There’s a lot of talk at the moment about ‘ketogenic’ (high fat) diets. According to the hype, these diets can pare off the pounds and improve your health. Various high profile figures have come out in favour of ketogenic eating, including Kim Kardashian and Gwyneth Paltrow.
Some, however, are dubious. Proponents of plant-based diets have raised concerns about the inflammatory nature of ketogenic diets (which often put a lot of emphasis on meat and animal products). Many doctors have also warned that fat-heavy diets like the Atkins could lead to heart disease.
For the ordinary consumer, this is all pretty confusing. How is a person to know whether a high fat diet will help them lose weight, increase their risk of heart disease, make them add the pounds, or do nothing at all?
Ketogenic Diets For Obesity
If done correctly, a ketogenic diet should be not so much about increasing fat intake as about reducing carbohydrates. Carbohydrates (sugars and starches, essentially) are what the body uses to ‘fuel’ itself – carbs are converted into glucose, which energises the cells. Excess glucose is stored as fat. Dietary fats, on the other hand, tend to be broken down into substances which the body uses to repair and strengthen itself. While fat can be burned as a source of energy, the body turns to glucose where possible, first.
What this means in dietary terms is that, when starved of an easy source of glucose, the body will turn to burning fats instead. And, because there is less ‘energy’ in fat, the body has to burn more of it to get the energy it needs. End result – weight loss.
If done properly, it does work. Ketogenic diets have been recommended by doctors for decades for patients who need to bring their weight down fast. Anyone at risk of obesity-related diseases, such as Type 2 Diabetes, could probably benefit in the short term from a ketogenic diet. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Not so fast. This is by no means as simple as it seems, and there are a number of important caveats to note.
If you are going to follow a ketogenic diet, it is vital to get it right:
1 For a start, loading up on fats without simultaneously cutting down on carbs won’t give you the weight-loss results you desire.
2 Secondly, it is important to make sure that you’re eating the right kinds of fats. Reaching straight for the bacon at every meal is a one way ticket to an early heart attack. Instead, seek out things like nuts, white fish, eggs, and so on.
3 Thirdly, remember that a balanced diet cannot consist of fat alone. You willl also need to get enough fibrous vegetables in your meals to maintain your health.
4 Finally, it should be stressed that a ketogenic diet is not the ideal long-term choice. While it’s good for shaving off a few pounds in the short term, there are significant risks associated with the diet which make it a poor long-term nutritional choice.
Go ketogenic for long enough to lose the weight, and then start adjusting your diet along more balanced lines. Too many carbs will make you fat – but cutting them out completely risks losing a lot of important nutritional groups!