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egg-1042655_960_720Ketogenic diets are designed to achieve rapid and safe weight-loss by following a low-carbohydrate, adequate-protein, and low-fat meal strategy.  Ketogenic diets limit or replace easily digestible carbohydrates (e.g. bread, pasta, rice) with low-carbohydrates (e.g. leaf greens, certain fruits and vegetables) and relatively higher amounts of protein (e.g. meats, eggs, tofu).  The Atkins, Paleo, and Greenlite diets all follow this weight-loss strategy.  Unfortunately, ketogenic diets and the associated “ketosis” are commonly misunderstood or maligned by misguided notions.  The following will help you have a better understanding of how ketogenic diets are safe and effective during the acute weight-loss period for the majority of the population.

Normally, the body uses carbohydrates, which is stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles, as its preferential source of energy.  Excess fat would typically lay dormant.  When you switch to a ketogenic diet, your body will switch its fuel source from glycogen to fat.  When your body breaks down fat, ketones are created and then used as the body’s energy source.  This metabolic process is known as ketosis, which naturally occurs to keep your body operating.  When you are sleeping, for example, your body would enter into a mild ketosis state.

Dietary ketosis is, in fact, a natural metabolic adjustment wherein the body uses excess fat to meet its energy needs during periods of reduced carbohydrate and caloric intake.  Ketosis is one of the body’s many natural survival systems.  Since overweight and obesity are, by definition, relative excesses of adipose or fat, ketosis can be used effectively to reverse the imbalance.  Ketogenic diets offer several advantages over traditional diets.  Among these are rapid and motivating weight-loss, additional hunger suppression, mild euphoria, and more rapid control of various health conditions, including but not limited to diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol.

Alternatively, there are a few disadvantages of ketogenic diets.  First, they require strict and consistent restriction of carbohydrates 24 hours per day.  Second, since people tend to lose weight rapidly on this diet, some people may neglect the lifestyle changes and exercise requirements that are essential to promote long-term weight-loss maintenance.  Third, ketogenic diets require diligent medical monitoring to confirm that it is medically safe for that person and that the diet is being followed in a healthy manner.  One of the safety issues, for example, is making sure that you are adequately replenishing both your water and electrolytes supply while in ketosis.  The excretion of ketone bodies in urine leads to “ketogenic natriuresis” wherein you lose water, sodium, and potassium as a result of the fat breakdown.  For this reason, you want to make sure that you ingest enough fluids and salt in your diet.  Potassium supplement might be considered in some cases.  For certain individuals, ketogenic diets are not recommended.  These include: Type I diabetics because the lack of insulin will incite not just ketosis but also a dangerous state of ketoacidosis; pregnant or nursing mothers; and people with serious liver or kidney dysfunctions.  Certain types of heart disease, strokes, or psychiatric conditions may also pose contraindications.  

Hundreds of thousands of people everywhere have pursued safe and motivationally effective weight-loss through ketogenic diets.  The best results usually combine a comprehensive program that includes dietary changes, behavioral modifications, and exercise.  So, now that you know more about ketogenic diets and are considering it as a weight-loss method, make sure you are evaluated by a qualified medical provider, and get going towards your weight-loss goals.

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