We all want to live in balance. We want to live a healthy lifestyle consistently. But in this day and age, it can seem impossible to know what we need to be doing to live a balanced healthy lifestyle in the long run. The purpose of this article is to bring truth and clarity to the Keto diet and to give you some new perspectives to ponder you may not have considered.
The Ketogenic Diet, aka Keto, seems to be one of the most popular health crazes in the 20th century. It can seem like this diet has come out of nowhere and has taken over the health industry. We are asked all the time our opinion on Keto. Should you, or should you not do Keto for your specific goals?
Before we answer that question, we must look at the topic through 3 main lenses: historical evidence, biblical principles, and current evidence-based research. When many people do research about a topic, they only get a partial picture because they leave one or more of these approaches out, but it is only when we look through all 3 lenses that we see the full picture.
Biblical- the motives and mindset behind the topic, and how it lines up with biblical principles that have been proven for thousands of years.
Historical- When and where did a topic originate, and what have been the results throughout history. We must not forget what has happened in the past.
Current Research- Do current scholarly studies provide evidence to support the topic. We need the facts, not just someone’s opinion on the internet.
With that said, let’s bring some clarity to Keto.
Contrary to popular belief, the ketogenic diet has actually been around for almost 100 years. It was first used in 1921 to treat patients for epilepsy.(1) Keto was originally discovered because of fasting. Fasting had been used to treat all sorts of sicknesses and disorders since before 500BC.(2) It was one of the common methods used in ancient times for healing. Fast forward to the 1920s, Dr. Russel Wilder proposed that many of the same benefits could be achieved from a low carbohydrate diet as they could from fasting.(2) It seemed to work! The use of fasting and the Ketogenic diet was used widely until antiepileptic drugs came into the picture witch caused the Ketogenic diet to fall by the wayside in 1938.(2)
Over the past 20 years, the Ketogenic Diet has come back bigger than ever, not for epilepsy, but for obesity. Wilder and the original discoverers never really needed to use Keto as a cure for obesity and diabetes as they were not near as prevalent as they are now. But in this day and age, we have a pandemic of obesity, diabetes, and other mostly preventable conditions. Researchers in recent years have seen the effects of how Keto can mimic the effects of fasting in many ways, including blood sugar regulation. But does Keto really work?
What is Keto?
What exactly is a Ketogenic Diet? Great question! A ketogenic diet primarily consists of high-fats, moderate-proteins, and very-low-carbohydrates. The dietary macronutrients are divided into approximately 55% to 60% fat, 30% to 35% protein and 5% to 10% carbohydrates. Specifically, in a 2000 kcal per day diet, carbohydrates amount up to 20 to 50 g per day.(1)
In simple terms, it is a diet that is VERY low in carbs. This causes our body to produce and use ketones instead of the usual glucose. Ketones are another energy source that our body can use to fuel our tissues.
Keto isn’t primarily about when you eat or the quality of the food, it is totally about having the right macronutrient split. This allows the keto diet to be done the wrong way or the right way. The wrong way is eating a bunch of sugar-free foods, heavy cream, and artificial sweeteners. Many people that are doing Keto, or have done it in the past have done it all wrong. We will talk about the right way in just a bit.
Cholesterol levels seem to be one of the most misunderstood topics in health today. Many of us were raised believing the fact that cholesterol can only come from fat and that cholesterol is just plain bad in every way. The truth is, cholesterol isn’t bad in the right amounts. Our bodies need it! It is one of the only things that our body can make on its own. So technically we don’t even need to eat any.
With that said, we need everything is the right amounts. When you eat too much of something, it is almost never good. Cholesterol levels are not just affected by how much of it we eat, but also by the quality and amounts of the other nutrients we get. Current studies indicate that the reduction of carbohydrates can lead to significant benefits in blood lipid levels.(3) Blood lipid levels are one of the main indicators of cardiovascular disease in the future. Furthermore, a ketogenic diet has been linked to the synthesis and breakdown of cholesterol leading to less build-up on arterial walls.(3)
Summary: Keto can help regulate cholesterol and blood lipid levels to help prevent cardiovascular disease.
Weight loss is one of the most common problems that people seek to solve with a Ketogenic Diet. A greater intake of sugar-laden food is associated with a 44% increased prevalence of metabolic syndrome and obesity and a 26% increase in the risk of developing diabetes mellitus.(1)
From losing 20 lbs to losing 200 lbs the keto diet has been shown to aid in weight loss better than a low-fat diet.(1) Excess consumption of low-quality carbohydrates may displace and leave no room in the diet for healthier foods like nuts, unprocessed grains, fruits, and vegetables.(1) Many of the other benefits we will talk about directly result in weight loss as many of these conditions affect each other.
Summary: Keto has been shown to help with weight loss, especially those needing short term results.
Diabetes is one of the most prevalent diseases in the united states today. The frustrating thing is that most of the cases could actually be prevented by living a healthy lifestyle.
The main issue with diabetes is insulin resistance and blood sugar levels. When you eat, your body digests and absorbs those nutrients. They are then taken into the blood to be dispersed, used, and stored as necessary. When your blood sugar is elevated right after a meal, your body secretes insulin which aids in bringing your blood sugar level down by opening the doors of the cells that need the energy. Eventually, if there is excess sugar, your body will convert it into saturated fat, and store the excess for later.(3)
The problem in type 2 diabetes is that your body becomes resistant to the insulin and your blood sugar levels stay elevated causing damage to your body. A ketogenic diet eliminates this by cutting out the sugar, thus rebalancing your blood levels and allowing your body to regain sensitivity to your hormones. A ketogenic diet has shown significant results in the blood levels affected by type 2 diabetes as well as other metabolic conditions.(1,3)
Summary: A Ketogenic diet could significantly help someone with type 2 diabetes.
