A slew of articles in recent months have referred to the ketogenic diet as a “fad” or “trend.” It’s “dangerous,” claimed one article, and an anonymous post by the Harvard Public School of Public Health said the diet “comes with serious risks.”1 Yet strangely, these critics seldom cite scientists or doctors who work with the diet, and many—including the Harvard article—cite no medical literature to substantiate their allegations. Without substantiation, many simply rehash long-contradicted, outdated claims.
Thank you for this comment. It is truth! I keep telling people about this diet. It is literally the best diet I have ever been on. I can eat good food, I feel full, my weight is dropping, I feel better and I can actually feel the difference. While it is great for a professional to be skeptical of emerging diet trends (and lets face it, most diet trends are garbage peddled by snake oil salesmen), this one actually has science from some prestigious institutions behind it, not a marketing scheme.
What the diet advocate says: Controversial Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson is a fan, crediting the diet for curing his daughter’s various ailments, from juvenile arthritis to depression. But it was popularised by Shawn Baker, author of the aptly titled ‘The Carnivore Diet’ – in which he describes the diet as ‘a revolutionary, paradigm-breaking nutritional strategy that takes contemporary dietary theory and dumps it on its head’.
Lele says that it’s important to remember that, while keto is a “high fat” diet, the goal is to use your body fat as an energy source, not the fat that’s on your plate. “You don’t need to necessarily add more fats to your diet to adhere to keto. For instance, if your dinner consists of avocado, bacon, and eggs, you really don’t need to add butter to that to make it ‘more keto’,” she says.
While there isn't "a" Mediterranean diet, most versions share many of the same principles. According to Oldways, the nonprofit food think tank in Boston that helped develop a Mediterranean food pyramid, you'll load up on fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts and legumes; eat plenty of fish and seafood; get a little poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt; and mostly pick at sweets and red meat. And don't forget a drizzle of olive oil and (if you want) a couple glugs of wine.
The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet that in medicine is used primarily to treat difficult-to-control (refractory) epilepsy in children. The diet forces the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates. Normally, the carbohydrates contained in food are converted into glucose, which is then transported around the body and is particularly important in fueling brain function. However, if there is little carbohydrate in the diet, the liver converts fat into fatty acids and ketone bodies. The ketone bodies pass into the brain and replace glucose as an energy source. An elevated level of ketone bodies in the blood, a state known as ketosis, leads to a reduction in the frequency of epileptic seizures. Almost half of children and young people with epilepsy who have tried some form of this diet saw the number of seizures drop by at least half, and the effect persists even after discontinuing the diet. There is some evidence that adults with epilepsy may benefit from the diet, and that a less strict regimen, such as a modified Atkins diet, is similarly effective. The most common adverse effect is constipation, affecting about 30% of patients—this was due to fluid restriction, which was once a feature of the diet, but this led to increased risk of kidney stones and is no longer considered beneficial.
Here’s what we do know: The keto diet may be useful in treating symptoms of epilepsy, a seizure disorder. “The use of keto in treating epilepsy has the most evidence,” Angelone says. One study conducted by Johns Hopkins Medicine, for example, followed epileptic patients on the keto diet and found that 36 percent of them had a 50 percent reduction in seizures after three months on the diet, and 16 percent were seizure-free. However, experts aren't entirely sure why the keto diet has this affect, she adds.
Wilder's colleague, paediatrician Mynie Gustav Peterman, later formulated the classic diet, with a ratio of one gram of protein per kilogram of body weight in children, 10–15 g of carbohydrate per day, and the remainder of calories from fat. Peterman's work in the 1920s established the techniques for induction and maintenance of the diet. Peterman documented positive effects (improved alertness, behaviour and sleep) and adverse effects (nausea and vomiting due to excess ketosis). The diet proved to be very successful in children: Peterman reported in 1925 that 95% of 37 young patients had improved seizure control on the diet and 60% became seizure-free. By 1930, the diet had also been studied in 100 teenagers and adults. Clifford Joseph Barborka, Sr., also from the Mayo Clinic, reported that 56% of those older patients improved on the diet and 12% became seizure-free. Although the adult results are similar to modern studies of children, they did not compare as well to contemporary studies. Barborka concluded that adults were least likely to benefit from the diet, and the use of the ketogenic diet in adults was not studied again until 1999.
The trick here is not only to avoid all obvious sources of carbohydrate (sweets, bread, spaghetti, rice, potatoes), but also to be careful with your protein intake. If you eat large amounts of meat, eggs and the like, the excess protein will be converted into glucose in your body. Large amounts of protein can also raise your insulin levels somewhat. This compromises optimal ketosis.
A small Feb. 20, 2017, study looked at the impact of a six-week ketogenic diet on physical fitness and body composition in 42 healthy adults. The study, published in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism, found a mildly negative impact on physical performance in terms of endurance capacity, peak power and faster exhaustion. Overall, researchers concluded, “Our findings lead us to assume that a [ketogenic diet] does not impact physical fitness in a clinically relevant manner that would impair activities of daily living and aerobic training.” The “significant” weight loss of about 4.4 pounds, on average, did not affect muscle mass or function.
You may have noticed a bit of an explosion of gluten-free offerings on your grocery store shelves. Some may call it a trend, but over the last 70 years there’s been a steady increase in the number of people who don’t tolerate gluten or other grain proteins. People with a sensitivity, intolerance or full-on Celiac disease experience any combination of brain fog, inflammation, fatigue, joint pain, and gut issues – and they tend to resolve simply by avoiding grains.
Of the 28 participants enrolled in the study, 21 completed the 16 weeks of follow-up. Reasons for discontinuing the study included unable to adhere to study meetings and unable to adhere to the diet; no participant reported discontinuing as a result of adverse effects associated with the intervention. All but one of the 21 participants were men; 62% (n = 13) were Caucasian, 38% (n = 8) were African-American (Table (Table1).1). The mean age was 56.0 ± 7.9 years.
Either there are very few participants in the studies, they don’t have an even number of males vs. females, or they don’t last but a few months. One study only looked at 28 people; only 21 completed the study and 20 of these participants were men. On top of this, they were only followed for 16 weeks. Okay, so we see that 20 men can limit their carbohydrates severely for 4 months and lose weight which automatically makes their A1c come down. Great! So, the real question is, how long can these 20 men stay on this diet for the rest of their lives? How long would you like to go without eating any fresh fruit? I’m craving some now, so I’m taking a break to go grab a snack now!
^ Freeman JM, Vining EP, Pillas DJ, Pyzik PL, Casey JC, Kelly LM. The efficacy of the ketogenic diet—1998: a prospective evaluation of intervention in 150 children. Pediatrics. 1998 Dec;102(6):1358–63. doi:10.1542/peds.102.6.1358. PMID 9832569. https://web.archive.org/web/20040629224858/http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/press/1998/DECEMBER/981207.HTM Lay summary]—JHMI Office of Communications and Public Affairs. Updated 7 December 1998. Cited 6 March 2008.
Over 8–10 mmol/l: It’s normally impossible to get to this level just by eating a keto diet. It means that something is wrong. The most common cause by far is type 1 diabetes, with severe lack of insulin. Symptoms include feeling very sick with nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and confusion. The possible end result, ketoacidosis, may be fatal and requires immediate medical care. Learn more