How to lose fat #4: Ketogenic diet part 1

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The Ketogenic diet is a daily focus on the consumption of high fat and adequate protein with carbohydrates being very low. The theory is that with ketogenic dieting you’ll be able to lose fat faster by allowing the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates.

Does ketogenic dieting work? Is it unhealthy? Is it healthy? Should you do it?

We’ll answer these questions and more! This post should give you everything you need to know about ketogenic dieting in relation to the health and weight loss related questions. So let’s start at the main question…
DOES THE KETOGENIC DIET WORK?
Ketogenic dieting has a few benefits when it comes to weight loss

Below are some excerpts from my book: 30 day paleo weight loss plan: The solution and the science to lose fat fast and live healthy long term (includes what to eat and recipes)

  1. It can help with the control of weight, hunger, diet satisfaction and it can help keep your energy levels stable. All this despite you having to drop calories when dieting. This means that instead of feeling like you’re out of energy due to cutting food and feeling like you are still hungry after a meal, a ketogenic diet, with carbohydrates as low as 20grams a day, you will still feel good and feel like you had a decent meal (1)

  2. It can help diabetics be in control of their glucose. People trying to lose weight, when choosing to do the ketogenic diet, have been shown to have a better glycemic profile (2)
  3. Fights off sugar cravings that most have. If you ever have gone off having no carbohydrates and none of those concentrated sweets for a period of two weeks then you introduced fruit back into your body I can attest that you WILL be able to taste how much sweeter it is

  4. Helps with keeping sex hormones like testosterone optimal. When you diet you’ll naturally have to cut calories. Carbohydrates, protein and fats are the major components. When you cut out all the fat you’ll not have much to produce sex hormones which means that you can’t even get in the mood for some fun with your significant other among other side-effects. So when you focus on having fat and protein you’ll be able to Preserve muscle mass (3) and still lose fat without having the mentioned side effects.
  5. It’s a tasty way to lose weight. You are eating things like steak in butter, a nice vegetable omelette, chicken wings with tabasco sauce, a nice helping of salmon in lemon and celery dipped in almond butter and, a lot more similar things. Compare that to eating a low fat diet that consists of skinless chicken breasts with brown rice and brocolli every day or something similar…I don’t have to tell you which you’d enjoy more.
  6. Ketogenic dieting also can be used as a tool for sustainable fat loss. When you know you will pig out the next day due to an occasion and will have a few carbohydrates, you can simply use ketogenic dieting for the days leading up to that occasion so you can increase your insulin sensitivity to better use the carbohydrates rather than store them. Think of ketogenic dieting like a sandbox if you will. When you deplete your muscles and body of carbohydrates via ketogenic dieting you are taking sand out of the sandbox (the sand being carbohydrates) and when you have too many carbohydrates your sandbox gets filled beyond what it is capable, leaving you with a mess to clean up (which means fat). An example of how effective ketogenic dieting really is in terms of fat loss is a recent study that shows a group of people who adhered to a ketogenic diet and a Mediterranean diet. They would switch back and forth between the two every 2 weeks or so, and with the Mediterranean diet being the one consumed the last 6 months of the study. Every time the group switched to ketogenic dieting, they lost significant fat (4).

  7. When you do decide to have a little carbohydrate or sweet treat, due to the insulin sensitivity you gain from this, you’ll be able to better tolerate it, and least likely to put on fat since you need to replenish your glycogen stores from the carbohydrates (1)

PalumboFacechest

Dave Palumbo was a top bodybuilder who used ketogenic dieting with much success. He’s proof that using it works

OTHER BENEFITS OF KETOGENIC DIETING

Another benefit of ketogenic dieting has is that it can actually help with epilepsy (6). It is so effective in fact that “three months after initiating the diet, frequency of seizures was decreased to greater than 50% in 54%. At 6 months, 28 (55%) of the 51 initiating the diet had at least a 50% decrease from baseline, and at 1 year, 40% of those starting the diet had a greater than 50% decrease in seizures. Five patients (10%) were free of seizures at 1 year.” An over 50% reduction is very significant (5,6) 

What’s more is that “The CRKD (Caloric restricted ketogenic diet) is effective in managing brain tumor growth in animal models and in patients, and appears to act through antiangiogenic, anti-inflammatory, and proapoptotic mechanisms”(7).

WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS OF KETOGENIC DIETING AND HOW DO I COUNTERACT THEM?

The most claimed side effects of a ketogenic diet are the following:

  • Constipation
  • Kidney stones
  • Mineral deficiencies
  • Sugar cravings
  • Headaches
  • Frequent Urination
  • Reactive hypoglycemia

So let’s now see how we can counteract each of them to make the ketogenic diet safe, whilst gaining all the benefits out of it

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Constipation on the ketogenic diet

Usually, when people do ketogenic dieting they get rid of any fiber along with it. That means they don’t have any vegetables either. Fiber draws water to the colon and can help with this issue. So eat your greens! Supplementing with psyllium husk powder will help immensely also. Dehydration is another big thing that most people don’t realise is happening to them when on a ketogenic diet. Because of the increased protein and fat consumption you’ll need to drink more water. Salt loss is also experienced when ketogenic dieting, and while we don’t need much of it from diet in the first place, you’ll still want to have salt to counteract the constipation. Himalayan salt is natural and has a few minerals in it and is something I highly recommend. Magnesium concentrations are another thing that will be low in the minerals and supplementing with this will help.

Sugar cravings on the ketogenic diet

Sugar cravings are to be experienced especially if you have eaten sugary treats your entire life. The good news is that it doesn’t take long (months or years) to transition out of the cravings stage and takes a relatively short time (a week or two). Bad news is that you’ll be tempted at every corner to consume treats. Sugar can be just like a drug addiction, and this is something you must power through. Your will is the cure for this.

Kidney stones on the ketogenic diet

When you mention going on a ketogenic diet this will always come up as a side-effect. The reason they say is because of the increased protein and fat consumption will have too much strain on your kidneys or the higher rates of calcium based kidney stones in a few reports. First of all, if you have two functional kidneys you’ll be fine. If you don’t go too wild and extreme with your ketogenic dieting (just eating 10kg pork all day every day and nothing else) you’ll be fine too. Kidney stones are most likely to be formed when you DONT DRINK ENOUGH WATER, have too much sodium in your diet and you have low potassium levels. (8) Even still, only 6% of the people who were treated with epilepsy in children using a ketogenic diet formed any trace of kidney stones (8).

Taking a potassium citrate supplement will help prevent kidney stones on the ketogenic diet “Potassium citrate (Polycitra K) is a daily oral supplement that alkalinizes the urine and solubilizes urine calcium, theoretically reducing the risk for kidney stones” (8).

Mineral deficiencies on the ketogenic diet

When you limit yourself to one side of the extreme in terms of eating, such as restricting fruit and vegetables, and not having a broad range of food to eat (having little variety in your meals, such as having only steak everyday and not mixing it up with other food like fish, chicken etc), it’s going to be inevitable that you’ll suffer some mineral deficiencies. My best advise would be to always include vegetables in your diet no matter what. Supplements will be good at combating deficiencies also.

“One way to prevent side effects may be including the automatic use of supplements such as calcium, carnitine, selenium, zinc, and Vitamin D” Magnesium will help too (9)

Frequent urination on the ketogenic diet

Frequent urination will won’t be an issue as time goes on. With increased need of water intake as well as your body breaking down glycogen from the muscles (this is what people refer to as being “carb depleted”) this will explain why you will urinate more than usual.

Reactive hypoglycemia and headaches on the ketogenic diet

Reactive hypoglycemia and to an extent, headaches, will occur if you have binged on sweets your whole entire life. When you have eaten an excess of carbohydrates, much more than you need, for an extended period of time, your body starts relying more and more on it and in turn means you are inhibiting fat to be utilized as fuel. So when you go to having a drastic drop in carbohydrates for a few days, right after your glycogen is depleted from your muscles and liver, more insulin is secreted than it is needed (since you have trained your body this way). So your body sees your blood glucose is dangerously low and it means it has to get it’s sugar needs from somewhere else. So that means it’ll break it down most likely from your muscles (protein can be broken down into sugar, which in turns forms into glucose via gluconeogenesis).

If you feel super alert, heart racing and other symptoms this is your body using the sympathetic pathways to use adrenaline to break down protein from your muscles to get it’s glucose.

To counteract this effect you’ll have to three big meals instead of eating more frequent small meals. The reason being is that if your body has a need to find some way to get it’s energy needs, and that way was through the muscles you’ll need to counteract that effect by getting the body’s energy needs from your food. Having bigger meals will give a big dose of protein immediately rather than having your body to wait every 3 or so hours. Secondly having more protein at this stage will help too.

