If you are overweight or obese and have High Blood pressure or Diabetes, you may have to lose weight however you can. To do that you may have to adjust your diet and do more aerobic exercise. The problem is that despite the best efforts of many, reaching individual weight loss goal(s) remains a mirage. For many, the remaining options would include drugs and bariatric surgery. Many quit weight loss drugs because of onerous side-effects and many people who undergo surgery do not get the results they want.
Losing weight is one thing but maintaining the desired weight is something else. The problem is once you lose weight the body tries to reverse it through well-described physiological mechanisms:
- Increased hunger pangs
- Slowing of metabolism
The good news is that several well-designed studies show that individuals on a Ketogenic diet can lose weight, but more importantly, they can maintain the weight loss over a considerable period of time. This has attracted a lot of interest, recently, even from the most prestigious Universities such as Harvard. Although it is not fully understood, scientists believe that the Ketogenic diet does this by:
- Decreased hunger-the fats and proteins in the Ketogenic diet have satiating properties
- Changes in levels of appetite-regulating hormones
- Direct appetite suppressing effects of ketones produced by switching to the Ketogenic diet.
- No reduction in metabolic rate
Despite the efforts of many health care agencies, the rate of obesity is projected to continue to rise even though many are on low-fat diets. The typical American diet is about 55% carbohydrates which is about 200-350 g of carbs per day. The ketogenic diet restricts carb intake to about 20-50 g per day. That’s not all, the diet only allows non-starchy vegetables as a source of carbohydrates. Considering that amino acids can be converted to glucose, the diet only allows just enough proteins to maintain lean body mass.
What are your expectations regarding the ketogenic diet?
Losing 10 pounds over two weeks is very common. Some of the weight loss is from the diuretic or water eliminating properties of the diet. However, the diet causes a reduction in insulin secretion which causes the body to harvest the fat storage cells which leads to additional weight loss. Some people have lost over 100 pounds while on the diet.
Who else can benefit from the Ketogenic diet?
One striking benefit of the ketogenic diet is its ability to reduce insulin secretion and lower HbA1c which is the main measure of the control of Diabetes. It’s not just Diabetics who can benefit; patients with heart conditions are also in line for a treat. The diet causes improvements in LDL and HDL Cholesterol, lowers abdominal circumference, and it even lowers blood pressure.
Is it safe?
The ketogenic diet has been used to treat resistant Epilepsy over the past century and is, generally speaking, safe. Some experience flu-like symptoms such as dizziness and lightheadedness. If you are diabetic or on high blood pressure medications, you may need to consult your doctor before embarking on the ketogenic diet.