Fact remains that long term studies on its effects have not been carried out and the scientific community has not approved it as a weight loss therapy yet.
The keto diet has gained popularity, unlike any other diet in the recent past. Scores of health articles discuss it daily and so many people are willing to try it after hearing about it from a friend. There are many success stories – people have reported feeling rejuvenated and shedding many kilos. However, the fact remains that long term studies on its effects have not been carried out and the scientific community has not approved it as a weight loss therapy yet. Further research will tell us if the weight loss is sustainable (as many of those who lose weight find it difficult to keep it off) and shed light on its long term health effects.
There may be short term benefits
A study at Yale involving mice has shown that the ketogenic diet does have good short term health effects. A week on the diet improved metabolism, lowered inflammation and diabetes risk. However, the mice that were on the diet longer than a week regained the weight and became obese and had a higher likelihood of developing diabetes. The researchers attributed this to the high amount of fat in the diet – the mice were consuming more fat than they could burn and burdening their bodies.
What the keto diet consists of
A ketogenic diet is composed mostly of fat as 90% of the calories are meant to come from fat and proteins make up the remainder. The idea is to deprive the body of carbohydrates as much as possible. Ideally, less than 50g of carbohydrates should be consumed in a day. Vegetables and fruits contain carbohydrates, but leafy greens and certain berries can be consumed, albeit with restraint. Pulses, rotis, and foods containing added sugar will need to be avoided. All kinds of fats are permitted, and unsaturated fats especially so – they make up the majority of the diet.
The diet aims to use a different kind of fuel to run the body. Rather than glucose, a body that has been on the keto diet will run on ketone bodies instead. The liver produces ketone from stored fat, so the body effectively begins burning fat to fuel itself. It believes that it is in a state of starvation when in reality it is not. With the release of ketone bodies, gamma delta T-cells are also released which lower inflammation and risks associated with diabetes. For example, the mice had lower blood sugar at the end of the week.
However, the researchers found that during this fat burning process, fat from the diet continues getting stored in the body anyway. What this meant for the mice was that they started gaining weight after being on the diet for a longer time. This led to obesity and an increased likelihood of getting diabetes. It appears that the high-fat content of the diet eventually works against it.
The researchers hope to use these findings to better understand the workings of the ketogenic diet and perhaps come up with recommendations on the duration of the diet.
For more information, read our article on Keto Diet.
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