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High on fat, low on evidence: the problem with the keto diet

Keto popularity

Most newcomers are drawn to keto for its potential weight loss benefits, and, while it remains a topic of debate among nutritional scientists, its proponents typically gloss over the unknowns.

The real driving force behind keto’s popularity is our myopic focus on weight as the sole determinant of health.

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High on fat, low on evidence: the problem with the keto diet

High on fat, low on evidence: the problem with the keto diet

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/jan/07/high-on-fat-low-on-evidence-the-problem-with-the-keto-diet

theguardian.com

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Key Ideas

A ketogenic diet...

... is predominantly made up of high-fat foods , including butter, oils, meat, fish, eggs and cheese, and very low-carb vegetables such as cauliflower and leafy greens. 

This forces the body to burn fat for fuel, rather than glucose. In order to maintain that state, known as ketosis, followers typically restrict their carbohydrate intake to less than 50g a day

Ketosis discovery

Keto was developed as a clinical tool.

In 1911, doctors noticed that children with epilepsy stopped having seizures after 2 days of absolute fasting, when their bodies would have been forced into ketosis. 

Scientists later noted that ketosis could be achieved through a low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diet without the risk of infection and mortality rates associated with absolute fasting

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Ketosis
... is a natural process the body initiates to help us survive when food intake is low. During this state, we produce ketones, which are produced from the breakdown of fats in ...
Benefits of a Ketogenic Diet
  • Weight Loss.
  • Keto naturally lowers blood sugar levels due to the type of foods you eat.
  • Mental Focus: Ketones are a great source of fuel for the brain.
  • Increased Energy & Normalized Hunger: Fats are shown to be the most effective molecule to burn as fuel.
  • Epilepsy: Keto diet has been used since the early 1900’s to treat epilepsy successfully.
  • Cholesterol & Blood Pressure: shown to improve triglyceride levels and cholesterol levels most associated with arterial buildup.
  • Insulin Resistance.
  • Improvements in your skin health.
Do Not Eat on a Keto Diet
  • Grains – wheat, corn, rice, cereal, etc.
  • Sugar – honey, agave, maple syrup, etc.
  • Fruit – apples, bananas, oranges, etc.
  • Tubers – potato, yams, etc.

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Documented uses of the keto diet

Doctors have been prescribing ketogenic diets to treat epilepsy for nearly a century, and increasingly believe it holds promise for people with Type 2 diabetes.

But the older keto regi...

The Ketogenesis process

It supplies energy under circumstances such as fasting or caloric restriction to certain organs (e.g. the brain, heart, and skeletal muscle).

In ketogenesis, our livers start to break down fat into a usable energy source called ketones. Ketones can stand in for glucose as fuel for the body when there’s a glucose shortage. 

Once ketogenesis kicks in and ketone levels are elevated, the body is in a state called “ketosis,” during which it’s burning stored fat. 

The Keto diet
It is a very low-carb, high-fat diet. People on a ketogenic diet get 5 percent of their calories from carbohydrates, about 15 percent from protein, and 80 percent from fat. It’s this ratio that will force the body to derive much of its energy from ketones. 

That means eating mainly meats, eggs, cheese, fish, nuts, butter, oils, and vegetables while avoiding sugar, bread and other grains, beans, and even fruit.

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The Keto diet - documented uses

The keto diet is primarily used to help reduce the frequency of epileptic seizures in children. While it also has been tried for weight loss, only short-term results have been studied, and t...

Ketogenic diet

Unlike other low-carb diets, which focus on protein, a keto plan centers on fat, which supplies as much as 90% of daily calories. The keto diet aims to force your body into using a different type of fuel. Instead of relying on sugar (glucose) that comes from carbohydrates (such as grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits), the keto diet relies on ketone bodies, a type of fuel that the liver produces from stored fat. 

Keto diet meals

Followers must eat fat at each meal:

  • Some healthy unsaturated fats are allowed: almonds, walnuts, seeds, avocados, tofu, and olive oil. But saturated fats from oils (palm, coconut), lard, butter, and cocoa butter are encouraged in high amounts.
  • Protein is part of the keto diet, but it doesn't typically discriminate between lean protein foods and protein sources high in saturated fat such as beef, pork, and bacon.
  • You can have certain fruits (usually berries) in small portions. Vegetables are restricted to leafy greens (kale, Swiss chard, spinach), cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, bell peppers, onions, garlic, mushrooms, cucumber, celery, and summer squashes. 

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