Ketogenic diets: are they all they claim to be?

Ketogenic Diets: are they all they claim to be?

Diets for weight loss have been around since the dawn of time; and the latest one gaining popularity is the ketogenic diet. If you haven’t heard about this diet; it basically involves reduction or restriction of carbohydrates, having moderate protein and a high fat intake. The idea is that when the body is deprived of glucose, metabolic changes occur and the body starts to use ketone bodies as an energy source. This usually results in weight loss.

A typical ketogenic meal would include eggs, some sort of animal protein or tempeh or nuts and seeds (for vegetarians/vegans). Food is usually cooked in butter or coconut oil, and liberal olive oil is used in salads. A well planned keto diet restricts protein to 1gram per kg of body weight and allows moderate fat intake, as well as a high intake of a variety of vegetables. The high fat content makes food taste good and creates a feeling of fullness, which stops hunger pains and craving between meals.

So What’s in it for Me?

When embarking on a ketogenic diet, common short term side effects may include: headache, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, constipation, poor exercise tolerance and dizziness. This is usually short lived whilst the body gets used to the changes in the diet.

As well as weight loss, there are a number of positive health benefits. These include improved HDL levels (good healthy fats) and increased insulin sensitivity. So ketogenic diets can be really helpful for people who have the following conditions:

·         Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

·         Type 2 diabetes (non-insulin dependent)

·         Metabolic syndrome or commonly known as Insulin Resistance

·         Mildly elevated total cholesterol

 Positive benefits can be seen if the diet is implemented for about 6-12 months. After that, I don’t believe that it is sustainable for the following reasons:

Long term side effects:

  • Kidney stones can form when the kidneys are required to breakdown the by-products of fat and protein digestion for too long.
  • Impaired microbiome: elimination of certain starches and grains deprives the gut of important fibre and many vitamins; and also starves many vital strains of beneficial bacteria. When the microbiome becomes disturbed, symptoms such as mood swings, low energy, impaired digestion and poor immune function may occur.
  • Acidity: Ketone bodies are highly acidic to the body. Whilst our body can buffer low pH (high acid) to some degree, the extra load draws important minerals from the bones and muscles to keep up with the demand, resulting in nutrient deficiencies. Mood changes, aching joints and skin problems may also occur.
  • High cholesterol: whilst healthy HDL production occurs during short term ketogenic diets, unhealthy LDL levels occur in the long term from the high fat intake. This increases the risk of fatty liver disease, heart attack, stroke and even cancer.


DO NOT embark on a ketogenic diet if you have:

·An underactive thyroid gland. To these patients, a low carb diet sounds just the thing for reducing those extra kilos. But it actually does the opposite! Carbohydrate restriction impairs T3 production and increases rT3, thereby reducing energy production and metabolic rate.

·Insulin dependent diabetes: On this diet, you would need strict supervision and your insulin levels closely monitored to prevent a hypoglycaemic episode. Not for amateurs!

·Pancreatitis: an inflamed pancreas may be poorly equipped to handle the fluctuations in the body.

·Fatty Liver Disease: your liver is not equipped to take on the extra burden of a high fat intake. In fact, if you have any form of liver disease, it’s best you avoid this diet. A low dietary fat intake is a lot safer.


So there you have it; a few basics on the latest weight loss method. If you are considering a healthier eating plan, or want to know whether the Ketogenic diet is for you, reach out and book a free 15 minute discover call. Let’s work together to get you feeling 10 years younger!

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