Ketogenic Diets: What does the Science suggest?
To begin with let’s clarify exactly what a ketogenic (Keto) diet is….
A Keto diet is considered to be a very low carbohydrate/high fat diet. When we consume carbohydrate the body will typically convert this into glucose to give us energy. However, when carbohydrate isn’t available our body is required to utilise our fat stores as energy instead. When the body burns fat, ketones are produced as the energy source.
But what does this all really mean? Well in short some researchers have found that ketosis is advantageous for weight loss. In a study, 83 obese individuals were introduced to a keto diet for 24 weeks. At the beginning of the study the mean weight for all of the participants was 101.03±2.33 kg, which was significantly reduced to a mean of 91.10±2.76 kg following the diet (Dashti et al., 2004). Weight loss has also been associated with the reduction of symptoms associated with type 2 diabetes. A study in fact went on to conclude that a Keto diet helped treat type 2 diabetes. The diet worked so well that some patients weren’t required to take their prescribed medication anymore or their medication was significantly reduced (Yancy et al, 2005).
Scientists have also began to investigate as to how ketones interact with our brains. They have found that ketones enhance memory and cognitive function. It has therefore been suggested that a Ketogenic diet may be helpful in the treatment for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease (Murray et al., 2016).
But with all these benefits it can be easy to assume that a Keto diet is for everyone, which is wrong. We’ve mentioned in a previous blog post that low-carbohydrate diets are not necessarily a good thing for competing athletes. Yes there is evidence out there to suggest that when restricting carbohydrate intake on training days and increasing over competition this can help competitive performance. But for athletes to do this they need to seek advice from a professional. It is also advisable that others seek advice from a registered nutritionist to ensure that the diet is being followed properly. A qualified nutritionist will also be able to ensure you are getting all of the correct nutrients you require.
And if you decide going Keto is for you, then lo han guo is great when making a low carb option.
Dashti. H.M., Mathew. T.C., Hussein. T., Asfar S.K., (2004), Long-term effects of a ketogenic diet in obese patients, Experimental & Clinical Cardiology, 9(3): 200–205, nutrition and Metabolism, 10.1186/1743-7075-2-34
Yancy. W.S., Foy. M., Chalecki. A.M., Vernon. M.C., Westman. E.C., (2005), A low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet to treat type 2 diabetes, Nutrition and Metabolism, 10.1186/1743-7075-2-34
Murray. A.J., Knight. N.S., Cole. MA., Cochlin. L.E at al., (2016) Novel ketone diet enhances physical and cognitive performance, The Faseb Journal, 30(12): 4021–4032