As a food activist Samara Sonmor thinks a lot about what she eats.
She had followed plans that scrubbed sugar and flour while looking for ways to stay healthy when she entered the menopause. She had "added a few pounds."
Sonmor, CEO of the Food Action Society of North Okanagan, began to look at all carbohydrates differently and it led her to the ketogenic diet.
"I became interested in keto because of the way people talked about it, it was a way of eating instead of a diet. It's a lifestyle change, not a dish," she said. "Strong keto is for weight loss. Lazy keto and other variations are my style, as focus is on health as opposed to weight loss."
The first three weeks were a "terrible experience" with intense carbohydrate needs. For all its problems, it didn't seem to work.
"So one day my pants fell on work," she said. In six months, she lost 40 pounds and six pants.
"I haven't really relieved me," said Vancouver author Katherine Brodsky. "I went" full keto "because I didn't know if it would work otherwise."
While her friends experienced weight loss and improved energy, she didn't feel much difference and took her foot out of the gas.
"I realized that even though I see the benefits, I wouldn't care about that because I appreciate many of the foods you need to cut as part of what makes my life enjoyable," she said. "A good diet is one that does not cause you to quickly fall away from the cart.
"That said, I have tried to avoid eating as much of the foods that are banned on keto and I see oils differently. For example, avocado and grass food are really valuable nutrients."
What are we talking about?
The interest in low-carb diets struck in the 1990s with the Atkins diet, continued at the turn of the century as a South Beach diet, before morphing into the romantic notion of eating as a paleolithic caveman around 2012. The ketogenic diet is the latest and Most extreme of the party, but it's not stunting its popularity a bit. To better explain things, we have received help from the registered dietitian Alex Inman from Vancouver Dietitians and UBC Okanagan Prof. Jonathan Little, studying human metabolism and diabetes as it pertains to diet.
Where did the ketogenic diet come from?
Combined in the 1920s as a way to treat children with seizure disorders, the ketogenic diet is intended to change the fuel your body burns from glucose to fat-derived ketones. The fat burning phase is called ketosis and results from limiting protein and carbohydrates to as little as 10 percent of your calories and eating about 90 percent fat, Little said. It reduces the number of seizures in some people with epilepsy because brain cells work differently when burning ketones.
What is the modern ketogenic diet?
The fat-protein-carb ratio varies depending on who you are talking to. Some dieticians recommend up to 80 percent of the calories from fat and as little as five percent carbohydrates, 25 grams per day, max. 60 to 70 percent fat and more than 50 grams of carbohydrate, what he calls a "nutritional" or "whole-food" ketogenic diet. They typically see elevated ketone levels, but do not spend much time in ketosis if ever.
"You may need to produce some ketones, and your muscles, heart and brain may use them, but it especially helps people maintain low levels of insulin and a higher degree of fat oxidation," Little said. Keeping insulin down prevents the body from storing energy as fat.
"Most people just enjoy cutting out added sugars, refined grains and virtually all packaged junk foods, so it's probably not the ketogenic part of the diet that drives the benefits," he said.
Listen to Alex Inman: How hard is the Keto diet?https://postmediavancouversun2.files.wordpress.com/2018/11/keto_alex_edited.mp3
Registered dietician Alex Inman talks about the challenges of ketogenic diet.
What is allowed?
It sounds a little sexy first. You get meat, fats, eggs, seeds, berries, low fat dairy and cheese, fish, chicken, butter and salad with full fat dressing. You can also eat tofu if you use it. Learn to like avocados as you need to use the fiber to avoid constipation.
"It's very fat and then you need to add fat. Don't just drink milk, you need heavy cream, add extra oil to your food, the fatty meat, oily fish, eggs, those kinds of stuff," Inman said. "It's very little carbohydrate, and you really need to control the amount of protein you eat, too much will kick you out of ketosis."
What is not allowed?
This list is less sexy. You do not eat bread, pasta, cereals and wooden fruits. Forget about potatoes – fries and chips too – and even the yummy yams that your paleo friends are going to feast on. No more sugar, honey or agave, so cookies, cake and sweets are all out.
There is no evidence that alcohol is incompatible with ketogenic diet, but beer and beverages mixed with pop or juice should probably be avoided.
Who can benefit?
People with seizure disorders, of course, but also some forms of cancer and type 2 diabetes. People taking insulin for diabetes are likely to benefit from a low-carb or ketogenic diet.
"You have to do this with the help of a doctor because you will have to change these drugs, usually reduce or eliminate them," Little said.
Are there other benefits?
Certain ketones may have a beneficial hormone-like effect in the body, according to Little.
"The main ketone that circulates is beta-hydroxybutyrate, which has been shown to have potential anti-inflammatory and antioxidant signaling roles," he said. "So it may seem like a hormone that tells immune cells and other cells in our body to calm down, be less inflamed and produce less reactive oxygen species.
"Almost every disease you look at involves inflammation and increased oxidation," he said.
Is keto a long-term solution?
Almost everyone will experience weight loss in the short term, which may be why otherwise healthy people try it. Inman notes that people also credit the ketogenic diet with appetite suppression, improve mental focus and energy, reduce anxiety, lower high blood pressure, cure acne, cholesterol control and "everything under the sun." It's a suspiciously long list of miracles.
"The research is really not there to support keto to do all these things, except improved blood glucose control and weight loss," Inman said. "But when you follow up a year later, they don't stay better. It could be that the diet is so restrictive that people can't hold it for so long."
Who should avoid the keto diet?
Children on keto show poor growth and stunting, low bone density and increased risk of fracture. Women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant should be discouraged by trying keto as well, Inman said.
If you really want to try the keto diet, do it under the guidance of a dietician and get your doctor to sign it too. It requires planning and profound knowledge to achieve and maintain ketosis. Without a considered plan, you can experience calcium and vitamin D deficiencies and electrolyte disturbances in potassium, sodium and magnesium. Constipation and diarrhea are common and you may experience loss of muscle mass and increase the risk of kidney stones.
"Many people don't have much food knowledge or know where the carbohydrates are in their food, so it's really hard for them to follow the keto," Inman said.
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What about my brain?
"Children who do not respond to seizures often switch to a ketogenic diet and that will often help them," Inman said. "There is no blanket idea that everyone wants more clarity or have better focus or mood on keto, but for some people, maybe." Changing the brain fuel to some people "may not be a good thing, and for others it won't make any difference at all."
If you enter ketosis, all of your cells will notice the change in fuel, and many people experience "keto flu" during this process, which may mean headache, fatigue, nausea and confusion.
The last word is acetone
If you achieve ketosis, your friends and family may suffer from ketone burning by-products, one of which is acetone, which is often used as a solvent and paint thinner. It smells bad and you can too. A warning from the keto enthusiast's companion: "Keto is the only diet you don't need to tell people you're on. You can smell it. The ketones that are exhaled are not comfortable in a work environment or your home. point blank, of course – in bed. I have accompanied a serial diet for 26 years of fads. Keto is hands down my least favorite to be around. "
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