Important: It is not recommended to follow a diet without first consulting a doctor. This rule is relevant not only to those who have identified the disease, but to everyone else.
Unlike most diets today, the goals of the ketogenic diet have been strictly medical from the beginning. They still remain on the agenda. Generally speaking, the word "diet" originally had nothing to do with weight loss. This word means a set of dietary rules that must be followed in a given situation - in the treatment of a particular disease, during postoperative therapy.The
Keto diet owes much of its renewed popularity to an American film producer whose child has long suffered from epilepsy. Despite numerous visits to the most famous and eminent neuropathologists who have tried, it seems, all the most effective antiepileptic drugs that exist in nature, the boy's condition has not improved at all. The almost desperate father read a lot of literature on the treatment of epilepsy in the local library and unexpectedly came across a description of a ketogenic diet that has not been recommended to him by any expert so far. He immediately put his son on this diet and to his great satisfaction discovered that the frequency of the boy’s seizures had decreased significantly.
Well, the ketogenic diet was invented to reduce the frequency of epileptic seizures - mostly in children. At the same time, there was no reduction in calories in the diet, only carbohydrates were replaced by fats. The children kept such a diet for 36 hours, and the frequency of their seizures decreased.
Currently, the ketogenic diet is used to treat not only epilepsy, but also Alzheimer's disease, fatty liver ("fatty liver"), and even some types of cancer. In general, the medical benefits of it are undeniable. What about weight loss?
Ketogenic diet is a diet that consists of a meal that contains a lot of fat (animal fats and some vegetable oils), animal proteins and very few carbohydrates, so that the breakdown of fat (content) meets about 80% of energy needsbody fat in the diet of the average European provides 30-35% of the energy needed by the body during the day). And similar to what happens during fasting, the breakdown of large amounts of fat leads to an increase in acidity in the body. This may probably explain why the use of such a dietary complex leads to a reduction in the frequency of epileptic seizures.
The goal of a ketogenic diet is to bring the body into ketosis.
Ketosis is a pathological condition of the body in which ketone bodies predominate in its tissues. The state of ketosis means that the body uses only the fat stored under the skin to cover energy needs, preventing muscle breakdown. While you are in ketosis, you will draw energy from ketones - carbonyl compounds that are formed by the breakdown of fats. Otherwise, ketones are an excellent source of energy for the brain, which almost ideally replaces glucose.
Another positive feature of ketosis is that in this condition you will practically not experience hunger, so you will eat less, which means that you will not fully cover your energy costs.
To bring the body into a state of ketosis, the diet is structured in such a way that fats clearly dominate the diet, moreover, predominantly saturated (the diet consists of 90% fat, based on calories).
In fact, the diet used by many professional bodybuilders in the last week before the competition can also be called ketogenic: it consists only of salmon (usually grilled, but you can also in another form), peanut butter and green vegetables (salad, broccoli, spinach, cabbage). It is even better to add flaxseed oil or walnut oil to such a diet. There is already a lot more protein here, which reduces the problems but doesn’t eliminate them completely.
Advantages and disadvantages of the classic ketogenic diet
Plus is that this diet is very effective, the diet works and how! The main thing is that you will practically not experience hunger, which means that it will be quite easy to transfer the calorie restriction in the diet. Ketones are a great source of energy for the brain.
It is also important that a ketogenic diet reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease due to a sharp decrease in insulin secretion. But for people who lead an active lifestyle, this plus can easily turn into a minus, because insulin is a powerful anti-catabolic agent. The decrease in insulin secretion is covered by the ability of the ketogenic diet to cause acidosis in the muscles, which means that proteolysis is enhanced, ie the breakdown of the body's own proteins is facilitated. And catabolism can spiral out of control. Not right away, of course, but for 3-4 days for sure.
It is simply impossible to follow the classic ketogenic diet for a long time - it starts vomiting in the most natural way. It is not in vain that for children suffering from epilepsy, the ketogenic diet was limited to a period of 36 hours.
The ketogenic diet is currently used in the treatment of several types of cancer. In particular, this is prostate cancer and the ability of the diet to reduce the production of IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor 1) is used here.
Another disadvantage is the reduction of free testosterone levels in the blood plasma.
