Posted on May 14 2020
Time to Read: 8 Minutes
Ketogenic diet's gained popularity as proving to be beneficial in kids with epilepsy. It is basically a pattern of eat where you are consuming around 70% of your calories from fats, 20% from proteins and roughly 10% calories coming in from carbs.
Ideally, the brain uses about quarter pound of sugar per day just to stay functioning. Sugar, is what we get when we consume carbohydrates. If for some reason you stopped consuming carbs, the brain won't have a choice but to breakdown proteins instead to convert to sugars. If this happened, within just a few weeks, your body would eat itself and die. But what about people who fast for prolonged periods? How do they survive without being catabolised (eaten up by themselves). When scientists probed electrodes into the brains of participants who practiced in prolonged fasting, they discovered that the body remarkably started using fat as a primary source of fuel to be broken down and converted to glucose instead of proteins. But while under these extremely stressful conditions the body is burning fat as a primary source of fuel, people on keto diet's are also feeding themselves with more fat than normal. It is like pumping gas in the car where there is a leak from the rear end. No better than Dr. Gregor explains this phenomenon in his book 'How not to Diet'. While I cover a lot of what he wrote on this blog, for more information, I insist you read the book.
A few years later though, when epilepsy drugs started being invented, keto diet's went out of practice. Though helping with epilepsy, fat's were not the body's naturally preferred fuel source and came with a variety of side effects such as raised cholesterol, heart diseases and even death. Cigarette smoking also helps with fat loss by triggering the hormone AMPK (body's natural fat burner), but who in their right mind would like to lose weight and trade in lung cancer instead? Chemotherapy also helps with fat loss, but would you get weekly chemo sessions and compromise your immunity to lose weight? They why keto?
HOWEVER, most of the side- effects with keto diet is due to increased intake of animal fat and trans fat. What if you tried vegan keto instead? What if your primary source of fat's came from healthy nuts, seeds, avocados and coconut oil? How would it be different?
Ask yourself- why keto? There are only two answer's- 'rapid fat loss' OR 'you think it is healthy'
1) Let's tackle the first issue here- Want to lose weight fat.
You want to lose weight fast and you heard from a friend of a friend that Keto diet work. When put to test, they do actually work- at least if you are just measuring the number on the scale. KEEP READING THOUGH.
Gary Taubes (huge promoter of keto diet) in 2012 attracted $40 million dollars to fund a study with seventeen overweight men. The participants were divided in two groups with one on a high- card diet vs one on a high- fat diet. The number of calories they were given per day remained exactly the same. Thus, if a calories is just a calorie, there should technically be not much of a difference in the amount of fat they lost over the period of the study.
Within just a week though, the participants in the keto group lost 3.5 pounds on the scale vs the participants in the high- carb group. This is great, right?
But when further tested, the participants on the keto group only lost water weight and lean body mass (muscles). If anything, their metabolism slowed down and they started storing fat. Eating high fat releases keton's into the blood stream. The kidneys try to flush these ketons out through the urine, making sure you pee often and lose water. This is what was showing p on the scale. It is similar to getting diarrhoea. You lose a few kilo's when sick but as soon as you get healthy, all that weight will come back.
If your fitness trainer suggests you keto, please understand the fitness industry runs on repeated business from clients. Showing how the weight on the scale has gone down in a week, you are likely to continue again with her/ him.
Due to hormonal imbalance caused by not having carbs (bodies preferred fuel to burn for energy), you will have more cravings and end up eating something high carb sooner or later. This has nothing to do with your will power or control, but to do with hormones. Would you blame a pregnant women for having cravings and then mock her for not having control over her cravings? Same thing happens to someone on keto. Your body is demanding carbs to function and eating something will restore the normal functioning of the body, thus your body will not flush out as much water and the weight on the scale will go back to normal. Your trainer or you yourself will then blame you for not sticking to the diet. That's not fair since you did not lose fat in the first place! it takes weeks for the body to gain or lose 'fat', doesn't happen overnight like water loss.
