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Why do people love the ketogenic diet?

Samara Sonmore, being a food activist, thinks a lot about what she eats.

She followed plans that excluded sugar and flour, and looked for ways to stay healthy when she entered menopause. She "added a few pounds."

Sonmore, executive director of the Food Food Society of North Okanagan, began to look at all carbohydrates differently, and this led her to a ketogenic diet.

“I became interested in keto because people said it was a way of eating, not a diet. It’s a lifestyle change, not a fad, ”she said. "Strict keto for weight loss." Lazy keto and other variations are my style, as the focus is on health, not weight loss. ”

The first three weeks were a “terrible experience” with intense consumption of carbohydrates. Despite all her problems, it did not work.

“Then one day my pants fell at work,” she said. In six months, she lost 40 pounds and six pants sizes.

Full keto

“It’s not very easy for me,” said Vancouver writer Catherine Brodsky. "I went through" full keto "because I didn’t know if it would work otherwise."

While her friends were experiencing weight loss and improved energy, she did not feel much difference and eventually took her foot off the gas.

“I realized that even if I see the benefits, I won’t hold out with it, because I appreciate a lot of the products that you have to slice, as part of what makes my life enjoyable,” she said. “A good diet is one in which you don’t need to quickly fall off the wagon.

“Nevertheless, I try to avoid consuming as much as possible of the products banned on keto, and I treat oils differently. For example, avocado and herbal oil are really valuable nutrients. ”

Alex Inman is a registered nutritionist.

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What are we talking about?

Interest in low-carb diets caught fire in the 1990s due to the Atkins diet, which continued at the turn of the century, when the South Beach Diet switched to the romantic view of food as a Paleolithic caveman in 2012. The ketogenic diet is the newest and most extreme of all, but this does not stop its popularity for a minute. To better explain the situation, we turned to registered nutritionist Alex Inman, a Vancouver-based nutritionist, and UBC professor Okanagan Jonathan Little, who studies human metabolism and diabetes in relation to diet.

Where did the ketogenic diet come from?

The ketogenic diet, created in the 1920s for treating children with cramps, is designed to replace the fuel that your body burns from glucose to ketones, which come from fat. This fat burning phase is called ketosis and is the result of restricting protein and carbohydrates to 10 percent of your calories and eating about 90 percent of fat, Little said. This reduces the frequency of seizures in some people with epilepsy, because brain cells function differently when they burn ketones.

What is a modern ketogenic diet?

The ratio of fat, protein and carbohydrates depends on who you are talking to. Some nutritionists recommend up to 80 percent of calories from fat and only five percent of carbohydrates, 25 grams per day, max. Little believes that most modern diets for keto consume from 60 to 70 percent of fat and more, for example, 50 grams of carbohydrates, what he calls "dietary" or "whole food" ketogenic diet. They usually see an increased level of ketones, but they don’t really spend much time on ketosis, if ever.

“You can produce some ketones, and your muscles, heart, and brain can use them, but for the most part it helps people by maintaining low insulin levels and a higher rate of fat oxidation,” Little said. A decrease in insulin levels prevents the accumulation of energy in the form of fat.

“For most people, it’s helpful to simply exclude added sugar, refined grains, and almost all of the packaged junk food, so this is probably not the ketogenic part of the diet that gives benefits,” he said.

Listen Alex Inman: How complicated is the keto diet?

Registered nutritionist Alex Inman talks about the problems of the ketogenic diet.

What is allowed?

At first it sounds a bit sexy. You get meat, fats, eggs, seeds, berries, fatty dairy products and cheese, fish, chicken, butter, and salad with fatty dressing. You can also eat tofu if you want. Learn to love avocados, since you need fiber to avoid constipation.

“It's a lot of fat, and then you need to add fat. You do not just drink milk, you need to have heavy cream, add extra oil to your food, fatty meat, fatty fish, eggs and the like, ”said Inman. "These are very few carbohydrates, and you really have to control the amount of protein you eat, because too much will kick you out of ketosis."

What is not allowed?

This list is less sexy. You will not eat bread, pasta, cereal and woody fruits. Forget about potatoes – french fries and chips – and even delicious yams, which your paleo friends can enjoy. No more sugar, honey or agave, so cookies, cakes and sweets are all right.

There is no evidence that alcohol is incompatible with the ketogenic diet, but beer and beverages mixed with juice or juice should probably be avoided.

Who can benefit?

People with epilepsy, obviously, but also with certain types of cancer and type 2 diabetes. People who take insulin for diabetes can benefit from a low carbohydrate or ketogenic diet.

“You have to do this with the help of a medical professional, because you will need to change these medicines, as a rule, reduce or eliminate them,” Little said.

Are there any other benefits?

According to Little, some ketones can have a beneficial effect, like hormones in the body.

“The main circulating ketone is beta-hydroxybutyrate, which has been shown to have potential anti-inflammatory and antioxidant signaling functions,” he said. “Thus, it can act as a hormone that causes immune cells and other cells in our body to calm down, be less inflamed and produce less active forms of oxygen.

"Virtually every disease you look at includes inflammation and increased oxidation," he said.

Is keto a long term solution?

Almost everyone will experience weight loss in the short term, which may be the reason why otherwise healthy people do it. Inman notes that people also believe that the ketogenic diet suppresses appetite, improves mental concentration and energy, reduces anxiety, reduces high blood pressure, cures acne, controls cholesterol levels and "everything under the sun."

“Research does not aim to support keto to accomplish all of these tasks, except to improve blood sugar control and weight loss,” said Inman. “But when you follow in a year, they will not improve. Perhaps the diet is so restrictive that people cannot stay on it for so long. ”

Who should avoid keto diets?

Children on keto show poor growth and growth retardation, low bone density and an increased risk of fractures. According to Inman, women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant are also not recommended to do keto.

If you really want to try a keto diet, do it under the supervision of a nutritionist and ask your doctor to sign it too. Planning and deep knowledge of food are necessary to achieve and maintain ketosis. Without a well-thought-out plan, you may be deficient in calcium and vitamin D and an electrolyte imbalance of potassium, sodium and magnesium. Constipation and diarrhea are common, and you may experience muscle loss and increase the risk of kidney stones.

“Many people do not have enough knowledge about food and do not know where carbohydrates are in their food, so it’s very difficult for them to follow keto,” said Inman.


What about my brain?

"Children who do not respond to anticonvulsants often switch to a ketogenic diet, and this often helps them," said Inman. "There is no general idea that everyone will have more clarity or better focus or tune in to keto, but perhaps for some people." Changing the fuel of the brain, for some people "may not be good, but not for others." it does not matter. "

If you still enter ketosis, all your cells will notice changes in fuel, and many people experience keto-flu during this process, which can mean headache, fatigue, nausea and confusion.

The last word is acetone.

If you reach ketosis, your friends and family members may suffer from ketone byproducts, one of which is acetone, which is often used as a solvent and paint thinner. It smells bad and you can too. A warning from a partner of keto enthusiasts: “Keto is the only diet that you don’t need to tell the people you're on. You can feel it. Exhaled ketones are not pleasant in the work environment or in your home. Worst of all, of course, in bed. I accompanied a serial person for 26 years. Keto is my least favorite person.

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