The Ketogenic Diet
My understanding is that the ketogenic diet is an exciting diet for its potential applications for epilepsy, potentially some cancers and neurological health.
This is based on what I have heard, read and seen from people who truly specialise in this field.
However, the support for the ketogenic as a weight loss approach seems to be weak and no better than any other method that creates an energy deficit.
The ketogenic diet itself is very high fat, moderate protein and very low carbohydrate, quite different to the typical Western diet is high carbohydrate, moderate protein and moderate fat.
So what differentiates ketogenic from a low carb diet?
Protein intake is lower on the ketogenic diet and the primary goal is to restrict carbohydrates to produce ketone bodies.
The brain primarily uses glucose for fuel but when glucose is reduced the body synthesises ketone bodies that can cross the blood-brain barrier and provide an alternative fuel source for the brain.
The carry over to weight loss is that if carbohydrate intake is reduced, fat becomes the predominant energy source.
The use of these ketone pathways is the focus of interesting research but the applications of ketosis for weight loss has not been demonstrated to be superior to a calorie deficit from any other nutrition strategy.
The presence of ketones in the bloodstream requires monitoring and management because of the risk of ketoacidosis.
For most people who are wanting to lose weight, they don’t want to also have to monitor the ketone levels on top of altering the nutrition intake.
The ketogenic diet is not a nutritional strategy I have ever used with my clients.
I am not convinced of the benefits compared to any other diet and cannot see adherence benefits that exceed any other nutrition approach.
Besides, if someone doesn’t want to track their calories, what are the chances they will monitor the ketone levels?