The ketogenic diet is one most of us have heard thrown around lately. It’s not actually a new diet, but was started in the 1920’s by Russel Wiler of the Mayo Clinic as a treatment for epilepsy. Recent studies, including one from the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, continue to show that the ketogenic diet helps with epilepsy. Other studies have shown benefits in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, obesity, diabetes, cancer, autism and neurodegenerative disorders. A ketogenic diet has also been associated with longevity!
The ketogenic diet is a very low carbohydrate diet that is also high in fat content. The drastic reduction in carbohydrate intake changes the way energy is used by the body and puts it into a metabolic state caused ketosis. Your body then becomes better at burning fat as energy, reducing glucose levels and improving insulin resistance. The body’s metabolism shifts from carbohydrates and towards fat and ketones. This increase in ketones is what helps to decrease epileptic seizures.
There are several different varieties of ketogenic diets, but they generally contain about 60-75% fat, 20-35% protein and 5-20% carbs versus the standard American diet of 35% fat, 15% protein and 50% carbohydrates. Carbohydrates like grains, legumes, potatoes, and most fruits are avoided on the ketogenic diet, with the majority of included foods being meat, eggs, nuts and seeds, healthy oils, avocado, high fat dairy, and non-starchy vegetables.
The ketogenic diet is an effective way to lose weight if calories are watched. Vitamin and mineral supplementation may also be needed, such as vitamin D, calcium, fiber and iron. Some people may experience nausea, constipation, hypoglycemia and lack of energy. Overall, in addition to the benefit of loss of excess fat, the ketogenic diet appears to provide many healthy metabolic, neurologic and insulin-related benefits.