If you haven’t already jumped on the keto diet bandwagon, I’ll give you a brief introduction. Basically, the ketogenic diet is a super high in fat (65-75% of your diet is fat), a super low carbohydrate (<5% of your diet) and moderate in protein (15-20% of your diet). Surely, not the most balanced of diets considering Health Canada your diet should contain 10-35% of protein, 45-65% of carbohydrate and 20-35% of fat. So how to you meet that skewed macronutrient distribution? Well, you load up on keto diet staples like meat, fish, butter eggs, cheese, heavy cream, oils, nuts, avocados, seeds and low carb green vegetables. And you cut out all your go-to carb sources like grains, rice, beans, potatoes, sweets, milk, cereals, and fruits. These kinds of restrictive diets tend to make nutrition professionals like dietitians run for the hills but I’m going to give it my honest unbiased account.
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With the high intake of fat, are we concerned about the high intake of cholesterol? YEP. A study using the keto diet as a form of treatment for epileptic seizures in children found that after 6 months of administering the diet, triglyceride levels increased, total cholesterol levels increased, and HDL and LDL increased. These results suggest that over time, a keto diet may lead to an increased risk of hypercholesterolemia and hypertriglyceridemia. In the same ten-year study, 40% of patients developed hypertriglyceridemia and 29% of patients experienced hypercholesterolemia. So, if heart disease runs in your family, you may want to bow out now.
I did the Keto diet for 26 days. I’m not really what anyone would consider overweight but did lose 11 pounds. My heart rate is out of control. My resting heart rate is 98 and my blood pressure is above high. I’m actually a little scared. I loved the diet and being on it, but as someone who always had optimal blood pressure and pulse before and great endurance for intense workouts, I’d say the diet has destroyed that. I wish I’d have known before. I didn’t take magnesium, potassium or salt drops like so many told me I should have been doing. (Didn’t realize this before) In my opinion, if you need to do that to stay alive on a diet it isn’t safe! I have lost weight in much healthier ways before without needing to supplement to stay alive. I am now working on getting my heart rate down at the age of 33 and 145 pounds. Such a ridiculous outcome. Diet fail!
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The medical community is failing their patients by continuing to shove the food pyramid in their faces. Let them lose weight in a manner that works best for them — and let them lose it fast so they see results. Im sick of hearing “it’s a lifestyle change” because diets themselves are not meant to be lifestyle changes — they are meant to be a period of weight loss. Show them the lifestyle changes AFTER they lose the weight necessary to become healthy again. How I see it — where people fail and where you are failing them — is not helping them to realistically lose the weight in the first place and then in not teaching them how to maintain their lifestyle using realistic macros guidelines to do so.
This whole post must have taken so much effort and I think it’s incredible that you do this. The issue with these diets is that people hear about it, think it sounds good and do it. No questions! We are so lucky to have dietitians like you actually laying out all the research, the good, the bad, and everything in between about these diets, so THANK YOU!
Having said that, there are also studies suggesting that long term carbohydrate restriction diets (aka. the keto diet) may result in fast short term weight loss but people gain it all back in the long term. An RCT put 63 individuals on a low-fat diet or a low carb diet, and the study found the low carb dieters lost more weight compared to the low fat group by month 3 and 6, but that the weight loss evened out by month 12. This was confirmed by a Meta-analysis which found that while low-carbers lost more weight than low-fat dieters but the differences disappeared by the one year mark.
The findings below have been limited to research specific to the ketogenic diet: the studies listed contain about 70-80% fat, 10-20% protein, and 5-10% carbohydrate. Diets otherwise termed “low carbohydrate” may not include these specific ratios, allowing higher amounts of protein or carbohydrate. Therefore only diets that specified the terms “ketogenic” or “keto,” or followed the macronutrient ratios listed above were included in this list below. In addition, though extensive research exists on the use of the ketogenic diet for other medical conditions, only studies that examined ketogenic diets specific to obesity or overweight were included in this list. (This paragraph was added to provide additional clarity on 5.7.18.)
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Jade, congratulations for your keto approach! I’ve had lots of sugar cravings & binging and keto was my solution for “cooling down” and getting back on track. I am also very careful with animal fat and I tend to get the fats from other sources – at least until further notice. I have also made a list of super-foods as I like to call them, vegetables high in micronutrients and low in carbs and also others high in fiber. I actually managed to search these foods in the USDA database and rank them from top to bottom, depending on the micronutrient. This way I know how to get the richest foods that are less calorie dense. I could say I’ve had some revelations along the way.
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Thermal Effect of Activity, also known as Activity Level, determines additional energy expenditure due to moving around and exercising. According to Lyle McDonald, broadly speaking, there are 5 categories / activity levels. We readjusted the multipliers from Lyle McDonald's book to better reflect different activity levels that work for most people.
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I’m throwing in the towel but will continue working out as I LOVE it. I am going to eat sensible, keep up the weight training and see how it goes. I feel like I gave it a good run but if I haven’t seen results in 90 days I don’t feel this is the best way to eat for my body. I’m curious if anyone else has had lack luster results like mine while being diligent with a strick KETO diet.