Get Fit
Before Summer

With Anais Zanotti

What happens when you go on a ketogenic diet?

Ketogenic diets are high-fat and low carb diets also known as fad diets or Atkins diet. These diets consist of mostly high-fat animal-based protein and cut out all the carbohydrates. No grains, no high carb vegetables like potatoes, not even legumes, and no fruits. Can this be healthy?  

People seem to lose weight on ketogenic diets and it’s even recommended as a treatment for diabetes. In this article, we will have a deep look into what really happens in your body on a ketogenic diet. Including if it’s suitable for diabetics or sustainable weight loss and more.

Ketogenic diets and diabetes

Diabetes manifests as a carbohydrate intolerance so cutting down all carbohydrates from your diet seems like a logical solution. Plus if you’re eating mostly fat your blood sugar stays low which makes it seem like you reversed Diabetes.

Well, the truth is eating a ketogenic diet when you have Diabetes is just like throwing fuel into the fire. In reality, studies reveal that a ketogenic diet actually worsens carbohydrate intolerance. You are treating the symptoms of high blood sugar while intensifying the actual underlying disease of diabetes: Carbohydrate Intolerance.

Only when you can take patients off their insulin and they can eat a normal diet again including carbohydrates then you can say their diabetes type 2 is cured. However, this is not possible after having a patient on a ketogenic diet. The reason for that is that the patients are still not able to process carbohydrates. An actual diet to reverse diabetes type 2 consists of approximal 300 carbohydrates a day and in a matter of weeks, patients can process carbohydrates without the help of insulin.

This is not the only problem why a ketogenic diet can be life-threatening for diabetics. Another symptom of diabetes is nerve and artery damage due to the high amount of methylglyoxal that forms at high blood sugar levels. Methylglyoxal is a toxin that is highly inflammatory and causes many diseases from kidney diseases, stroke, and Alzheimer’s. The problem is on a ketogenic diet is that your body produces Acetone which oxidates to alcohol (Acetol) and finally forms methylglyoxal which is why researches found more methylglyoxal in the blood of people that are on a ketogenic diet. The point is eating a ketogenic diet as a diabetic is a secure way to die.

Ketogenic Diet and Weight Loss

 

On a ketogenic diet, you will lose weight in the beginning. First, you step on the scale and you will have the impression that the ketogenic diet is working its magic.

But losing weight doesn’t necessarily mean you are losing body fat and a calorie is not just a calorie.

 Well here’s the thing; on a ketogenic diet, the kilos or pounds you lose are mostly lean muscle mass, protein, and water. 

Ketogenic diets are a scam! It gives you the illusion that it works. So when you gain your kilos back you feel bad about yourself and try keto again. It is a toxic cycle, you lose weight rapidly which is mostly water and muscles in the first 2 weeks but then when metabolism slows down simply because ketogenic diets slow down metabolism and loss of body fat, you put all that weight back on, feeling guilty about yourself, and because the keto diet worked so well in the beginning, you do it again and the cycle repeats.

Let’s compare a low-carb diet with a low-fat diet. On a low-carb diet cut out 800 calories of carbohydrates a day and you will lose 53 grams of body fat. Meanwhile, on a low-fat diet cutting down the same amount of fat calories, you lose 89 grams a day. 80 % more fat loss cutting down on fat instead of carbohydrates.

Ketogenic diets, muscle growth, and bone density

As already mentioned before, on a ketogenic diet you will lose muscle mass. Needless to say that if you want to grow muscle mass a ketogenic diet is not going to help you. The opposite is the case! If you do strength training on a ketogenic diet instead of gaining muscle you are going to lose muscles.

In a study they had men doing 8 weeks of strength training – deadlifts, squats, bench press, pull-ups. The non-ketogenic dieters gained 3 pounds of muscles per week while men on a ketogenic diet lost 3.5 ounces of muscles.

As if that’s not enough evidence to stay away from ketogenic diets as an athlete or generally a person that wants to gain muscle and stay fit there’s more! The state of Ketosis is related to increased fatigue and mood disturbance during workouts. In conclusion, ketogenic diets make you unfit and unhealthy. 

Ketogenic diet and bone density

Ketogenic diets put your body in a ‘chronic acidotic state’ because Ketones are very acidic. This causes decreased bone mass and other diseases linked to the acidity of ketones and too much fat in the blood like bone fracture, kidney stones, and pancreatitis. There was even a truly sad case of a child dying on a ketogenic diet because she developed Pancreatitis as a result of too much fat in her blood.

What is an alternative to a ketogenic diet?

It doesn’t matter what your goals are; losing weight, gaining muscle mass, treating chronic diseases like diabetes mellitus, or just eating healthy. It all comes back to a plant-based whole-food diet. Animal products are very acidic, high in fat and cholesterol, and never healthy not even in small portions. Processed food often contains added sugar, added salt, and is not healthy either. It is best to stay away from this kind of food. Instead, get a variety of macro – and micronutrients from a variety of plant-based non-processed food groups; fruits, grains, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes, etc.

About this big conspiracy. “Carbohydrates make you fat.” “You need protein to build muscles.” I have to admit that there’s some truth to it. However, the big truth is that the human body also uses carbohydrates to build proteins. That’s why cutting down on carbohydrates adverse muscle growth.

And remember carbohydrates are not just carbohydrates. Refined sugars from sweets and other processed foods are never healthy and yes it will make you ‘fat’. Whole grains and fruits however are other sources of carbohydrates and these are essential for your body. Grains are full of carbohydrates, protein, dietary fiber, and a wide range of vitamins and minerals, including folate, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin E, and iron. Fruits are a good source of vitamins, including vitamin C and folate. Fruit also provides potassium, dietary fiber, and carbohydrates in the form of natural sugars. And if your goal is to lose weight you want to eat as much fiber as possible. Fiber gives your stomach a feeling of fullness and is, therefore, perfect to stop cravings and binge eating.

For more information about the healthiest diet, how to treat chronic diseases with a healthy diet and the risk of ketogenic diets and animal products diets visit nutritionfacts.org