Keto Diet

The Keto diet, or Ketogenic diet has suddenly found its way into the lime-light, and is the weight-loss program everyone is talking about. Keto diet says “yay” to as much heavy cream, butter, red meat, and saturated fats as you can eat, as long as you don’t eat carbs. You can have your steak and butter, but not the potato too. 

However, very few people are stopping to ask why you can still lose weight while eating all of this obviously terrible-for-your-body food. The Ketosis advocates all briefly explain how when your body starts making ketones, it burns fats cells instead of carbs. However, when talking about ketosis, they’re conveniently failing to mention Acidosis. 

In short, when your body makes too many ketones, it stops making insulin and goes into Ketoacidosis. Anyone with diabetes is probably familiar with this term. Ketoacidosis is usually a dangerous complication of diabetes where the body does not make enough insulin and makes too many ketones instead. It is life-threatening for a diabetic person. 

Ketoacidosis is rare for someone who does not have diabetes, but can be caused by starvation, alcoholism, an over-active thyroid, and (I bet you guessed it) the Keto diet.

Always remember, healthy weight loss is a math problem. Burn more calories than you take in. There is no healthier way.

What Is the Keto Diet?

Let’s start by talking about what exactly the Keto diet is. The Keto diet, by definition, is a low card, high fat, moderate protein diet.

The Keto diet allows for as much fat of any kind as you want, as long as you don’t eat carbs. Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred energy source, so the idea is to starve your body of carbs and force it to run on your fat supply. 

These are some of the guidelines for the Keto diet:

Foods to Avoid

  • Grains - wheat, corn, rice, cereal
  • Sugar - honey, agave, maple syrup
  • Fruit - apples, bananas, oranges
  • Tubers - potato, yams
  • Legumes

Foods to Eat

  • Meats - fish, beef, lamb, poultry, egg
  • Leafy Greens - spinach, kale
  • Above ground vegetables - broccoli, cauliflower
  • High fat dairy - hard cheeses, high fat cream, butter
  • Nuts and seeds - macadamias, walnuts, sunflower seeds
  • Avocado and berries - raspberries, blackberries, and other low glycemic impact berries
  • Sweeteners - stevia, erythritol, monk fruit, and other low-carb sweeteners
  • Other fats - coconut oil, high-fat salad dressing, saturated fats, etc.

Why the Keto Diet Is a Bad Idea:

Your body saves fat reserves in case you are ever starving. The keto diet is meant to trick your body into thinking it’s starving so it starts making ketones, and releasing them into the blood. Ketones help your body burn your fat supply, because you don’t have an alternate source of energy.

Unfortunately this is actually a really bad idea. When you feed your body carbs, it breaks them down into simple carbohydrates, or sugars. The body then creates insulin to process the simple carbohydrates and use it for energy. 

A healthy person generally never makes any ketones at all, unless its after a particularly hard workout (Which is a healthy time to make them). In those cases, the body controls the amount of ketones it’s making and they never become a problem[1].

When your body goes into Ketosis, it stops making insulin because it is no longer needed to process carbohydrates. This is pre-diabetes. A diabetic person has to take insulin because their body doesn’t make it. If you train your body not to make insulin and to make ketones instead, you will very likely become diabetic, but that will be the least of your problems.

Your metabolism is a very carefully balanced machine. When you play with that balance, you can run into a lot of serious health problems.

For example, when you stop making insulin the ketones are produced more rapidly. When there are too many ketones in your system, you enter into a state called Acidosis or Ketoacidosis

In short, ketoacidosis is a metabolic acid-base imbalance. You become extremely acidic, which is a great environment for a number of health issues prosper, specifically cancer. Cancer actually works to create an acidic environment for itself, to help with more rapid growth. 

When acidosis goes untreated for too long, is cases coma or death. In a diabetic person, Keto-acidosis is life-threatening. 

Ketoacidosis is rare for a person without diabetes. However it is on the rise due to the Ketogenic diet becoming a new fad. If a person has ketoacidosis and they do not have diabetes they are usually starving, an alcoholic, have an overactive thyroid, or are on the ketogenic diet. 

Ketoacidosis is no joke. It’s not a condition to play with. 

Your body makes ketones when it feels like it has no other energy source. So, when you stop this diet, your body is going try to store up as much fat as it can for the next time you are starving. This is an unfortunate side-affect of the ketogenic diet as well. 

As I previously mentioned, healthy weight loss is a math problem. Burn more calories than you take in. It is wise to be skeptical of anything that suggests you can lose weight another way.

Where the Keto Diet Came from:

This diet, although new to most household discussions, is nothing new at all. The Ketogenic diet was developed almost 100 years ago. In the early 1920’s doctors developed the Ketogenic diet to treat epilepsy in children

Your body creates insulin to transport glucose through the blood stream and use it as energy for brain function and everything else. When there’s no access to glucose the body starts making ketones and burning off its fat reserves. Then the ketones pass through the blood and into the brain instead of glucose, and insulin is no longer needed. 

The presents of ketones in the brain greatly reduced the frequency of seizures [2]. However, if too many ketones build up in the blood stream, the body will stop making insulin entirely and enter into Acidosis. This is a dangerous pre-diabetic state. 

When prescribed for an epileptic child, the ketogenic died is closely monitored by a team of medical professionals, including a medical nutrition therapist, pediatric dietitian, pediatric neurologist, and a registered nurse, specializing in childhood epilepsy. This team of medical professionals, closely monitors the child and adjusts the diet to fit the child’s age, size, and activity level. 

If the prescription ketogenic diet requires being monitored by 4 medical professionals, I can’t imagine why anyone would want to try it at home. 

It’s important to remember that even for epilepsy this “diet is not a benign, holistic or natural treatment for epilepsy; as with any serious medical therapy, there may be complications.” [3]

Common short term side-effects include:

  • Constipation
  • Low-grade acidosis 
  • Hypoglycemia
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Raised levels of fats in the blood
  • Insufficient micronutrients

Common Long Term Side-affects include:

  • Acidosis
  • Suppressed growth hormone production
  • Stunted growth in children
  • Weak, brittle bones
  • kidney stones
  • Reduced insulin production
  • Excessive amounts of calcium in urine
  • Bone demineralization caused by acidosis

Return to Home Page