Cancer is one of the saddest conditions many people can have. Over the last 30-40 years, the prevalence of cancer has increased drastically. For many years it seemed as if there was nothing we could do to prevent the likelihood of getting cancer. The only preventive measure was to catch it early.
We have also come a long way in our knowledge of what causes cancer and some possible ways to prevent it. Obviously everyone is genetically different and that plays a huge role, but could a ketogenic diet be one thing we could do that can limit our chances of getting cancer?
There is evidence that high insulin levels, high blood sugar, and chronic inflammation can increase the risk of cancer.(3) In most studies with patients that have cancer, the tumor is many times located in a tissue that has a very high amount of glycogen (sugar).(3)The evidence seems to be somewhat preliminary but could Keto help the reduce the progression of some types of cancer.
Summary: There seems to be some preliminary research that suggests a ketogenic diet could aid in the delayed progression of cancer.
Athletic performance can be a big concern of the Ketogenic Diet. For years athletes have practiced carb-loading to have the energy and fuel needed for a competition or event. By practicing keto, could this concern be real?
Interestingly with this diet plan, lean body muscle is largely spared.(1) It seems that once our body becomes efficient at breaking down fat for energy, our lean tissue is spared. This helps in the preservation of lean muscle mass.
In five separate studies of 39 high-performance athletes, researchers also found that ketosis actually improved athletic performance and reduced lactic acid in the blood and tissues.(4) Glucose oxidation (or breakdown) normally requires 11 steps to produce energy, whereas fat and ketone bodies can quickly provide energy in only three steps.(5) This could cause an increase in efficiency during our physical activities.
Summary: Performance and recovery do not need to be hindered while being on a ketogenic diet. Especially after one is accustomed to the lifestyle.
Long Term Evidence
Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be much long term evidence. There are very few studies done that are over a year long. This is probably because of the fact that the ketogenic diet may not be sustainable long term. There is also some short term evidence that a ketogenic diet could help with acne, PCOS, alzheimer’s disease, brain traumas, and Parkinson’s disease.(3) The jury is still out on the long term effects and sustainability of Keto, but the short term effects seem promising for the future.
Summary: Long term evidence is inconclusive as there is not much out there.
Mindset and Principles:
One of the number one things to consider before doing anything in your health is the mindset and motives behind the decision. It is also always good to consult your doctor or a professional before going gung-ho into a new extreme diet program.
The evidence can look promising. But before you start anything, you must be in the right mindset and motivated by the right things. If your only motivation is that you want to look good, your motivation will fade. If your motivations are just about you, they will be short-lived and won’t get you any lasting results. This is why so many people do yo-yo dieting these days. They lose their resolve because they aren’t anchored to anything bigger than themselves.
Takeaway: Your motivation must be in something other than you and it must have a long term element as well.
At Glory to Glory we don’t do diets. We don’t do quick fixes. They never last. You may get super crazy results in the short run, but then you go right back to what you used to do because you never created healthy habits that lasted.
Keto can be very beneficial if done right. But you must ask yourself, “What are my goals?” and get on a plan that will help you reach and maintain your progress. Depending on how extreme your need for a change in health is, your body type, and your past experiences in health, keto may not be for you. It can be a very extreme approach that very few people actually maintain.
If you are simply fed up with living an unhealthy lifestyle and want to make lasting changes, a more balanced approach may be more beneficial to you. You can get a lot of the same results that you would from Keto by simply making small changes in your health over time and implementing some intermittent fasting.
Don’t jump on the bandwagon of doing the newest and most flashy thing that everyone else is doing. Be different. Be someone who when others see how you are maintaining your progress come to you and see how you have been able to maintain your progress for so long. Be someone who lives a healthy, balanced lifestyle for the long run. Be someone who lives to your full potential!
The right way to do Keto:
If you do decide you want to try keto, here are some practical tips to help you do it the right way:
Get your food from quality, natural sources: Eating a pound of butter and drinking heavy cream all the time is not the way to go when trying Keto.
Get a blend of the different kinds of fats: Saturated, Monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated. Focus on getting plenty of omega 3’s.
Don’t consume artificial flavors and sweeteners: Just because something is low carbs or Keto doesn’t mean it's healthy.
Get all 4 categories of nutrition with every meal (minus the starchy carbs). You can get access to our free resource that walks you through the 4 categories Here.
Set specific short and long term goals: Have a plan on how to transition back into an eating plan that is sustainable.
Get someone in your corner who knows what they are talking about to help guide you through the right things to do, and the things to avoid.
Schedule a call with us today and we can answer any further questions you have on what plan is best for you, your goals, and your body type.
Masood, W. (2020, March 29). Ketogenic Diet. Retrieved May 30, 2020, from https://www..nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499830/?report=reader
Wheless, J.W. (2008), History of the ketogenic diet. Epilepsia, 49: 3-5. doi:10.1111/j.1528-1167.2008.01821.x
Paoli, A., Rubini, A., Volek, J. S., & Grimaldi, K. A. (2013). Beyond weight loss: A review of the therapeutic uses of very-low-carbohydrate (ketogenic) diets. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 67(8), 789-796. doi:10.1038/ejcn.2013.116
Cox PJ, Kirk T, Ashmore T, et al. Nutritional Ketosis Alters Fuel Preference and Thereby Endurance Performance in Athletes. Cell Metab. 2016;24(2):256‐268. doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2016.07.010
Ma S, Suzuki K. Keto-Adaptation and Endurance Exercise Capacity, Fatigue Recovery, and Exercise-Induced Muscle and Organ Damage Prevention: A Narrative Review. Sports (Basel). 2019;7(2):40. Published 2019 Feb 13. doi:10.3390/sports7020040