The ketogenic (or keto) diet was developed in the 1920s to reduce seizures in children and then for patients with Vivo’s disease and Alzheimer’s. This diet, similar to that of the Inuit, is very fashionable these days. What is it and is it so good for everyone’s health?
This diet has a good protein intake, reduced carbohydrates and increased fat. Usually, the body uses carbohydrates for energy. After glucose, the brain takes in ketones as a necessary second fuel. By depriving it of carbohydrates, the body draws its energy from fat. The body searches fatty tissue for fat that the liver converts into ketone bodies. These are used as fuel by neurons.
Benefits of the Keto Diet
The benefits of this diet are: reduction of dairy products and fast carbohydrates. Sweets are prohibited, but 85% chocolate (no or little sweetness) is allowed in small quantities. This ketogenic diet leads to weight loss and energy boost. It can help reduce migraines, improve diabetes, improve cardiovascular health or improve cholesterol levels (the fats should be of excellent quality). That said, we still lack perspective to know the real advantages and disadvantages of this particular diet.
During the first few weeks, some side effects such as the ketogenic flu may appear. Other possible effects: nausea, vomiting, fatigue, rash, muscle cramps, general weakness, or constipation and headache due to metabolic acidosis or nutritional deficiencies.
Downsides of Keto Diet
Although the ketogenic diet may improve athletic performance, recovery while making exertion easier, it would be counterproductive for heavy athletes, especially their bones. Note also that carbohydrates are important because they provide essential fuel for the brain and central nervous system while meeting energy demand, regardless of the intensity of the activity performed. This diet can be used as an adjunct in the fight against cancer. This is because tumors use glucose as a nutrient. But, according to Dr. Jean-Paul Curtay, cancer cells favor fatty acids as nutrients too. In addition, a diet high in fat and animal protein is pro-inflammatory. Eating more meat increases inflammation, especially in the colon.
Many foods belonging to grains, legumes and fruits (except avocado) are excluded which can lead to deficiencies in fiber, vitamins, antioxidants or minerals. Food supplementation may be necessary. Make sure you get enough magnesium, calcium and potassium, and get enough fiber while drinking plenty of water.
Finally, this type of diet is not suitable for everyone and may help in some cases. It is important to be accompanied by a practitioner of global health and especially by a doctor.
Katia B. Lucas, N.D.
Chang, C.K., Borer, K., & Lin, P.J, “Low-Carbohydrate-High-Fat Diet: Can it Help Exercise Performance?”, Journal of Human Kinetics, 2017, 12 (56), 81–92.
CHUSJ, Ketogenic Diet, “Definitions”, Lurie, Ann, Robert H., Children’s Hospital of Chicago, <https://www.chusj.org/fr/soins-services/D/Diete-cetogene/L-aventure-cetogene -la-theorie / Definition>, June 15, 2016, update June 16, 2016, accessed August 12, 2020.
“What is the ketogenic diet? », Health Canada, <https://www.canada.ca/fr/ministere-defense-nationale/ organizations/rapports-publications/sante/qu-est-ce-que-la-diete-cetogene.html>, consulted August 12, 2020.
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