Why The Keto Diet’s ‘High Fat Low Carbohydrate’ Approach Has Got Everyone Talking
Everyone’s talking about the keto diet these days. And with glowing recommendations from major stars and celebrities like Halle Berry, LeBron James, Kourtney Kardashian, Rihanna, Vinny Guadagnino and Tim Tebow, it’s no surprise that keto is in the limelight.
Want to see what all the fuss is about? Looking to lose weight? Perhaps you’re ready to try a 28-day keto challenge? Or perhaps you’re already a keto advocate simply on the lookout for delicious keto breads and desserts? Read on and satisfy your hunger!
So, what exactly is the keto diet? A ketogenic diet is high in fat and low in carbohydrates.
It focuses on weight loss through fat-burning. The aim is to obviously lose weight but also to ultimately feel full with less cravings and at the same time enhance your mood, increase your focus and boost your energy and vitality.
When you reduce your carbohydrate intake and fill up on fats instead, you enter what is known as a state of ketosis. This is when the body breaks down both dietary and stored body fat into substances called ketones. Your fat-burning system then relies mainly on fat, not glucose (carbs), for energy.
According to Tiffiny Poirier, a keto coach certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine, the Athletics and Fitness Association of America and the Canadian Fitness Professionals, there are two very simple reasons why the keto diet is so popular.
“The keto diet is effective at helping you lose weight while still being able to eat delicious food,” said Poirier. “The second reason is that you feel amazing when you are powered by ketones!”
Poirier tells THE FRANK GAZETTE that after you have learned these two very basic benefits and experience them for yourself, you start to realize that keto has many more other benefits to offer.
“There is a rising epidemic of obesity across the world,” said Poirier. “Along with this obesity comes an increase in metabolic diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and others. Not only is the Keto diet proving to prevent these diseases, but also reverse them or put them into remission.
“These health benefits can be experienced without medication. The keto diet reduces inflammation in the body which also prevents and helps in the treatment of autoimmune diseases. You can even help starve cancer cells since they thrive on glucose but not ketones. You can achieve so many health benefits just by changing the food you eat!”
According to educator, researcher and health consultant Dr. David G. Harper, who, along with Dale Drewery, wrote the book BioDiet, there has been an exponential increase in scientific research on ketogenic diets in the past 10 years.
“We are now seeing daily reports of the health benefits of the ketogenic diets from rigorous, robust research from some of the best scientists at the best institutions which is making its way to the general public,” Harper tells THE FRANK GAZETTE.
“Also, millions of people are now adopting ketogenic diets, mostly for the weight/fat loss benefits, and are also discovering the many other health benefits,” said Harper. “The Internet and social media have certainly helped as have some documentaries like The Magic Pill and, more recently, FAT.”
Pros vs. Cons
Nina Teicholz, author of The Big Fat Surprise, has followed a low-carb diet for nearly a decade and finds no problem adhering to it. In her blog post “Ketogenic Diet Myths vs. Facts”, Teicholz says that she lost weight and all her cardiovascular biomarkers improved.
“Moreover, I’ve studied the science and history behind low-carbohydrate diets, so beyond my personal experience, I bring an evidence-based perspective,” said Teicholz. “Previously, for more than 25 years, I adhered faithfully to a ‘mostly plants’ regimen of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, including my own homemade seven-grain bread, while exercising religiously. Yet during that time my blood lipids were unhealthy, and I never could shake an extra 10-20 pounds.”
Teicholz points out that she is not suggesting a ketogenic diet for all, but believes that the diet is clearly a safe and highly effective option for people, such as those with metabolic diseases like obesity, diabetes and heart disease, and therefore the diet should not be falsely portrayed as a dangerous fad.
For Harper the top advantages of the keto diet are its health benefits.
Harper calls his model for chronic disease the “Axis of Illness” which consists of the three key drivers of most chronic diseases: obesity, inflammation, and insulin resistance.
“These are all caused or aggravated by high carbohydrate diets in about 3/4 people that have some degree of faulty glucose metabolism,” said Harper. “Ketogenic diets reverse all three factors, and quite quickly.
“In addition, the ketones themselves have been shown to have many, additional, considerable health benefits. This means that if you adopt and sustain a well formulated ketogenic diet, like the BioDiet, you have a greatly reduced risk of chronic disease and we are now investigating the therapeutic benefits for dozens of conditions including cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and epilepsy.”
Poirier adheres to a keto diet because there is diabetes in her family. Diabetes is caused by insulin resistance. When the body is exposed to high levels of carbohydrates for an extended period of time, it stops responding to insulin.
“Then you either need to take medication with extra insulin, or medication that causes your cells to respond to insulin,” Poirier said. “Carbohydrates stimulate insulin where fat does not. So, if you swap carbs for healthy fats, very little insulin is required and your cells get a rest. This allows your body to heal and the diabetes will disappear or go into remission. If you don’t already have Type 2 diabetes, it will prevent it from happening. I have seen so many people get off all of their Type 2 diabetes drugs this way. It is amazing! Food is medicine.”
For Poirier the secondary but much more noticeable advantage of being on a keto diet is the fantastic energy and mental clarity that she experiences when she is in ketosis.
“Being a busy professional, and previously a busy mom on top of that, I need to always be ‘on’ and the keto diet acts like drinking energy drinks, but only healthy and better tasting!”
Harper points out that unlike other ‘diets’, keto is not a short-term, calorie-restricted regimen but rather it is intended to be a permanent change in lifestyle.
