By Oliver Smith, Kinesiologist
In recent years, the ketogenic diet, a very low carb and high fat diet, has been gaining popularity in the health and wellness realm. Unlike other fad diets, there has been substantial research carried out on the ketogenic diet and it has been around for nearly a hundred years!
I first came across the ketogenic diet twelve years ago, when my son was diagnosed with epilepsy. Initially, my preconception that fats are bad deterred us from trying it out. However, after witnessing how heavy doses of anti-convulsing drugs were affecting his development, I revisited the diet four years ago. After doing extensive research and experimenting with the diet myself, I discovered that it not only benefits people with epilepsy but everything from type II diabetes, arthritis, to skin conditions. After discovering the powerful effects of this diet, I have included it in my weight loss program alongside kinesiology treatments and exercise, which has not only helped clients lose weight, but has greatly improved their general state of health.
Here are a few commonly asked questions regarding the ketogenic diet and my program:
Can this diet be harmful?
Any dietary changes have to be dealt with caution. That being said, Children with epilepsy are generally put on the diet for 3 years, and so far no adverse effects on health have been shown. Temporary side effects may occur during the initial adaptation period, mainly due to the loss of sodium, but increasing salt intake usually does the trick.
Fruit and vegetables aren’t fatty, does that mean they are not part of the diet?
Vegetables are essential as they are packed with vitamins, minerals and fibers, but starchy ones should be avoided because of their high carb content. Most fruits are high in fructose, a sugar that triggers fat storage, and should be avoided. However low carb fruits such as blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, lemons can be consumed with moderation.
Can anyone be on this diet?
Most people do very well on this diet, but people with the following conditions should avoid a low carb diet: porphyria, pyruvate carboxylase deficiency, genetic disorder of fat metabolism.
How will it help me lose weight?
Fats are very satiating, making you less hungry throughout the day. By stabilizing insulin levels, consuming fats and training your body to use that as a primary fuel source, actually prevents lipogenesis (fat storage) and promotes lipolysis (fat burning).
Should I avoid saturated fats?
Until recently, saturated fats have been deviled, but the amount of evidence showing their safety and their importance is now overwhelming (Annals of Internal Medicine 2014). Just like monounsaturated fats (e.g. olive oil) and Omega-3 oils (from oily fish), saturated fats (e.g. butter, coconut oil) should be opted for! On the other hand, polyunsaturated oils such as canola, corn, grape seed oils should be kept to a minimum as they are highly inflammatory (Calder, 2006).
Won’t my cholesterol level skyrocket?
Some people will see their total cholesterol level increase, some won't. What changes will be their cholesterol profile. The beneficial HDL cholesterol level usually raises and studies have shown that the "bad" LDL cholesterol particles actually become benign (Campos et al, 1992)!
Is this diet suitable for athletes?
Studies of low carb diets and its positive effects on sports performance have also been revisited. While the body is able to store about 2000 Kcal in the form of sugar and glycogen, it can store more than 40,000 Kcal in the form of fat! This spikes interest among many sportspeople, especially endurance athletes.
If I stop this diet, will I regain all the weight I have lost?
Everybody has heard about the yoyo effect. You go on a diet, lose weight, stop, and regain everything back and usually more. This is common with every diet, if you go back to your old habits. Therefore, a successful diet requires a change of lifestyle, which is a lifetime commitment. After the weight loss phase, it can be relaxed to a maintenance phase where only monitoring and fine tuning is required to sustain your weight.
What type of exercise will be most complementary?
Exercising is crucial to ensure muscle mass is maintained or increased during weight loss. Lots of the recent research in sports science show High Intensity Interval Training to be the most effective for weight loss and overall health.
How does kinesiology fit into this intervention?
Stress is an incredible obstacle for weight loss and achieving good health in general. Emotional blockages, negative beliefs, poor self esteem are very powerful forces that can sabotage one's weight loss journey. Kinesiology works very well on dealing with these mental issues while also addressing gastrointestinal stress, poor thyroid function, nutritional deficiencies, hormonal imbalances, that generally prevent weight loss.
"Oliver patiently coached, guided & helped me to see possibility whenever I doubted myself (which happened at least 50% of the time). We have used a combination of kinesiology, regular exercise and the ketogenic diet to achieve an 8kg weight loss." - Steve, Hong Kong
Learn more about Oliver's Ketogenic Program here.