Keto diets seem to be the rage nowadays. Some people have transition issues from a blood glucose-based energy system to relying on fat for energy. Regardless, some things about this type of diet – low carb and high fat/protein – are things that can harm you in the future.
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/ketogenic-diet-101. Diets (not lifestyles) that minimize carbohydrates and maximize fats are called keto or ketogenic diets. Atkins is a well-known ketogenic diet. I was on Atkins for about six years and enjoyed every day eating the foods I liked – cheeseburgers (without the bread), eggs, sausage, bacon, chicken, beef, etc.
You might have noticed that I did not eat any fruits or vegetables – or rarely. I avoid carbohydrates – less than 10 grams daily – without any effort or discomfort. I love spaghetti and can eat it multiple times daily. However, the food I missed the most was bread.
I read several books on the Atkins Diet before deciding to change my eating habits. I lost 30-40 lbs. quickly and kept it off for over six years. I lived in Germany for the last two years and would occasionally drive down to Italy for a long weekend.
I would enjoy pasta and bread and come back home to learn that I gained twelve pounds – water weight. Two weeks later, I was back at my original weights before heading south for Italy. This happened multiple times over a couple of years.
https://www.today.com/health/what-keto-everything-know-about-ketogenic-diet-t217117. Our bodies can adapt to two different energy sources – sugar and fat. Sugar-based energy comes from blood glucose which comes from foods high in carbohydrates. Fat-based diets rely on dietary fat or the fat stored around our middles (and other places) to provide the energy we need to live each day.
The norm for most people is the blood glucose energy source. Unused blood glucose is stored as fat. When the body needs energy, and the blood glucose stores are empty, the body quickly pulls fat from our body and uses it for energy demands. The term, ketosis, is applied to the body’s condition when a person abstains from carbohydrates and depends on fat for energy.
The liver provides ketones to fuel the brain while the body adapts to fat for energy and body functions. The brain uses blood glucose, and when none is present in the body, it uses ketones instead.
Ketosis was used a hundred years ago to treat epilepsy – and was very successful. It went out of vogue for decades and has come back into the medical profession as an option to consider. Ketogenic diets are used today for weight management.
Dietary fats can come from bacon just as easily as avocado. Fasting can induce ketosis because all blood glucose energy is drained over time without eating, and the body automatically switches to a fat-burning mode.
Health Benefits of Ketogenic Diets
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-benefits-of-low-carb-ketogenic-diets. Most articles about keto diets and ketosis will tell you that they are healthy and beneficial. You will find skeptics with a counter view.
Hunger or appetite tends to be muted when you are on a keto diet (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17228046/). Weight loss is more manageable when in ketosis (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12430970/). Because you are burning fat from the fat cells in your body more often on a keto diet, your body fat decreases (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15533250/).
There are a dozen or more published health benefits from a ketogenic diet.
Health Concerns About Keto Diets
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/dangers-of-keto-diet. There are benefits and risks associated with almost every diet. When your focus is to lose pounds and fat, a ketogenic diet may be a way to jump-start that process. Is it a good thing to remain on for years? That depends on your dietary selections.
Some people experience ‘keto flu’ during their energy source transition from blood glucose to fat. They may have headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and more. Not everyone experiences these temporary symptoms – I never did. As your body adjusts, these symptoms disappear.
The one concern repeated in the Atkins Diet books I read was the risk of kidney damage and kidney stones. Some food choices (fats, proteins, and carbohydrates) lead to your body becoming more acidic.
Increased animal fats can lead to higher calcium levels in your urine and increase the risk of kidney stones. If you have kidney issues, talk to your physician first before starting any new diet.
Many keto food choices do not include dietary fibers that can disrupt the gut bacteria, resulting in digestive issues – constipation being the most prominent. Nutritional supplements of fiber can help provide the balance needed.
I advocate nutritional balance. When a person chooses to eliminate certain types of foods – fruits and vegetables, there is an increased risk of becoming nutrient deficient. It is better to get all your nutrients from food, but many people choose supplements. Figure out what you need and balance your nutrient intake.