“That means that it requires considerable change which can be challenging for some,” said Harper. “There are also some short-term minor side effects during the adaptation phase that can be unpleasant, such as the so-called ‘keto flu’, but these can usually be easily managed with a good plan.”
Teicholz acknowledges that when starting the diet, some people do show symptoms such as fatigue, sore muscles and headaches. However, this doesn’t last long and is actually a sign that the diet is working, while the body transitions from burning glucose as fuel to burning fat. Teicholz says that often the side effects can be improved by drinking a few cups of bouillon broth until the change is finished.
For Poirier the biggest disadvantage of a keto diet is that keto is still misunderstood by many people, including some in the medical profession.
“This is not something that they are trained in and is not part of their approved protocols,” said Poirier. “While holistic medicine naturopathic doctors understand this way of eating and are trained in the practices, there are medical doctors who are only aware of this way of eating and the benefits if they have studied it on their own and tried it themselves.
“This way of eating literally takes everything that we have been told about how we should eat and flips it upside down. People who don’t take the time to learn how this way of eating works may end up depriving themselves of nutrients. People who have not read up on the techniques may think they are following a keto diet, but really are not, and then fail and blame the diet, telling others ‘it doesn’t work’.”
A sustainable weight-loss plan that’s long-term
Harper maintains that in the long run, a keto diet is definitely sustainable as a weight-loss plan.
“Good science has shown it to be the best,” said Harper. “I lost 27 pounds myself and have stayed at my new weight for more than seven years.”
Poirier believes that the keto diet is a forever lifestyle.
“Many people are incredibly healthy and have been eating this way for more than 10 years!” said Poirier. “Our bodies were made to burn fat. It is a natural ability that is in all of us. Babies are born in ketosis. Mother’s milk is high fat low carb.
“Think about our ancestors, back to the caveman days. I doubt they had a box of snacking crackers with them all day. They ate as much as they could when the food supply was high and they stored as much extra as they could in fat. When food was not as abundant, they lived for days and probably months off of their stored fat. We are meant to cycle through phases of feast and famine.”
Poirier points out that our society’s health has been decreasing at an alarming rate since we were given the guidance to eat a high carbohydrate diet.
“It is putting our bodies into a constant feast mode: a mode that tells our body to store fat, not burn it,” said Poirier. “Once we learn to stop trying to work against our body’s natural fat burning ability, life is so much easier!”
Teicholz emphasises that the keto diet does not limit calories so people can eat as much as they like as long as they restrict carbohydrates. So, if you’re on the keto diet you don’t have to endure long periods of feeling hungry which is why the diet tends to be sustainable.
Furthermore, Teicholz points out that various studies have shown that the keto diet may in fact be ideal for long term weight management, including one meta-analysis which found that individuals following very low-carbohydrate ketogenic diets lost more weight in one year than those on low-fat diets.
Role of exercise
Harper maintains that exercise is a good thing and encourages everyone to take regular exercise, although it is not a necessary component of the diet and correlates poorly to weight loss for most.
“It’s roughly 80 percent about diet and only 20 percent about exercise: you can’t outrun your fork!” said Harper. “In addition, much of the benefit of exercise at the cellular level is via the same mechanisms triggered by ketogenic diets and the ketones themselves.”
According to Poirier exercise is strongly connected to mental health, stress reduction and overall well-being.
“Stress can cause the body to want to hold on to weight, so decreasing stress will help with weight-loss,” said Poirier. “Exercise can help burn extra fat and increase your metabolism, but eating healthier food is far more effective at weight-loss than exercise alone.”
The reason why Poirier discovered the keto diet was because she was looking for a way to lose weight while recovering from a concussion.
“I had to rest my brain so I couldn’t work out,” said Poirier. “Prior to the keto diet, I was on a constant yo-yo diet cycle. Whenever my weight would creep up to my highest allowable acceptable weight, I would kick into diet mode. I would immediately start severely restricting my calories and working out feverishly five or six days a week for at least four weeks until the weight would be gone. It worked, but it wasn’t fun. Then, the weight would start to creep up again, and I would start the cycle all over again.
“I was desperate for a way to lose weight without exercise while my brain was healing, so I decided to try keto. I was completely shocked when I started losing weight with no exercise and with eating more calories than I usually ate! It was amazing to me how I could lose weight by eating different foods, rather than eating so much less food.”
Starting the keto diet for the first time
“Make sure you get good information that’s based on science,” said Harper. “Also, discuss with your physician before you start, especially if you suffer from chronic disease or are on any medications, and be prepared to commit for 12 weeks. At the very least, 100 percent of the people I’ve counselled say they feel great at the end of that time.”
If you’re starting the diet, patience is vital.
“Be patient and take the time to learn why keto works,” said Poirier, who has created a 7 Day Keto Challenge Bootcamp plan. “Learn how to make it work for you! There is a way to make this work for any lifestyle.”
No matter what angle you’re approaching the keto diet from, it’s clearly worth its weight!
© 2019 Bevan Frank and The Frank Gazette. All Rights Reserved.
- Disclaimer: People who are quoted in articles on this website do not necessarily endorse nor are necessarily associated with any of the products or services referred to or linked to in these articles.
- Click here to find out more about The Frank Gazette.
- FREE e-Book – Join The Frank Gazette mailing list and get your FREE e-Book on Brain Health, which includes vital information about how you can reduce your risk of cell phone usage and wireless waves on your brain.