no long-term research to analyze its effects over time on diabetes and high cholesterol. “
“A ketogenic diet could be an interesting alternative to treat certain conditions, and can accelerate weight loss. But it is difficult to follow and can exaggeratedly increase the consumption of red meats and other fatty, processed and salty foods that are notoriously unhealthy, “says the Harvad professor.
“We also do not know much about its long-term effects, probably because it’s so difficult to maintain that people can not eat this way for a long time,” he adds.
“It is also important to remember that the” yo-yo diets “that lead to the rapid fluctuation of weight loss are associated with higher mortality,” writes Dr. Campos.
“Instead of participating in the next popular diet that would last only a few weeks or months (for most people who include a ketogenic diet), try to adopt a change that is sustainable in the long term. A balanced and unprocessed diet, rich in very colorful fruits and vegetables, lean meats, fish, whole grains, nuts, seeds, olive oil and lots of water seems to have the best evidence for a long, healthy and vibrant life, “Campos recommended. .
“What makes the difference in long-term weight loss is not the manipulation of nutrient proportions, but the intake of calories. Although obesity is a complex problem, a conventional diet, varied, balanced and pleasant, with an adequate proportion of proteins, fats and carbohydrates in the “fair portion”, accompanied by physical exercise and techniques of coping with emotions and management of stress, is still the healthiest way to lose weight, “says Dr. Monica Katz. “I have already stated that I consider that every idea is neutral, the problem is to turn it into a phobia and contaminate it with others. We are witnessing an unpublished carbophobia “.
“The question then is: how to lose weight? The answer is evident: at least not excessively decreasing calories and including what is preferred every day in the right portion. Pleasure is not an extra, it is the axis of our decisions and even more when it comes to eating. Of course, the secret is to increase the usual exercise and manage our emotions without using food, “Katz said.