Ever since the first weight loss diet became popular in the 19th century, people have utilized diets for their own needs to accomplish goals they have. Maintaining a stable body weight and improving health are the main reasons diets are used by many people. There are different types of diets, but one of the more commonly used today is the ketogenic or keto diet. As of right now, most people know the keto diet can reduce body weight and has other health benefits for some people, but not all. Many have questioned if the keto diet should be used to its side effects. Without a complete understanding of the effects and dangers, people will not know what to expect from using this diet. This paper will examine the effects of the keto diet to help determine if it is beneficial.
The ketogenic diet is a high fat, low carb diet. This diet generally allows an intake of about 165 grams of fat, 40 grams of carbs, and 75 grams of protein. The number of carbohydrates consumed are reduced and is replaced with healthy fats such as hemp hearts and coconuts. Most of the calories consumed should be from fat and protein. According to the article “The Ketogenic Diet Fa(c)t or Fiction”, James Wheless states protein and total calorie intake are based on age-adjusted standards. The classic diet nutritional composition is expressed in ratio of grams of fat to grams of protein and carbohydrate, usually starting with a 4:1 ratio. 90% of the dietary calories will be from fat. Usually when someone consumes foods that contain carbohydrates, it is converted into glucose and transported throughout the body. Glucose is an important fuel for the brain to function. Instead the keto diet forces the body to burn fat rather than carbohydrates. This process will assist the body in reaching a state called ketosis. With less intake of carbohydrates, this will allow the liver to convert fat into fatty acids and ketone bodies. Ketone bodies travels to the brain and is used as an energy source instead of glucose. Ketosis occurs when there are not enough carbohydrates available for the body to use for energy, so stored fats are broken down and used instead. Losing weight is a great benefit from using the keto diet.
Using the keto diet is highly effective for weight loss. When starting the diet, weight loss can occur during the first week. This is referred to as “fast weight loss”. In the article “Beyond Weight Loss: A Review of the Therapeutic Uses of Very Low Carbohydrate (Ketogenic) Diets”, A Paoli claims that after 3-4 days without carbohydrate consumption, the CNS (Central Nervous System) is “forced” to find alternative energy sources. In this case, ketone bodies are produced from the breakdown of fats, ketosis will be the most reliable indicator of fat weight loss. During fast weight loss, the primarily stored carbs and water are being used up. After initial rapid drop in water weight, body fat will continue to be lost. This will only happen if the carb intake is low and remain in calorie deficit. Losing weight is good and can lead to losing fat from the abdominal cavity.
A good proportion of fat is lost from the abdominal cavity. Fat is stored within the abdominal cavity and is referred to as visceral fat. This is typical for lots of people especially for overweight men. Visceral fat can damage the body as it lodges around organs and can strangle those organs. An excess amount of visceral fat is associated with inflammation and insulin that could cause metabolic dysfunction such as increasing the risk pf heart disease or type II diabetes. Low carb intake along with increasing protein intake and aerobic exercise will help in the process of losing visceral fat. Soon after losing a proportion of fat, one’s appetite will be reduced.
Following the keto diet significantly reduces appetite. Going through the process of adapting to the keto diet, the body will not immediately adjust. It may take a few days to adjust and hunger can be an irritating side effect until ketosis. Once the body is well adjusted to eating low carbs, it will lead to an autonomic reduction in appetite. Adam Tuzur, in his article “How the Ketogenic Diet Affects Hunger (Research Review)”, emphasizes that protein is the most satiating macronutrient and people typically eat more protein that they normally do. Ketones suppress appetite and alters hunger hormones such a ghrelin. Low levels of ghrelin make people less hungry. Many people using the keto diet will only need to eat one or two meals per day. This will result in developing a schedule of when to eat, how much to eat, and what to eat. Although reducing appetite is beneficial, this diet has been very useful in treating children with epilepsy.