The main danger of a keto diet is an increase in ketone levels in the blood, which reduces the acidity of the blood (pH) and in extreme cases can cause death. This condition is called "ketoacidosis". First of all, this applies to people with severe and moderate diabetes. If it is not there, you should not worry about it, because in the blood of healthy people there are as many ketones as the body can process them.
It takes time for the body to give up glucose and learn to nourish the brain with ketone bodies so that physical and mental activity can be reduced in the first week. The main symptoms are lethargy, dizziness and blurred consciousness.
Many people experience this condition extremely painfully and “get out of the race” literally the next day. But the health condition completely normalizes on the third or fifth day, when the body recovers.
Lack of fiber slows down bowel movements. The main point of a ketogenic diet is complete rejection of carbohydrates. Accordingly, the diet should consist of protein and fat, and fiber should be complex carbohydrates. It is possible to take fiber in pure form and simply include in the diet green vegetables or lettuce leaves, which contain a lot of coarse dietary fiber.
An important dietary deficiency is the lack of micronutrients caused by the exclusion of carbohydrate-containing foods from the diet. Basically, any meat or dairy products recommended in a ketogenic diet lack most of the vitamins or minerals. The best way to avoid deficiency is to take vitamins and minerals, dietary supplements that contain minerals. Numerous minerals, such as zinc or magnesium, are crucial for vital body functions and hormonal levels.
Ketogenic diet is contraindicated in the presence or indications of liver disease, kidney disease, metabolic disorders (including congenital and genetically determined metabolic disorders), progressive encephalopathy, as well as diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, cerebrovascular and lipid diseases, as well as concomitantapplication of valproic acid preparations (valproate). Other contraindications for its use are currently unknown.
When prescribing a ketogenic diet, the diet for each child and for an adult is calculated only by a doctor! Strictly individually, taking into account the diagnosis, age and weight of the child, his nutritional needs. The content of basic nutrients (proteins, fats, carbohydrates) in food is selected in a certain ratio, which is determined only by an expert! During treatment, this ratio can change, so it is necessary to constantly monitor the patient by a doctor who adjusts the diet if necessary. The patient's diet includes various types of fatty foods - bacon, thick sour cream, vegetable oils, such as flaxseed. In countries where the ketogenic diet is widely used, the food industry produces a variety of special foods that can provide a varied and complete menu.
For starters, nutritionists have developed special milk drinks with a large amount of fat, which can not only be drunk, but also eaten frozen like ice cream. This helps the child to get used to fatty foods and creates the necessary biochemical changes in the body that provide an antiepileptic effect. During treatment, the doctor needs great skill in compiling the menu, because the child will quickly get tired of the monotonous diet and may refuse to eat completely. During various diseases, such as the common cold, the metabolism always changes. This can reduce the effectiveness of the ketogenic diet. In such conditions, it is necessary to consult your doctor so that he corrects the menu.
What can you eat on a ketogenic diet and what recommendations to follow?
The ketogenic diet focuses on foods rich in protein and fat. It is important that a moderate intake of fat is beneficial and even necessary, because it is fat that causes a long-lasting feeling of satiety.
Fats can be divided into three groups:
- saturated fats (found in red meat and dairy products);
- unsaturated (found in vegetable oils and vegetables);
- monounsaturated (found in fish and olives).
Fats have many functions in the human body:
- energy (with a lack of calories, fats can be broken down, supplying the body with energy);
- protective (cover all organs with a thin layer, have high thermal insulation properties);
- construction (part of cell membranes);
- enzyme (some lipids are part of a cofactor);
- hormonal (some lipids are part of hormones, mediators).
The best choice would be foods rich in protein - meat, fish, milk, cottage cheese, eggs, cheese, as well as their derivatives. Carbohydrates are acceptable, but only in small amounts. 30-50 grams of fiber will be enough for digestion.
Any starchy foods (cereals, pasta, potatoes) and sugar in any form are not strictly recommended. Almost all fruits contain a lot of sugar in one form or another, so it is forbidden. It is always necessary to look at the composition of the product on the label, because even in a glass of milk there are about 15 grams of carbohydrates. In addition, a list of basic food additives is being studied, which will also have to be excluded, just because they are harmful.
Drink plenty of water to promote weight loss. Water helps the body burn more calories and prevents constipation. Limit caffeine intake. Exercise regularly.
