The Keto Diet

Today I wanted to share some information about a very popular diet known as the Ketogenic Diet.  The Ketogenic Diet is not a new diet at all, but it has recently become very popular because of its application to weight loss.

I remember learning about the Keto Diet while in university, and at that time it was only used for treating seizures in children with epilepsy.  The research showed very positive results for epilepsy; however, I was initially very skeptical of this diet for two main reasons:
1) How could anyone follow this diet for any extended period of time?  It’s great that this diet is effective for controlling seizures, but what’s the point if this diet can’t be followed long term?
2) I also thought this diet would be completely unhealthy to follow.  For decades we’ve been told to stay away from high-fat foods since this will surely increase our risk of obesity, atherosclerosis, and heart disease.  At the time, I thought such a diet may not be worthwhile if it might contribute to other chronic disease in the long run.

As it turns out, my assumptions at that time were proven incorrect.  First of all, there are many people who have been following the Keto Diet diet for a very long time.  With education and practice, this diet is not as difficult to follow as once thought.  Second, since first learning about the Keto Diet, the theory that high-fat diets lead to obesity and cardiovascular disease has largely been disproven.  In fact, the Keto Diet, which is a high-fat diet, is now being used to treat obesity and other health conditions.

What is the Ketogenic Diet?
When we eat a meal with carbohydrates, they are broken down into glucose, which enters each cell to be used for energy.  However, when we eat very low-carbohydrate meals on the Keto Diet, there is very little glucose to enter the cells, so the body needs to use an alternative fuel source.  Our bodies can use fats to generate an alternative fuel source called “ketones”, which is where we get the name “Ketogenic Diet”.  The Keto Diet simply refers to a diet that favours the production and use of ketones as the primary fuel source.  While following this diet, you can actually measure your ketone production to see if you’re doing it right.

What are the benefits of a Ketogenic Diet?
The Ketogenic Diet is no longer solely used to treat seizures and epilepsy – it now has a wide range of applications.  When patients enter ‘ketosis’ on this diet, they often report increased energy levels, better mood, less digestive symptoms, improved mental clarity, and more.  The Keto Diet is now most well-known as a very effective weight loss strategy.  This diet allows the body to use fats as its primary fuel source, so it can accelerate fat loss.  Since the Keto Diet improves insulin resistance, this diet is an excellent option for the treatment of Type II Diabetes.  The Keto Diet is also garnering a lot of attention for it’s application to chronic neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis) and is also being researched for its role in supportive cancer care.  

What are the limitations of a Ketogenic Diet?
This type of diet is not for everyone – the Keto Diet can have amazing benefits, but this should also be weighed carefully with possible side effects.  If you have Diabetes, Hypertension, or Kidney Disease, you should consult a Naturopathic Doctor to see if this diet would be safe for you.  Less serious, but common, side effects of the Ketogenic Diet can include muscle cramping, constipation, fatigue, heart palpitations, and more.  Several of these side effects can result from electrolyte shifts that can occur while on this diet.  To prevent these symptoms, we will have our patients perform several blood tests before, and during this diet.  We will also recommend a personalized supplement plan to prevent side effects and enhance the effectiveness of this diet.

The Ketogenic Diet has deservedly gotten a lot of attention for it’s amazing benefits for a wide range of chronic health conditions.  Insulin resistance is being identified as a significant underlying cause of metabolic syndrome (Hypertension, Dyslipidemia, Obesity, Diabetes), and the Ketogenic Diet does a marvellous job of slowing or reversing this process.   If you’d like to get started on the Keto Diet, please don’t hesitate to contact our clinic.  We provide a lot of guidance for patients following the Keto Diet to ensure they can safely and successfully maximize the benefits they get from this diet.

Yours In Health,

Dr. Michael Morsillo, H.BSc., N.D.
Newmarket Naturopathic Doctor

16655 Yonge St., Newmarket, ON
905-898-1844 ext. 135