Ketogenic diet – The low carbohydrates, high fat and moderate protein?

<strong><a href="">Ivy Chua @ HWHK Writer</a></strong>
Ivy Chua @ HWHK Writer

Currently an Accredited Practising Dietitian. Aims to inspire everyone to have a healthy and mindful eating.

Ketogenic Diet – #KETO?

#KETO – you may see it everywhere on social media.

Ketogenic Diet (#KETO) is a diet low in carbohydrates (5%), moderate in protein (10%-20%) and high in fat (70%-80%). People who are having the ketogenic diet have a moderate amount of protein-rich food, which includes meats, a lot of high-fat food (e.g. avocado, butter, cheese and olive oil), and the minimal amount of carbohydrates food sources (e.g. grains and starchy vegetables).

The Ketogenic diet mechanism?

Our body converts carbohydrates into glucose as the first source of energy. However, when the carbohydrates are not available, our body breaks down our fat into ketones as an alternative source of energy. The ketogenic diet aims to trigger the process of ketogenesis in the body. Ketogenesis is an alternative pathway our body uses to release energy in terms of emergency. For example, if you are not having any carbohydrates, which is the first source of energy the brain prefers to use, our body produces ketones from our fat storage to keep us alive.

This diet is not new and is known in the medical field as a therapy for epilepsy (seizure disorder) in children for years. Evidence shows getting more calories from fat helps control seizures. However, this diet for epilepsy should be managed along with the health care team since it is very complex. To illustrates, it requires very precise calculation and measurement of the ratio of fat, carbohydrates and protein intake to ensure the expected response of ketogenesis of epilepsy patients.

Is ketogenic diet safe to follow?

Ketogenic diet has recently become popular with the general public as a weight-loss-diet. It can lead to short term weight loss, yet, it is restrictive and very difficult to sustain. This diet eliminates particular food groups and restrictive behaviour can cause overeating or yoyo diet. It is very hard to eliminate carbohydrates in the long term because it is the main source of energy and most of the food contains carbohydrates.

Who are not recommended to follow this diet pattern?
  1. People with diabetes who is undertaking insulin or medication that may pose the risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  2. Liver conditions – The high fat intake in the Keto diet increases the burden of the liver. If there is an excess amount of fat to metabolise, it can worsen the existing liver conditions.
  3. Kidney conditions – Keto diet may lead to an increase in protein intake, which increases the burden of the kidney.
  4. Pancreatic diseases
  5. Eating disorder

On the other hand, this diet causes the body to undergo ketogenesis. The production of keto can lead to short term health risk, including stomach discomfort, fatigue and trouble sleeping. Cutting out food with carbohydrates including fruits and vegetables can reduce the fibre intake in your diet, which may lead to constipation. All of the whole grains, fruits and starchy vegetables contributes to the multivitamins and minerals. You may miss out on these nutrients if you follow the keto diet! In addition, carbohydrates cause an insulin response which helps the protein to enter the muscles for muscle growth. Therefore, low or even no carbohydrates intake in your diet affects the growth of your muscles.

Overall, Ketogenic diet is not a long-term fix in weight management and it is very restrictive. It is very hard to stick with and the results are not sustainable. You may easily regain the weight once you resume a normal diet. The restrictive behaviour in the diet may also trigger disordered eating in the long term. When it comes to weight management, the plan should be consistent and should fit your lifestyle well.

It is always important to consult with doctors and dietitian before starting a SPECIAL DIET.

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