Fortunately, more and more people agree with the importance of healthy, balanced nutrition and decide to modify their lifestyles.
However, many of them will be uncertain when they sit down in front of the computer and start to use the Internet. There are numerous dietary trends, and they often radically contradict each other. It's so hard to navigate through the trends. Here's an example: the ketogenic diet, is it good for you or is it a health risk?
The concept of healthy eating is very different according to the guidelines of official health institutes (e.g. WHO, USDA) and ketogenic diet trends.
In official recommendations, there is a relatively large role of healthy sources of carbohydrates (such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy products). In Western diet, the primary source of energy is glucose.
Opposite to this
ketogenic diets advocate free consumption of fats and as much meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products as you like. Meanwhile, the consumption of carbohydrates is severely restricted. The diet prohibits or limits eating of vegetables, fruits, and grains that can contain significant amounts of starch or sugars.
The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, moderate protein, low-carb diet.
Typically, 20-30 (maximum 50) grams of carbs is recommended to followers of diet, and the vast majority of calories (65-75%) come from fat.
What's the point?
Fans of ketogenic diet mainly choose this lifestyle to lose weight, it’s perhaps easier because of the lack of appetite.
Severely restricting carbohydrates can result in a process called ketosis. When glycogen stores have been depleted, the body starts to use fat and muscle for energy, and the body produces substances called ketones. Such ketotic state develops during the induction phase of the Atkins diet or paleo-ketogenic diet. In this state, ketones contribute to suppress the appetite and eating fewer calories.
Comparative studies found that people on the low-carbohydrate diet had lost more weight than others on the conventional weight loss diet at 3 months and 6 months. But after 12 months, there is no difference in the success rate.
What could be the reason?
At the beginning of the low carbohydrate diet, the body uses the stored glycogen. Glycogen is bound to water in the body and this water is eliminated as the glycogen is used up. This means that the initial dramatic weight loss is largely due to water loss, not fat loss.
Now, you might think: does it help me lose weight? I begin it!
If you are thinking in short-term, a few months period, and the initial success gives you strength, you may consider the ketogenic diet.
But in long-term, I would not suggest this lifestyle for you, because this extreme diet involves a number of side effects.
Please don't start it (especially without medical consultation and supervision) if you have any health problem! It is also prohibited to keep your child on this diet, unless it is justified by a special medical condition (ketogenic diet may be used to help treat some neurological status, e.g. epilepsy).
If you suddenly and drastically cut carbs, you may experience a variety of temporary health effects, including:
- Bad breath
The lack of carbohydrate foods or dairy (in paleo-ketogenic version) means that plant-derived vitamins, minerals and fibre as well as substances like flavonoids, carotenoids and other antioxidants, are also lacking in the diet, and because of this and the predominance of fat (particularly saturated fat) and protein, there is a danger that you risk heart disease, kidney damage, osteoporosis, or certain cancers (especially colorectal carcinoma) may actually increase. Actually, most research studies from low-carbohydrate diet have lasted less than a year.
The diet has some "more concrete", short-time side effects.
Constipation is one of these, and the other potential risks of diet: food becomes one-sided and boring. Although lack of choice may be a major reason why people eat less, it is also a major reason why they give up. Furthermore, having a high blood ketone level was significantly associated with increased feeling of fatigue, so low carbohydrate diets could reduce the desire to exercise.
In my opinion, low-carbohydrate diets for weight loss is not ideal, the disadvantages outweigh the benefits.
There are many other healthy ways to lose weight.
Not all carbs are evil, the trouble comes from refined grains and simple sugars, if you want to lose weight or avoid obesity, moderate them, and in general, in diet and in lifestyle, follow the principle of moderation.