For years, the keto diet has been used as a treatment for children with hard to control epilepsy. Epilepsy is a chronic disorder that causes unprovoked, recurrent seizures. Children with epilepsy suffer from mutation in GLUT-1 (Glucose Transporter), transports glucose across the blood brain barrier. The keto diet will alter the genes involved in energy metabolism in the brain that will help stabilize the function of neurons exposed to the challenges of epileptic seizures. According to the article “Ketogenic Diet- An Evidence Based Direction for Seizure Control”, Judie Arulappan recommends physicians to advise children to continue taking their medication for seizures if they follow the keto diet. Doses of medication can be reduced slowly as soon as the diet is started. It is recommended parents consult with a dietitian to discuss further improvement of seizure control. Effects of the keto diet can occur immediately or can take several months. Usually improvements are seen within the first ten weeks. Seizures are improved by 50% compared to prescribed medication that will improve seizures by 30% or may have no effects. If this diet can help with seizures, then it is no surprise it can improve the ability to focus.
A long-term effect of the keto diet is improving the ability to focus. Ketones is an important fuel for the brain and helps avoid an increase in blood sugar, which can help improve focus. Once the body adapts to burning fat for fuel instead of carbs, the mind will be able to expand its attentive capacity and process information better. If people’s mind are wandering or out of focus, they will struggle to comprehend anything they are learning or doing. Focus plays an important role in perception, learning, reasoning, problem solving, and decision making. So, with the help of the keto diet it allows people to be highly aware and see everything more clearly. Having better focus contributes to everything people do, but improving memory can be crucial as people age.
Memory can be improved without the consumption of carbs. As stated before, glucose is essential for the brain, but once ketosis is achieved, ketones is more sufficient fuel. Ketones increases the number of energy factories in brain cells that will lead to boosting the energy levels in those cells. This will affect the part of the brain that is important for memory. According the article “Dietary Ketosis Enhances Memory in Mild Cognitive Impairment”, Robert Krikorian stated carb restriction can produce memory enhancement. For 6 weeks, assessments were given to 23 subjects to measure long term memory. One assessment consisted of randomly arranged digits and letters of the alphabet. This required the subjects to alternately sequence the digits and letters by drawing connecting lines with a pencil. The second assessment was a verbal paired associate learning test that required to learn unrelated word pairs. After 6 weeks, these subjects showed improvement in memory function with a medium effect size in individuals with mild cognitive impairment. They had no difficulty completing the assessments which proves that carb restriction has a long-term effect on memory. Hippocampal cells play an important role in memory formation. These cells often degenerate in age related brain disease, leading to cognitive dysfunction and memory loss. So, the keto diet does contribute to memory especially as people age and has promising results.
Overall results of the keto diet is to lose weight. It has proven to maintain a higher metabolism while losing weight which can improve health or health conditions. Loss of weight comes from loss of water. When cutting down on carbs in a diet, the body uses up the carbs stored in the liver which hold onto water. The body continues to lose weight from loading up on whole, high fat foods. Once the body adjusts to the diet, a steadier supply of energy is developed. The keto diet can be beneficial for most, but can cause potentials problems such as the keto flu.
People can experience the keto flu when starting the keto diet. The keto flu is a collection of symptoms that are similar to the flu. These symptoms are caused as the body is adapting to a diet that is limited to a small proportion of carbs. There are a few symptoms that are more experienced than others, such as constipation.
Constipation can be a short-term effect of the keto flu. The body is designed to digest carbohydrates, fat, and protein. It is not easy to limit the intake of carbs when the body is used to digesting heavy loads of carbs. Limiting the carb intake too quickly can put the GI (gastrointestinal) tract into a stressed state. It takes time for the gut to get used to breaking down more loads of fat. The keto diet allows 20 to 25 grams of carbs to be consumed for beginners and cuts down on carbs. In the article “Early- and Late-Onset Complications of the Ketogenic Diet for Intractable Epilepsy”, Hoon Kang explained that constipation might be caused by a decreased intake of fiber. Eating less healthy carbs such as fruits and whole grains that contain fiber may not be good. It will not allow people to receive the necessary number of calories needed to keep bowel movements regular. Constipation may be unsatisfying, but not consuming carbs can lead to a feeling of tiredness.
