DEC 11, 2023
The Keto Journey: From Epilepsy to Weight Loss
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Read time: 5 minutes
A Rebranded Vintage Diet
Seen by many as an in-vogue new fad, the diet has a surprisingly rich history.
Origins and Evolution
Created by mental health professionals in the 1920s after they discovered that a high-fat diet reduced episodes of seizures in epileptic patients. The diet may have originally been devised under the misguided post-Victorian view that mental health problems could be solved with discipline and a good diet. However, it has gained modern validation as a highly effective treatment and is promoted in contemporary society by the Epilepsy Foundation.
The foundation stresses that this diet should be implemented under medical supervision, and the general population should heed this rule.
Is Keto Safe?
The Question on Every Dieter’s Lips: Is the Keto Diet Safe and Effective?
Countless research shows that the diet is highly effective for weight loss, producing rapid, visible results. But before you sprint to your nearest meat and dairy aisle, whip up a keto coffee, or start hunting for those snug jeans, there are some drawbacks to think about.
The much-feared “Keto Flu” is as real and documented as the regular winter flu. Most newbies can fall victim to it. Following a well-structured plan might make you feel irritable and generally unwell initially. The symptoms can range from mild to severe.
There are many ways to alleviate the symptoms: drinking ample water, switching strenuous exercise for gentler activities like walking or yoga, ensuring sufficient sleep, and balancing your fat and carb intake. However, your body will resist this change, making its displeasure known.
The flu is just the tip of the iceberg. After conquering the keto flu, maintaining that svelte shape after the initial weight drop might be challenging.
The Human Dilemma
The crux of the issue is simple. People aren’t great at sticking to strict regimes for extended periods. Even if you're the embodiment of discipline, it doesn't necessarily mean prolonged strict diets are advisable.
No Carbs, Forever?
Doctors wave a red flag at following this diet extensively, citing risks that may overshadow the benefits.
While carbs often receive negative publicity, they're essential for kidney functionality and the overall well-being of the heart and brain, and they're our primary energy source for effective workouts. Marry the absence of these vital nutrients with the high cholesterol from red meats, cheese, and butter predominant in the keto diet, and you might land in the risk zone for cardiovascular diseases, depression, and even bowel cancer. Thus, if long-term health and aesthetics are your goals, the traditional method of a balanced, nutrient-rich diet and structured exercise might be your best bet.
Balancing Carbohydrate Intake and Healthy Fats
The ketogenic diet often highlights the drastic reduction of carbohydrate intake to transition the body into ketosis, where it burns fat for fuel instead of sugar. This shift promotes fat burning and may stabilize insulin levels, benefiting those struggling with insulin resistance. But how do you manage this delicate balance?
It's important to note that not all fats are created equal. Including healthy fats from sources like avocados, nuts, and certain oils is vital. These foods help reduce inflammation, a known trigger for many diseases.
Meanwhile, vegetables like broccoli and legumes can provide essential micronutrients that a high-fat, low-carb meal might lack. Carefully selecting food choices is crucial to ensure the body remains nourished without disrupting ketosis.
Supplements and Micronutrient Considerations
Since the ketogenic diet limits certain food groups, it's wise to consider supplements to fill any nutritional gaps. For instance, a child on a ketogenic diet for epilepsy management must ensure adequate intake of all necessary vitamins and minerals for healthy growth. The same goes for adults; a review of one's micronutrient intake is crucial to prevent any deficiencies that could compromise health.
Creating Keto-Friendly Meals
Preparing keto-friendly meals catering to adults and children can be challenging, but with an array of available recipes, it's not impossible. Meals rich in fiber from vegetables and the right proteins and fats can lead to a satisfying dining experience without the carb-heavy staples. For instance, replacing traditional pasta with spiralized vegetables can make a delicious, kid-approved meal.
The Role of Physical Activity in Keto
While diet is pivotal in weight loss and body fat reduction, physical activity cannot be overlooked. Exercise aids muscle maintenance and can improve blood sugar control. However, since the body's primary source of energy on keto is fat, adjustments in workout intensity and duration might be necessary, especially during the initial stages of the diet.
Long-Term Considerations and Medical Advice
As mentioned earlier, the ketogenic diet has its controversies, especially regarding long-term sustainability. Children and adults with specific health conditions should approach the diet cautiously and always under medical supervision. It's not a one-size-fits-all solution, and personalization is key.
Beyond the Myths and Misconceptions
The keto diet isn’t just a fleeting trend. When adhered to correctly, it's both safe and profoundly efficient as a weight-loss tool. Yet, most studies suggest that the diet’s benefits are best enjoyed short-term and under a professional's watchful eye. However, some, like PROMiXX buddy and WBFF Pro Daniel Ventura, advocate this diet as a prolonged lifestyle choice.
And before you go, be sure to check out another one of our blogs for a full in-depth, personal breakdown of how ketosis had a positive impact, for one of our team!
Written by Matthew Stogdon
Matt has been writing for two decades, across print and digital media. He is also an accomplished filmmaker, with several accolades under his belt.