Bone health is a big concern for me. I left Germany and returned to the United States and had my first bone density test. I found I had osteopenia. My body was giving up more calcium than it was getting from my dietary choices. The five Atkins books I read never mentioned bone density loss. I have scanned a few new books on Atkins and keto, and they do not cover this subject well.
Bone Health and Keto
https://www.dietdoctor.com/could-eating-a-keto-or-lchf-diet-harm-bone-health. A study of thirty world-class athletes were put on a high-carb, low-fat diet or a low-carb, high-fat diet for nearly a month. Individual dietary plans were structured to meet the needs of each participant.
At the end of the study, keto-based diets produced increased markers of bone breakdown and decreased markers of new bone formation. When carbs were added back to this low-carb, high-fat group, their bone markers returned to normal.
I had difficulty understanding why I had osteopenia because I had assumed that my decades of running and weightlifting were adequate to keep my bones strong for the rest of my life. I never figured that I would ever develop a bone health or bone density problem. What happened?
It took me a few months to research how dietary calcium gets to the bones. I study the human body at the cellular level looking for cause and effect relationships, chemically speaking. Our bodies absorb calcium from the foods we eat much more accessible than from pills, especially calcium carbonate, the most available calcium supplement.
When we have adequate magnesium levels in our bodies, calcium is more readily available to the body. When you are deficient in magnesium, the calcium will end up in the toilet. As the contents of your stomach pass through your duodenum, calcium will be extracted from the stomach juices and enter your bloodstream. When you are deficient in vitamin D3, the calcium will not enter your bloodstream and ends up in the toilet.
Once the calcium gets into your blood, it has two options – it goes to the bones of the heart valves/arteries. Normal levels of vitamin K2 will force calcium into the bones. When vitamin K2 is not present, the heart valves and arteries will absorb the calcium, and it becomes plaque along with oxidized cholesterol.
Most people, including doctors, do not understand the chemical requirements to get calcium into your bones and keep it there. Getting calcium there is hard enough, but keeping it there is even more challenging. Your body will extract calcium from the bones to maintain the pH of your blood.
When the pH (a measure of acidity and alkalinity) goes below 7.4, the body adjusts blood pH by using calcium from your bones. When your blood pH is over 7.4, there is no need to add additional calcium to your bloodstream.
What causes the pH to shift from acidic to alkaline? The answer is the foods you eat – primarily. Normal metabolic functions in the body (breathing, thinking, exercising, digesting, etc.) leave an acidic byproduct in the blood. Acidic foods (fats, proteins, and carbohydrates) naturally lower your body’s pH level.
I check my body’s pH a couple of times a day with a strip that I touch to my tongue. I can tell whether my body is alkaline or acidic. How do you get your body into an alkaline environment? Fruits and vegetables – two things commonly left out of dietary choices for Atkins and keto diets – provide the body with the ingredients needed to become alkaline.
You must have more fruits and vegetables than carbohydrates, fats, and proteins to overcome the dietary balance of acidic and alkaline demands. Add the acidic addition from your metabolism, and you need a little extra fruit and vegetable options.
Long-term health requires close attention to the foods you choose.
Keto diets can be healthy for the long haul when you incorporate fruits and vegetables to keep your body in an alkaline state. Unfortunately, most of us are not aware of the body’s pH and too many acidic foods.
High-fat diets generally create situations where constipation is a concern. Fiber, both soluble and insoluble, can be obtained from food choices or supplements.
I found that my running endurance decreased significantly. I could easily run six or eight miles without an effort. On Atkins, I could barely run two miles without having to stop. I will admit that my food choices on Atkins did not include fruits and vegetables. Would that have made a difference? I do not know.
When we go on diets, it is for a specific purpose – lose weight, lose fat, become healthier, etc. A diet is temporary. When you choose a lifestyle over a diet, the result is longer-term thinking and action.
Yes, you could go on a keto diet for six months, lose weight and fat, and then gain it back in a couple of years when you return to your old eating habits.
Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin – RedOLaughlin.com