Ketogenic diets have been used to treat epilepsy and for weight loss.
Many body builders also use a ketogenic diet during their ‘cutting’ phase (attempting to burn as much fat as possible while retaining muscle mass). Ketogenic diets have gained some popularity due to the extensive media coverage of low/no carb diets such as Atkins.
Is a Ketogenic Diet Healthy?
A ketogenic diet is suitable for some people – but most definitely not all. Depriving the body of carbohydrates can place significant strain on the body – particularly liver and kidney function.
Many people will feel considerably fatigued during the first few weeks of ketosis – the body is trying to adapt to using ketones as a fuel source. Ketones are a byproduct of fat metabolism (fat burning).
There are many opposite schools of thought regarding the safety of a ketogenic diet – however the fact that many epilepsy sufferers have successfully been using ketosis for years – certainly gives the diet some credence.
However, it must be done carefully. Many who start the diet stop it within a few days due to the fatigue and difficulty encountered.
In order for ketosis to begin dieters must strictly follow these guidelines:
- Eat no more than 60 grams of carbs per day or 5% total calories.
- 70% of your calories should be from fat.
- 25% should be from protein.
If too much protein is consumed your body will convert it to glucose rather than converting fat to ketones.
- Yancy, W. S., Olsen, M. K., Guyton, J. R., Bakst, R. P., & Westman, E. C. (2004). A Low-Carbohydrate, Ketogenic Diet versus a Low-Fat Diet To Treat Obesity and HyperlipidemiaA Randomized, Controlled Trial. Annals of internal medicine, 140(10), 769-777. link
- Swink, T. D., Vining, E. P., & Freeman, J. M. (1996). The ketogenic diet: 1997. Advances in pediatrics, 44, 297-329. link
- Neal, E. G., Chaffe, H., Schwartz, R. H., Lawson, M. S., Edwards, N., Fitzsimmons, G., … & Cross, J. H. (2008). The ketogenic diet for the treatment of childhood epilepsy: a randomised controlled trial. The Lancet Neurology, 7(6), 500-506. link