A feeling of tiredness is a sign that the body may not function well without carbs. The body is accustomed to being on a high carb diet and most foods have carbs. When the body is deprived of the only energy source it has ever known, it will not function normally. This causes for the body to become weak. It is only a short-term effect that will last about the first week of being on the keto diet or until the body adapts to using fat as its energy source. Feeling tired can be exhausting and not being able to sleep can be a problem.
Consuming less carbs tends to effect sleep. Eliminating carbs eliminates the amino acid called L-tryptophan. L-tryptophan assists with the production of serotonin. Serotonin helps calm the body and regulate sleep. Serotonin is converted into melatonin which is known as the sleeping hormone. Without any carbs in the diet, the body will not contain L-tryptophan and low levels of serotonin. This will cause difficulty to sleep and possibly insomnia. Not being able to sleep can be bad for the health, but diabetics reducing intake of carbs can be dangerous.
Diabetics reducing their carb intake can cause a life-threatening condition. This condition is called ketoacidosis. In the article, “Diabetic Ketoacidosis”, Abbas Kitabchi states diabetic ketoacidosis is a metabolic derangement consisting of three concurrent abnormalities: high blood glucose, high ketone bodies, and metabolic acidosis. Ketoacidosis occurs when the body starts breaking down fats at a fast rate and produces high levels of blood acids. Diabetics using the keto diet results in having high blood sugar levels and low levels of insulin. Without enough insulin to control their blood sugar levels, they will not be able to stay healthy. If diabetics consider using this diet, they should not and there can be other solutions for these potential problems such as the Atkins diet.
The Atkins diet is similar to the keto diet yet different. It limits carb intake so it can allow the body to reach ketosis and start burning fat as its main fuel source. It can have the same outcome as the keto diet, which is weight loss. With the Atkins diet, the carb intake can slowly increase instead of having little to no carbs on the keto diet. Increasing carb intake will allow the body to have a wide variety of foods such as more fruits and vegetables. This diet may be beneficial for some people since it is less restrictive and does not keep the body in state of ketosis. The Atkins diet can be a short-term solution, but the south beach diet can be a long-term solution.
The south beach diet can be a long-term solution for most people. Adding small amounts of carbs makes it easier for people to continue this diet. It is a modified low carb diet that allows the body to burn fat to increase metabolism. It allows people to consume low glycemic carbs, but a large amount of protein and healthy fats. Low glycemic carbs include soy products, beans, milk, pasta, grainy bread, etc. Low glycemic carbs help type II diabetics with high blood sugar, lower risk of heart disease and weight loss. This diet can be more beneficial with less side effects, but speaking to a nutritionist about dieting can be informative.
Speaking with a nutritionist can be informative for those who do not know about diets. They will help people with eating the proper foods and sustain a good diet that will support their lifestyle. Using the keto diet can be a good start to help with metabolism, but it may not work for everyone. Not everyone will be affected in the same and have the same results. It is important to change eating habits for long-term results.
Everyone needs to consider what the keto diet has to offer for them. Everyone’s body function different, so everyone may not get the same results. The keto diet has benefits, but it does not mean it will not have side effects. Using this diet could cause potential problems, but all research conducted restates that it can be a positive experience or beneficial for most people. Those who consider using the keto diet showed should be done under the supervision of a nutritionist or medical professional. Everyone should be aware of the risks, but the potential for the reward is greater than the risk.
Overall, many will disagree and say the keto diet will not be helpful, but it can make a positive change which can lead to a healthier lifestyle. Despite its short-term problems, the keto diet is beneficial as long people use it properly and are well informed of what can provide. There has been previous research showing faster weight loss on the keto diet or low carb diet compared to a low-fat diet. Although, there has not been enough research to analyze the long-term effects on diabetes and high cholesterol. It would be enlightening to know whether there can be long-term effects on diabetes and high cholesterol so people and medical professionals can have more knowledge about this diet.