By now we are all well aware of the ketogenic, or keto, diet. Is it a fad or a legitimate eating plan? Should you try the keto diet? We’re going to delve into all of that and much more, and why it probably isn’t for you. But first, we need a bit more information and scientific data to make an educated decision. Let’s get started.
*Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or a dietician, the information below contains my opinions and suggestions based on research studies and assumes the individual reading this is an average healthy individual with no underlying medical concerns.
What are Ketones and the State of Ketosis?
A great place to start is to understand what are ketones? Typically these are associated with people with diabetes, but in a normal person, ketones are usually the byproduct of starvation.
That can’t be good, right? Hang on, let’s look at some more information. According to the Diabetes Education Online, “in an individual with diabetes, dangerous and life-threatening levels of ketones can develop, but in a person who does not battle with diabetes, “blood sugar levels never get too high, because the production is regulated by just the right balance of insulin, glucagon and other hormones.”
Let’s look at someone who has diabetes. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases defines diabetes as “a disease that occurs when your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high.”Blood glucose comes from foods we eat and insulin helps that food move into your cells to be turned into energy. But sometimes the body doesn’t make insulin properly and there is nothing to help transport that blood glucose, so it stays in the blood but never transfers into the cells. This can cause many health problems and this lack of glucose in the cells leads to the liver forming and releasing ketones, which are alternate sources of fuel. The danger for one with diabetes is that sometimes when their insulin is low, again it isn’t transporting the ketones from the blood to the cells, and too many ketones in the body cause the blood to become acidic. Acidosis has a list of medical issues which you can read more about on Medical News Today.
How does this transfer to an average and normally healthy individual?
Puttin your body into a state of ketosis, which is the metabolic state where there are high levels of ketones in the body, “could cause low blood pressure, kidney stones, constipation, nutrient deficiencies and an increased risk of heart disease” and potentially lead to an overabundance of ketones in your blood, going back to a risk of acidic blood.
More About the Keto Diet
The keto diet focuses on low carb, severe, intake. The goal is to replace that with fat. First, let me mention that I am pro micronutrients and macronutrients. Your body, unless otherwise instructed by a health professional, enjoys, needs, and knows how to process proteins, carbohydrates, and fats and they work together to keep the system running well.
The ketogenic diet lowers blood sugar (or glucose, because glucose comes from carbohydrates) and insulin so much that the body shifts from converting carbs to energy to producing and converting ketones.
Through my research, I actually found there are different “types” of ketogenic diets. Some include cycling where they have to refeed days and will consume their carbs, others focus on high protein, and there are more we won’t discuss today, we are focusing on the standard, severely cut carb, original ketogenic diet.
It can be measured once a person is in ketosis through urine, blood, even breath tests. My fear would be how do I know how much is too much as far as when does it enter my bloodstream and turn it into acid?
Should You Try the Keto Diet?
I will not suggest one way or another. As I stated above in the disclaimer, speak with a health professional if you are considering going this route. It’s advertised as a fast weight-loss diet, but there are pretty substantial risks. There are legitimate uses for the diet, initially, keto was designed for those with epilepsy because of its connection in the brain, but that has been performed under close professional supervision.
Why the Keto Diet is Probably Not for You
Aside from the potential health risks, I will put my opinion out there as to why you probably shouldn’t try the ketogenic diet. For an otherwise healthy person, this is a restrictive and, for lack of a better term, crash diet. I have mentioned before I have a long history of eating disorders and in the past 3 years had developed my BED from a restrictive lifestyle. Most people do not need to cut out food groups, they need to cut down food portion sizes. But we don’t want to do that, do we? We want it all.
My personal advice to a friend would be to start with constructing a balanced meal of both protein, carb, vegetable, and fat and switching to smaller plates, not the normal dinner plate sizes. Consider measuring your food as well. A good rule is that your protein should be the size of your fist, carb equals your palm, fat is the size of your thumb, and fill half of your plate with vegetables. We overcomplicate things and make them more expensive than they need to be.