Hi, my name is Lauren Koski and I LOVE reality television. Among my favourites: The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, and let’s not forget The Bachelor in Paradise… Lol.
There’s nothing quite like a drama-filled-but-possibly-scripted screaming match to make you feel normal. Give me aaaaaall the reality TV, please!
This post is not about reality television, though. It was spurred by a chat I had with HHHM community member Bethany Bellingham about some Keto Diet talk that popped up on Season 13 of the Bachelorette. On Episode 3 cast member Blake mentioned he doesn’t eat bananas because they have too much sugar. He goes on to explain he’s on the Ketogenic Diet and doesn’t eat carbs… At all.
Someone send this article to Blake.
Questions about the Ketogenic Diet come up often in our private Healthy Habits Happy Moms Facebook group. If you’re wondering what this diet is or how it works for weight loss, read on!
The Ketogenic Diet works by forcing your body into a continual state of Ketosis. To understand what that means and why it’s important we need a quick anatomy lesson. Stay with me – I’ll keep it short and sweet!
What is Ketosis?
Our cells main and preferred energy source is glucose, AKA sugar. When we eat, our bodies break carbohydrates down into glucose to fuel our cells. Every cell in your body needs glucose to function, but it only stores limited amounts of glucose in the body, called glycogen. This serves as a backup fuel source. Your body may rely on glycogen stores when blood glucose levels drop between meals. However, during times of starvation when your glycogen stores are depleted, your body can enter a state of ketosis.
Ketosis: a metabolic state in which some of the body’s energy supply comes from ketone bodies (from stored fats) in the blood, in contrast to a state of glycolysis in which blood glucose provides most of the energy.
Ketosis decreases the amount of glucose our body uses so that the correct level of blood glucose can be maintained for a longer period of time. This process slows the outcome of coma or death if we have to go without food. Ketosis is used by the body as an emergency process only and the body will switch back to normal glucose metabolism as soon as it is able to do so.
There is one other way to get into a ketogenic state without starving and that is by eating a diet very high in fat, adequate in protein, and extremely low in carbohydrates.
The Ketogenic Diet as Epilepsy Treatment
The first modern use of starvation to treat epilepsy was recorded in 1911. In 1921 The Ketogenic Diet was developed by Dr. Wilder of The Mayo Clinic as an alternative to fasting for epilepsy treatment. This medical diet was widely used to help control epilepsy for 2 decades before declining dramatically as the use of antiepileptic drugs were invented.
The Ketogenic Diet is now only used to treat epilepsy in those who do not respond to medication. It is not often prescribed to adults at all, and is only prescribed to children who cannot tolerate antiepileptic medication as a last resort due to many possible complications including: hypoglycemia, hyperketosis, metabolic acidosis, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, poor growth, renal stone formation, cardiac abnormalities and gastrointestinal issues such as reflux, constipation and vomiting.
The Ketogenic Diet as a Weight Loss Solution
In the last couple of years the Ketogenic Diet has exploded as the newest popular weight loss solution. As with any new diet trend you can now find a plethora of books, programs, supplements, and special food products all touting “Keto” as the new magic bullet of health and weight loss.
The Keto Gurus will tell you that going on a Ketogenic Diet is completely safe and that it is an effective way to lose weight and reduce risk factors for lifestyle diseases like heart disease and diabetes.
Here’s what they don’t tell you, and please listen carefully: Reducing your overall calories is an effective way to lose weight regardless of your carb ratios. This 2010 study compared different weight loss diets with different compositions of protein, carbs, and fats. Their conclusion? “Reduced-calorie diets result in clinically meaningful weight loss regardless of which macronutrients they emphasize.”
A KETOGENIC DIET IS NOT NECESSARY FOR WEIGHT LOSS OR HEALTH IMPROVEMENTS AND IS NOT RECOMMENDED FOR THE GENERAL PUBLIC BY ANY REPUTABLE REGISTERED DIETITIAN.
Every single diet works the same way, by reducing your caloric intake below your caloric expenditure to put you in a caloric deficit. Different diets just use different tricks to get you there.
The Risks of Dieting
Let’s go back to Blake, the Keto dieter in the Bachelorette. Another cast member, Luke, claims he awoke one night to find Blake standing over him eating a banana (only on reality TV, people!).
As much as Blake denied that it happened, it wouldn’t be the first time we’ve heard of people “cheating” on their diet and consuming massive quantities of the food they aren’t supposed to have.
The problem with restrictive diets that we’ve seen over and over again is that they are not sustainable long term. The Ketogenic Diet is no exception. Cutting out carbohydrates is not only not necessary for weight loss, it often backfires. Our bodies preferred fuel source is sugar, so not eating enough carbohydrates leads to cravings and when you finally give in to the cravings (which you will) it leads to overeating and weight regain.
The bottom line is that the Ketogenic Diet is extreme and does carry health risks. When someone has a seriously life threatening illness like epilepsy or cancer (Ketogenic Diets are being studied in some cancer patients) drastic and extreme measures are taken. It’s a case of the risks vs benefits, and often even extreme measures can carry enough benefit that the risk is worth it. But to imply that this is a healthy diet for your average person is ridiculous. It should only be followed when doctor prescribed, medically necessary, and dietitian monitored.
The Ketogenic Diet has no benefits for weight loss that cannot be obtained by following a moderate diet of mostly whole foods and balanced with all three macronutrients.
To learn more about a BALANCED and non extreme approach to lasting fat loss that doesn’t leave you miserable, you can watch our free workshop by clicking the banner below.