Ketogenic Diet Review

First of all, what is the Ketogenic Diet plan? The Ketogenic Diet plan is best known as being a very low carb and high fat diet similar to the Atkins Diet and other low carb diets out there today. Ketosis is described in the dictionary as: “A metabolic state characterized by raised levels of ketone bodies in the body tissues, which is typically pathological in conditions such as diabetes, or may be the consequence of a diet that is very low in carbohydrates.” [1] Dr. Russell Wilder was one of the founders of this “diet” or revelation back in 1920’s when he was the first person to test for insulin in diabetic patients. [2] He was one of the head haunchos at the Mayo Clinic, and eventually became the head of department in medicine, metabolism, and nutrition.  

The goal with the Ketogenic Diet is to turn the body into a fat burning system by the foods you decide to energize it with. So what exactly are ketones? Ketones are little molecules of energy that are created in the liver from fat. They are used to fuel the body and the brain as they travel through the body. According to Dr. Jockers, there are three different types of ketones that have three different functions. The three different ketones are: acetate (Acetone), acetoacetate (AcAc), and beta hydroxybutyrate (BHB). [3] BHB is not really a true ketone, but it plays a crucial role in creating new neural tissue and stimulating the brain which is ketosis in a nutshell. AcAc is a primary ketone body and is usually converted into either BHB or energy. Lastly, acetone has the least amount of impact on the metabolic response and is usually secreted through the breath or urine which is why some people get “keto breath.”  

When you are going through a Ketogenic Diet, your main source of energy comes from the fat you are supposed to be burning. This program is not just for weight loss, however many people have pegged it that way. As you will see in the review below, this diet can be used for people with mild to severe health conditions, as well as people who are looking to get healthier and lower their body mass index. In the below sections I will break down the information behind what makes the Ketogenic Diet popular amongst many people in different health situations.  

Ketogenic Diet Claims  

Believe it or not, the Ketogenic Diet was used to treat children with epilepsy back in the earlier times and even so today. It has now morphed into a weight loss diet plan that many people use to help them drop pounds and revitalize their metabolism, alongside helping other physical conditions. But it is more than a diet for weight loss, as many people are still on it to try and get better from different health conditions. There are no supplements to buy, auto enrollments to jump into, or scams to watch out for. Because there is no actual website to look into regarding claims made to sell the diet to users, I will look into actual claims made by others on how the diet is supposed to work. When looking into different studies on why this diet is supposed to be effective, I found different viewpoints on it all. It isn’t a secret that low carb diets have gone through ups and downs regarding popularity.  

One of the positives noted from doing this diet was the fact that it kills hunger pangs, and you experience major drops in blood sugar levels because you are consuming more proteins and fats. When you take away a majority of carbohydrates and fluff and give your body more dense protein and fat, you will ultimately consume less. [4] Another comment regarding this diet is that you will be eating less carbs and move to a high fat replacement, which actually helps you lose white fat in your abdominal area.

According to Healthline,

“Low-carb diets are very effective at reducing the harmful abdominal fat. Not only do they cause more fat loss than low-fat diets, an even greater proportion of that fat is coming from the abdominal cavity.” [4] 

When you lose weight, your triglycerides. which are otherwise known as fat molecules, go way down. When your body is processing sugar and carbohydrates, it creates more triglycerides. When you have less of these in your body, your blood is healthier and so is your heart! Lastly, one of the largest fears when doing a diet like the Keto Diet is the amount of cholesterol you will be taking in from the proteins and fats. On the contrary though, your body will be producing healthy levels of HDL, otherwise known as High Density Lipoprotein. HDL carries bad cholesterol away from the body and to the liver to excrete. It can be seen as a cleanse overall, which is opposite from the big fear. [4] 

For those of you who do want to lose weight, but fear having no carbohydrates will keep you from the weight room, there is a Cyclical Ketogenic Diet that allows you to incorporate moderate to high quantities of carbohydrates every once and awhile. The shortened name for the Cyclical Ketogenic Diet is CKD, and it has the dieter going through cycles of low carb, high protein, and high fat to periods of high carb, high protein, and low fat. [5] As stated below there are many different types of Ketogenic diets to follow, so they are very personalized overall.  

The Ketogenic Diet Ingredients 

This is an overall diet program, not a diet supplement, so there are no real “ingredients” to look into. There is, however, a guideline on how you are supposed to be eating, which I will break down. There are different Ketogenic Diets to follow depending on your needs, for example there is a Vegan Ketogenic Diet if you do not eat animal byproducts, and there is a Ketogenic Diet for cancer patients as well as a Ketogenic Diet for weight loss.