Not to mention, because you are not consuming carbs, the body also starts breaking down muscle's to feed itself. Lean muscle mass takes time and patience to build. it is not as easy as fat loss. It is however an asset though. Muscles need more calories to maintain themselves. Having more muscle mass means having a higher metabolism- meaning, you could eat more food and not gain weight vs someone else of your weight. Everyone knows a friend who can eat anything and get away with it, they have a higher metabolism. By breaking and wasting muscle mass to feed the body due to not eating enough carbs, you are dropping your metabolism making it harder for you to lose fat even in the future.
Researchers put participants on an 800 calorie deficit coming from either carbs or fat and found that people who dropped 800 calories from their diet coming only from fat lost twice as much weight then people who dropped the exact same calories from carbs.
Even if you are following a vegan keto diet, you might not clog your blood vessels as with someone eating animal proteins, but you still won't lose fat as fast as if you follow a whole- food plant- based diet. So when it comes to fat- loss, keto is NOT the way to go.
If you are a fitness trainer/ coach/ dietitian reading this, please understand that your short term gimmik strategy to gain business by showing water- loss in clients and calling it fat- loss, leaves a psychological scar on the client's mind forever. They might land with an eating disorder, have feelings of guilt whenever they are around food and even develop body- image issues. You decided to take this profession to help people, stand above the crowd and do the right thing!
2) You think it is healthy for you.
Low- carb diet can adversely affect carb- intolerance in the body. Even having one high- fat meal can reduce insulin sensitivity. This basically means that constantly putting your body under pressure of not having enough carbs can induce diabetes.
Check this study below:
Keto promoters though claim that keto diet can reverse diabetes. How can that be possible? Well by reverse all they mean is to control the symptoms. Diabetes is characterised by excessive sugar in the blood stream. But when one does not consume carbs itself, there is no intake of sugar and thus, when someone on a keto diet is measured for blood sugar level's there is no sugar detected. This is merely painting your dried up garden grass green and claiming it is healthy, instead of treating the root cause which could be lack of nurturing. Read the point about molecular mimicary to understand what really does on in the body of a diabetic in this blog to understand more:
Milk- is it slowly poisoning you?
But really, are there any health benefits to a vegan- keto diet?
There is one that I came across while researching for this blog. Check out this article. when compared to being on a traditional keto diet high in saturated fats, vegan keto proved to increase mortality. In lay man's term, you could marginally live longer on a vegan keto diet. The article did not however compare a vegan keto to a whole food plant- based diet so we really cannot say it is better to be on a vegan keto than a balanced diet. Unlike a traditional keto diet, vegan keto is also high in probiotics and gut friendly since nuts do have some pre- biotic effects on the body. You are also avoiding milk/ products that interfere with gut health.
Saturated fat's from animal products have a huge amount of dead bacteria which release endotoxins into the blood stream and cause inflammation. Granted plant- based fat's do not have the same effect.
However, cutting out an entire food group cannot be healthy for anyone even if you are still eating plant- based. Carbs have essential nutrients and fibre that aids in gut health and recovery. Coconuts and saturated oil's, even though they are plant- based fat options, are still bad for your cardio vascular health. Coconut oil in fact is as bad as butter is for you. Check out this well written piece of information on Forks over Knives webpage to understand more about coconut oil if you are interested.
By not planning your diet very very carefully, you could easily land with a Vit K/ C or other deficiencies. it is important to weigh your pro's and con's when deciding to make any major lifestyle change. Ask yourself, are you going to be able to go keto for the rest of your life? If you certainly know that you are picking something up only 'till a deadline' chances are you will go back to your starting line once you go back to your old habits post reaching the deadline. Only make changes that are sustainable, even if they are small one's.
Leave a comment below if you think otherwise or have any experience of yourself to add. I would love to hear a feedback from you.