As a nutritionist-dietitian practicing for more than 10 years, I know many of you are still looking for what could FINALLY be the miracle diet that can optimize your body composition! For some time now, interest for the ketogenic diet has been growing. You have been many to ask me questions about it, so let’s talk about it!
The ketogenic diet is not new from yesterday! This diet was first created in 1921 to meet the needs of a very special clientele: epileptic patients. The ketogenic diet was effective when the medication was not. Then it has been prescribed for patients with cancer, since cancer cells feed almost exclusively on carbohydrates. A diet that is low in carbohydrates and high in fat does not allow these cancer cells to grow. And so, they die.
The ketogenic diet provides a very low proportion of carbohydrates, about 5%, contributing to our daily energy intake. The fats compensate and contribute to nearly 75% of the energy intake during the day. Proteins represent 20% of total energy intake. These types of proportions represent the traditional nutrition of Inuit, Maasai and Native American tribes.
Permitted foods include meats, fish, seafood, eggs, butter, vegetable oils, and leafy greens that are low in carbohydrates.
Foods allowed in moderation are dairy products, colorful vegetables richer in carbohydrates like carrots, sweet potatoes, turnips, squash, peas. Coffee, wine and strong alcohol are to be consumed in moderation too!
The foods to avoid are all refined sugars, grain products, legumes, fruits, natural sugars such as maple syrup and honey. Really, there is very little place left for carbohydrates in the diet…
Our body is programmed to fuel mainly on carbohydrates. When there is a lack of carbohydrate sources, it draws in the muscles first for energy, not in body fat! And yes, the muscles contain glycogen, a form of carbohydrate storage. This glycogen storage is the secondary fuel of the body. The use of muscle glycogen as a source of energy creates weight loss because of the water loss which happens at the same time! The use of body fat is manifested on the longer run. But the body does not like using too much fat as a source of energy because it produces ketone bodies, also called acetone, a toxic waste. The state of ketosis of the body appears 15 to 30 days after having started this diet and results in an increase of acidity in the blood which can be fatal!
Although in theory this diet can help reduce the symptoms of diabetes, hypertension and inflammation for examples, the ketogenic diet can also lead to dangerous effects such as increased episodes of hypoglycemia, risk of cardiovascular disease and kidney stones among others. In addition, the studies only showed potentially positive effects in the short term (1 year and under). So, there are no reliable and conclusive long-term statistics. The ketogenic diet is a treatment first and foremost and not a food trend for weight loss!
Has this article enlightened you? Do you have an experience or comment to share? It will be a pleasure to exchange with you!