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Thinking Keto? Think twice.

The ketogenic diet is a very low carbohydrate, high fat diet.

It consists of approximately 70-80% of the individual’s daily overall energy intake coming from fat (this is very high - a normal, healthy ratio should be no more than 35% overall energy intake from fat each day). The diet also limits carbohydrates to no more than 50grams per day.

Initially the ketogenic diet was (and still is) used as an effective means to help treat epilepsy and reduce the frequency of seizures in children.

As a therapeutic treatment plan, the ketogenic diet has proved to be a successful way of combating this in children, however it takes thorough planning and close monitoring as well strong commitment by the whole family, it is by no means an easy option to adhere to.

The ketogenic or ‘keto’ diet has also caught traction as a means of weight loss. Whether that be due to its low carbohydrate nature or people experiencing rapid reduction in weight (initially).

Although there may be some positive weight loss results, this does not mean that (unless you are using it as the tried and tested effective epilepsy treatment plan) it is necessarily good for you, especially in the long term.

Firstly, if it is not something that you can actually adhere to for the rest of your life, then there is probably no point in placing your body under short term stress with body weight bouncing back and forth.

Secondly; a diet with an extremely high fat intake and little carbohydrates, faces the possibility of not meeting important nutritional targets, such as crucial micronutrients which are vital for an array of different bodily functions & responsible for the mere necessity of ensuring that all chemical processes (required for the body to function healthily & optimally) are carried out.

Many potential implications can result from following a ketogenic diet, such as experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms like constipation, diarrhoea, abdominal cramping and a worsening of reflux.

Furthermore, following a strict diet like such, can be extremely challenging to maintain, and potentially impact other areas of your life in an undesirable way such as social aspects, due to the limited nature of the diet.

Extreme carbohydrate restriction can also lead to other unfavourable symptoms such as fatigue, irritability, constipation and ‘brain fog’.

Longer-term impacts can result in nutritional deficiencies as (like mentioned above) it can be harder to obtain specific nutrients when a diet has great limitations, leading to even further and more serious adverse health effects.

If you do not have any metabolic disorders and are otherwise what would be deemed a ‘ ‘normal’ individual that may just be looking for an effective means to lose weight, the keto diet is probably not one I would suggest, especially if you are looking for something that is sustainable and effective in the long term.

Ridding your diet of carbohydrates in short will allow you to lose weight, but this is merely because with each gram of glycogen (stored carbohydrates) that your body stores, water is also stored (in the ratio of 1:3).

When you don’t consume any carbohydrates in your diet, your body will seek to utilise the stored glycogen, thus using up the stores and the water that is stored along with it. 
This is where the weight loss occurs and, furthermore, this is why, when you return to consuming carbohydrates, the weight will return.

Carbohydrates are also the body and brains main and preferred energy source.

Rather than eliminating important food groups and trying to adhere to something which may present more unfavourable health effects than favourable ones, focus on incorporating a large variety of whole foods into your diet. Include a wide variety of different legumes, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and wholegrains (as unprocessed as possible) drink plenty of water and move your body as much as you can each day. Reap a multitude of positive benefits, both physically and mentally from a healthy, balanced and sustainable lifestyle and let your body thrive instead of placing it under immense stress, wreaking physical and mental havoc.



Epilepsy Action Australia

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