According to the Charlie Foundation,

“This is an individualized and structured diet that provides specific meal plans. Foods are weighed and meals should be consumed in their entirety for best results.” [6]

There are an abundance of Ketogenic Diet menu plans, Ketogenic Diet recipes, and Ketogenic Diet food lists to take advantage of for a more clear understanding of what you will be eating.  

In many of the food lists you will notice grass fed meat and wild animal sources you can eat freely.

For example: “grass-fed meat (beef, lamb, goat, venison), wild-caught fish, & seafood (avoid farmed fish), pastured pork and poultry, pastured eggs, gelatin, ghee, butter – these are high in healthy omega 3 fatty acids.” [7]

It is best to steer clear from processed meat and sausage covered in sugars, breadcrumbs, and unhealthy fats. Healthy saturated fats are also allowed like coconut oil and ghee butter, as well as monounsaturated fats like avocados and olive oil.  

Other approved foods are non-starchy vegetables like Swiss chard, bok choy, spinach, lettuce, kale, radishes, cucumber, asparagus, zucchini, etc. The only fruit that is technically approved on this specific diet plan is avocado, so do not get your hopes up for an apple or kiwi! Lastly, drinks are slim as well with water, black coffee, and protein powder being approved. All spices are also approved, as well as lemon and lime juice! On the occasion you can consume nuts and seeds, soy products, and fruits. Alcohol is even on the occasional list, as many people are going to be going out and interacting with friends and family. This is just a guideline to follow so that you can do your best on the Ketogenic Diet. 

Because fruits are limited on the program, it is best when you do consume them to try the lower sugar options first. This includes: strawberries, cranberries, mulberries, cherries, raspberries, and blueberries. If you are not sure what to eat on the program, there are an abundance of guides out there that will point you in the right direction. From PDF’s to blog posts to websites, you will not run out of options. Because there are different diet programs within the Keto Diet program, you can mix it up depending on your situation and health condition. A good site to reference is PerfectKeto. [8] 

The Science (or Lack Thereof) Behind The Ketogenic Diet 

Is the Ketogenic Diet a fad? You would think this is true based off of the number of low carb, high fat diets out on the market today, but there are actual studies backing up this style of eating. In one article, there are over 23 different studies done to prove that this type of diet does indeed heal the body from the inside out and help weight loss, as well as a number of other things. One of the studies was looking at a low carbohydrate diet to help those people who were categorized as obese and needing to lose weight. In the 1 year study, the results were impressive. With 63 participants who were overweight, they looked into the effects and found, “The low-carbohydrate diet produced a greater weight loss (absolute difference, approximately 4 percent) than did the conventional diet for the first six months, but the differences were not significant at one year. The low-carbohydrate diet was associated with a greater improvement in some risk factors for coronary heart disease.” [9] 

Another study was done on the severely obese, and they were looking into the Ketogenic style diet versus the low fat diet for results. The study involved 132 obese patients who had a body mass index of 43 and higher as well as diabetes. Out of that number, there were 79 people to fully complete the study of 6 months.

According to the results,

“Severely obese subjects with a high prevalence of diabetes or the metabolic syndrome lost more weight during six months on a carbohydrate-restricted diet than on a calorie- and fat-restricted diet, with a relative improvement in insulin sensitivity and triglyceride levels, even after adjustment for the amount of weight lost.” [10] 

So the facts about lowering triglyceride levels and losing abdominal fat have both been proven in the two studies above. But what about healthy individuals that want to lose a little weight, but are worried about their heart health and their energy levels with such a low carb diet? As mentioned above, there is a Cyclical Ketogenic Diet available to follow, as well as different studies done on the effectiveness of this program overall even for healthy people. One of those studies took a deeper look into healthy women and the potential risk of cardiovascular health when going through a low carb diet. There were 53 women who participated in the study for a 6 month time period. The results showed that there was no major difference in cardiovascular risk for the healthy women when completing this study.  

They quote,

“The very low carbohydrate diet group lost more weight and more body fat than the low fat diet group. Mean levels of blood pressure, lipids, fasting glucose, and insulin were within normal ranges in both groups at baseline. Based on these data, a very low carbohydrate diet is more effective than a low fat diet for short-term weight loss and, over 6 months, is not associated with deleterious effects on important cardiovascular risk factors in healthy women.” [11] 

When looking into the different studies done on the effectiveness of this particular diet program’s guidelines and the other diets such as low fat, this one is deemed to be most effective for overall weight loss and body health. There are strict guidelines to follow, but there is a reason many people are going through this program to better their health even if they do not have to lose weight. Other reasons for going on the Ketogenic Diet program could be to stop seizures, epilepsy, polycystic ovarian syndrome, metabolic disease, diabetes, certain cancer, Parkinson’s disease, obesity, traumatic brain injury, and Alzheimer’s disease. [12] 

One of the main similarities between some of these diseases and health conditions above is the brain. When you consume a higher fat and protein rich diet your brain is getting food. Regarding epilepsy, because it is one of the most studied diseases in conjunction with the Ketogenic Diet plan, the science is rather intriguing. The Epilepsy Foundation has a section for just learning about the Ketogenic Diet and how it can help your condition.

