The Ketogenic Diet: Is it right for you?

At this point, I am sure you have heard of the Ketogenic diet - one of today’s popular fad diets. The ketogenic diet has been used for several decades, originally to treat children with epilepsy. It has more recently gained popularity for its success with weight loss.

What exactly is the ketogenic, or “Keto diet”? It is a high fat, low carbohydrate diet. It typically contains 60-70% fat, 20-30% protein and 5-10% carbohydrates. This amounts to about 20-50g of carbs in a day, which is equivalent to 1-2 sweet potatoes or 1 banana. The idea is that your body learns to use ketones (fat breakdown products) as energy, rather than glucose (carbohydrate breakdown product). In doing so, the brain gets a better source of energy and utilizes body fat while sparing lean muscle, resulting in weight loss and a clearer mind. Who doesn’t want that? The diet has been shown effective for Metabolic syndrome, Type II Diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, Obesity, Traumatic Brain Injuries, Brain Cancer and Acne. We also know that with a healthier weight and reduced sugar intake we have better cardiovascular parameters.

Before you jump into cooking up some bacon with coconut oil and dropping the bread, think twice of whether this diet is right for YOU. The keto diet may seem all good; however, it is not appropriate for everyone. First off, be ready to experience the “keto flu” which can occur in the first couple of weeks as your body transitions to use ketones rather than glucose. Potential side effects include dehydration, constipation, electrolyte imbalance, and hypoglycemia. The diet should not be utilized in those with pancreatic or liver disease and disorders of fat metabolism. Those with diabetes should be closely monitored while on the diet as hypoglycemia can be a dangerous reaction.

The diet is also questionable for long term health. It has been shown useful short term (up to 2years); however, long term implications are currently unknown as research is limited. Some known adverse effects with long term use are fatty liver, kidney stones and vitamin/mineral deficiencies.

Let’s not forget that your individual constitution should always be considered before starting any new diet. Do you have any food intolerances or sensitivities? What foods are best for your blood type? Do you have an increased demand for certain nutrients? Does this fit with the keto diet?

The ketogenic diet can be very useful in some cases and improve health but should be used with caution and you should be cleared by your doctor first for safe use. As always, consider a variety of whole foods and let’s remember the carbs in a sweet potato are not equivalent to the carbs in a candy bar.

In health,

Dr. Christine Kadykalo

Whether you are considering the ketogenic diet, or are seeking better nutrition, give us a call to schedule your first naturopathy visit. We will work together to create a treatment plan and devise a nutritional guide that works for you, and takes into account your health history and the specific needs of your body and your lifestyle.