Exercise can help you lose fat faster on a ketogenic diet. Take a walk, bike, run in the park or work out in the gym. Introducing a daily schedule of physical activities can help you keep your heart healthy and lose weight.
Sleep well. During the initial stages of ketosis, you may feel very tired. Sleep at least 7-8 hours a day to regain energy. A good rest will also help you lose weight.
Contact your doctor if you experience symptoms similar to cold symptoms. Many people experience fatigue and mild headaches during ketosis. Sometimes the side effects become severe enough to require medical attention.
When does the diet take effect?
The effects of using a ketogenic diet begin gradually over the first 3 months after onset. Long-term treatment is usually required (several years, more often 2-3 years), after which a lasting improvement is generally observed, which lasts with a normal diet. Therefore, it is not necessary to use a ketogenic diet for life.
In many cases, a positive effect is noticeable as early as the first or second week of treatment. However, sometimes within one to two months of use the child does not notice any effect - in this case it is too early to draw conclusions about the ineffectiveness of treatment, perhaps the doctor must more carefully calculate the biochemical parameters.
In the conventional sense, this is more of a variation of therapeutic fasting followed by “filling” food that causes ketosis. For the first three days of therapy, you should completely refuse any food and limit yourself to drinking water in any amount. Mineral water and artificially sweetened drinks with and without gas, as well as juices are prohibited. You can drink green tea. Water can be boiled or purified. During this period, it is necessary to reduce the motor activity of the patient, sometimes bed rest is indicated. For the next three days, food should be introduced slowly, in a quarter of the usual meal. In the process of choosing a product, you should be guided by the principle of 4 parts fat to one part protein and carbohydrates.
The menu is a bit reminiscent of the so-called fatty diet for weight loss. The main thing is that you should completely eliminate foods like grains, fruits, plain bread, carrots, beets, potatoes and pasta.
As with any other method of therapy, the use of a ketogenic diet is in some cases associated with some adverse reactions, the main of which are listed below.
- Hair loss.Some children have hair loss or infrequent hair growth on the background of prolonged use of a ketogenic diet. It is believed that this complication is mainly related to the lack of minerals in the diet.
- Linear growth retardation.This type of developmental disorder has been reported in some patients, but its association with the ketogenic diet is still debated to this day. Increased levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. The ketogenic diet, which consists of almost 90% of the fat component, in some cases leads to an increase in blood cholesterol and other lipids. With any content of lipids (cholesterol - more than 800 mg%, triglycerides - more than 1000 mg%), stopping the diet is not necessary. Reducing the fat-protein-carbohydrate ratio from 4: 1 to 3, 5: 1 usually leads to a rapid reduction in lipid levels to acceptable levels.
- Kidney stones.This complication of the ketogenic diet is found in approximately 1 in 6 patients and is believed to be due to inadequate fluid intake in children. Therefore, when performing a ketogenic diet, urine is examined to determine density and detect impurities in the blood. If necessary, an ultrasound examination of the kidneys is performed.
- Drowsiness and lethargymay occur due to excessive ketosis or toxicity of antiepileptic drugs used concomitantly. Blood drug levels may increase with a ketogenic diet, even if the dose is not increased. For this reason, it is necessary to check their concentration in the blood and timely reduce the dose of potentially sedative drugs such as phenobarbital and benzodiazepines.
- Constipationis usually attributed to relatively small portions of food on a ketogenic diet and limited water intake. Increasing the daily volume of fluid intake by 100-150 ml helps to avoid defecation disorders.
- Overweightpatients are the result of consuming excess calories, not fat. Therefore, the energy capacity of the child when prescribing a ketogenic diet must be adapted to their individual needs.
- Weight loss.This point can be explained by some individual characteristics of metabolism, as well as the level of physical activity of the patient. If it turns out that the child's body weight has decreased by 400-500 g in one month, the child's energy capacity can be increased by about 100 kcal per day. It should be borne in mind that by increasing the calorie intake of young children or patients with a low level of physical activity, the amount of energy consumed should not increase by more than 25 kcal.
We remind you once again that your personal menu for this diet should be compiled by an expert!
When using a ketogenic diet, it is necessary to conduct a thorough clinical and laboratory examination of patients before starting treatment by registering EEG and ECG data, as well as a biochemical blood test.