According to the site,

“The Ketogenic Diet has been shown in small studies (case reports and case series) to be particularly helpful for some epilepsy conditions. These include infantile spasms, Rett syndrome, tuberous sclerosis complex, Dravet syndrome, Doose syndrome, and GLUT-1 deficiency. Using a formula-only Ketogenic Diet for infants and gastrostomy-tube fed children may lead to better compliance and possibly even improved efficacy.” [13] 

With an extreme like looking into Alzheimer’s disease, there have been a variety of studies done on how a diet in proteins and healthy fats can greatly reduce your chance of getting or worsening the disease over time. The brain needs fat to function properly, and it also needs protein. With a degenerative disease like Alzheimer’s, they found that a Ketogenic style diet was the best method to see actual results. Dr. Perlmutter’s famous book, Grain Brain, speaks on behalf of this information, and on his website he references several studies done about the progress when eating a diet higher in fat and protein.  

When looking into a study done on over 2,000 elderly individuals over the course of 4 years regarding dementia, it was clear that diet played a huge role in their progress or decline. They were evaluated every 15 months to see if dementia had progressed in any way while constantly monitoring their diets.

“The results of the study were impressive by any measure. The risk of dementia in those at the higher end of the scale, in terms of carbohydrate consumption, increased by close to 90%! Those whose calories came more from fat were found to have a reduced risk of developing dementia by around 44%.” [14] 

Word On The Street About The Ketogenic Diet 

There are not any actual “reviews” done by people because this is not a diet supplement or a program that you purchase. Many times your doctor will recommend this program to you if they feel it will benefit your health. Even if they do not recommend it to you, you can always ask them to see what they think about it too.  As with any restrictive diet, it is always good to consult your doctor before going full fledge into it. Many times people who are going through the Ketogenic Diet are being monitored by a doctor anyway for other health conditions. There have been many people to successfully lose weight with the Ketogenic Diet as they are going through it. The moment they start letting carbs, refined sugar, and processed food back into their diet, the weight will come back on. Because putting your body into a state of ketosis requires your blood sugar levels to drop significantly, hence the fat loss, you have to be mindful of energy levels. Many severely obese patients saw results with the Ketogenic Diet, as did people who were just “moderately” overweight due to consuming a higher fatty diet with less insulin spikes in their blood sugar levels. 

The Ketogenic Diet offers a different solution to weight loss, but that does not mean it is the only way to lose weight or the right way. For some, it might not be the best fit for their bodies, health, and lifestyle overall. With a low carbohydrate diet, you are also taking in less fiber and proper nutrients from fruits and some veggies. A list of foods that are encouraged while going through this diet are fats and oils such as avocados, coconut oil, butter, and beef fat. Proteins of all kinds are allowed, but be mindful of your processed meats because those are just plain bad for you. It, however, does have a solid plan for getting healthier overall, which is why people have seen success in the past, present, and even today.  

The Bottom Line: Is The Ketogenic Diet Worth A Try? 

Yes. While it may not be for everyone, nor will it work with everyone’s lifestyle, this diet plan is a strong one. There are many different Ketogenic Diet pdf’s to follow if you need a helping hand. There are no physical plans to purchase, groups to follow, or supplements to refill on. This diet promotes the consumption of high protein, nutrient dense foods. This will come with a high price tag though, as we all know that meats and health fats run more on the expensive side of things. Many folks who were extremely overweight, or children dealing with the battle of epilepsy found that this specific diet helped them get healthier, and stay that way. It really is a change of lifestyle rather than a specific “diet”, as you will need to continue to eat a Ketogenic Diet constantly to reap the benefits. 

There are many sample grocery lists online if you need more information on how to shop should you want to take a chance with the Ketogenic diet. You will not find a shortage of ideas and information in this regard. Be aware, however, that there are risks with dropping your blood sugar levels too low, especially if you are a diabetic, so adequate research and tests are a must if you fall into this category. Just because someone mentions this diet to you, does not mean you should start without having done your own research first. Just by simply looking into this diet plan, it will give you a better gage on whether or not it will fit into your lifestyle and truly be the right fit for your health needs. Stay in communication with your doctor before jumping into a strict eating plan like the Ketogenic Diet.

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