In the long-term period your bodies’ need of insulin will decrease over-time and therefore the symptoms will go away. You trained your body with reliance on excess carbohydrates, you need to retrain your body to rely on it’s fat stores.

IS THE KETOGENIC DIET HEALTHY AND SHOULD YOU KETOGENIC DIET?

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With all the presented information you can now come to your own conclusions. My advice would be to do the ketogenic diet if you

  1. Want to lose fat and are starting off obese
  2. Are diabetic and want to lose fat
  3. Have epilepsy problems and want to lose fat
  4. Have huge sugar cravings and want to conquer them

The ketogenic diet when used sparingly and short-term is absolutely healthy. If you decide to do this long-term and aren’t a super competitive athlete or work the most labour intensive job known to man on a daily basis (long term being every day for life) then that’s still fine too.

If you are coming from an obese background then a ketogenic diet can kick start you the right way in terms of fat loss. If you have a lot of fat to lose, the ketogenic diet shows that it can lower your bad LDL cholesterol, increase your good HDL cholesterol, it can also significantly reduce your triglycerides (the fat you are trying to get rid of). If you decide to follow this way of eating long-term until you get lean, there are no ill-effects (10)

You should NOT do ketogenic dieting if you are/have the following:

  • Kidney or any renal diseases
  • Only have one kidney
  • Have heart problems and you need to use a big amount of magnesium to counter-act some of the side-effects
  • Are a competitive athlete who trains like it’s their full-time job (you won’t be able to do this long term and it’ll be VERY short-term if you decide to do this)

In the next article of the ketogenic diet I will cover how to actual do the ketogenic diet, how you can make it a useful tool and help surpass any plateau you should have with fat loss and any other topics related to it

PAIN DOESNT HURT

 

 

REFERENCES

1. Boden G, Sargrad K, Homko C, Mozzoli M, Stein TP. Effect of a low-carbohydrate diet on appetite, blood glucose levels, and insulin resistance in obese patients with type 2 diabetes. Ann Intern Med 2005;142:403–11.

2. Gumbiner B, Wendel J.A, McDermott M.P (1996). Effects of diet composition and ketosis on glycemia during very-low-energy-diet therapy in obese patients with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. AM J clin nutri. Jan;63(1):110-5.

3. Layman, D.K., E. Evans., J.I. Baum, J. Seyler, D.J. Erickson, R.A. Boileau. (2005). Dietary protein and exercise have additive effects on body composition during weight loss in adult women

4. Paoli, A., Bianco, A., Grimaldi, K.A., Lodi, A., Bosco, G. (2013). Long term successful weight loss with a combination biphasic ketogenic mediterranean diet and mediterranean diet mainteanance protocol.

5. Vining, E.P., Freeman, J.M., Ballaban-Gil, K., Camfield, C.S., Camfield, P.R., Holmes, G.L., Shinnar, S., Shuman, R., Trevathan, E., Wheless, J.W. (1998). A multicenter study of the efficacy of the ketogenic diet. Nov;55(11):1433-7.

6. Ramm-Pettersen, A., Nakken, K.O., Haavardsholm, K.C., Selmer, K.K. (2014). Occurrence of GLUT1 deficiency syndrome in patients treated with ketogenic diet.

7. Seyfried, T.N., Kiebish, M., Mukherjee, P., Marsh, J. (2008). Targeting energy metabolism in brain cancer with calorically restricted ketogenic diets. Nov;49 Suppl 8:114-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1167.2008.01853.x.

8. MvNally, M.A., Pyzik, P.L., Rubenstein, J.E., Hamdy, R.F., Kossoff, E.H. (2009). Empiric use of potassium citrate reduces kidney-stone incidence with the ketogenic diet.

9. Kossoff E.H., Wang H.S. (2013). Dietary Therapies for epilepsy. Biomed J. doi: 10.4103/2319-4170.107152.

10. Dashti, H.M., Mathew, T.C., Hussein, T., Asfar, S.K., Behbahani, A., Khoursheed, M.A., Al-Sayer, H.M., Bo-Abbas, Y.Y., Al-Zaid, N.S. (2004). Long-term effects of a ketogenic diet in obese patients.

 

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