Updated: Jan 3, 2019
What is the Keto Diet?
You can't own a smartphone in today's age without scrolling through your favourite social platforms and running into some form of advertising. If you find you've ever searched for anything food related on your browser, odds are you're getting ads where the subject is related to the Ketogenic (Keto) diet. For starters, you might be asking, "What is the Keto Diet?" The simple, short version answer to this is it is a low carb high protein diet, similar to that of the Atkin's diet which spanned in popularity from the 1960's through the 1990's. To dive into a little more information, I've sourced the definition of the keto diet from Journal of Child Neurology which says that the keto diet is,
"The ketogenic diet is a non-drug therapy that is available to treat many types of epilepsy. It works by maintaining ketosis. The individual is gradually introduced to a diet that is high in fat and contains just enough protein to maintain adequate growth (1 g/kg of body weight) and a small amount of carbohydrates. The classic diet nutritional composition is expressed in a ratio of grams of fat to grams of protein and carbohydrate, usually starting with a 4:1 ratio. This means that 90% of the patient's dietary calories will be derived from fat and protein."
The Ketogenic diet was first brought to the public eye by NBC Dateline special in 1994 called, "The Ketogenic Diet." Storm Phillips brought the saga of Jim Abrahams with his son Charlie into millions of living rooms across the country. The successful treatment of Charlie’s intractable seizure disorder with the Johns Hopkins Hospital version of the ketogenic diet was a dramatic and heart-touching story. To this day, the keto diet is one of the best non-drug therapies for epilepsy and other neurological disorders. Due to the lack of convenience surrounding a massive lifestyle change, antiepileptic drugs were normalized and became the more popular option for patients with epilepsy, especially children. It is a lot easier to swallow 1 pill, than to restrict dietary intake and to require planning ahead of every meal.
Does the Keto Diet Work?
So the Ketogenic Diet has been used to treat epilepsy in sensitive patients such as children for years, but how did this join the frontlines of fad diets for weight loss? While the role of very-low-carbohydrate ketogenic diets (VLCKD) in the long-term management of obesity is not well established, there is a fair bit of research displaying some of the potential benefits that a Ketogenic diet could have for long term weight loss and weight management in general population. A Meta-analysis published by the British Journal of Nutrition showed that individuals that were assigned to a VLCKD (Very Low Carbohydrate Ketogenic Diet) achieve a greater weight loss than those assigned to a LFD (Low fat Diet) in the long term; hence, a VLCKD may be an alternative tool against obesity. In fact, individuals experienced decreased body weight, diastolic blood pressure, Triacylglycerides (TAG), while also showing increased HDL-C and LDL.
So all the evidence is there, this diet must work, but does it work for everyone? A Meta-analysis published by the journal of obesity showing that interventions of diet alone, regardless of the type of dietary intervention, are significantly less effective on long-term weight loss and that calorically restricted diets combined with regular physical activity provide the most ideal circumstances for long-term weight loss results and maintenance. However, there is a lot of promising research in the field of brain injury and the ketogenic diet as a successful form of nutritional therapy. Scientists have been able to draw a connection between concussions and a decreased ability to break down and absorb dietary carbohydrates, and increased ability to use fats and proteins as a source of energy. Therefore, making diets such as the ketogenic diet seem far more favourable for those affected by brain injuries (such as concussions).
Are you currently subscribing to the keto diet? as always I'd love to hear your thoughts on this piece! Feel free to leave a comment, subscribe to email notifications for more fun posts, and keep in touch via social! Till next time,