Health | Understanding the ketogenic diet

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Despite being around for years, more people are adopting the ketogenic diet as means to maintain good health and well being. But what is all the buzz about?

What is so good about the ketogenic diet that has everyone in a tizzy and a state of confusion? That is the question most people ask, despite the ‘fad’ diet being around for almost 90 years.

The goal of the ketogenic diet plan, according to the gurus, is to improve well being through a metabolic change in which the primary cellular fuel source switches from carbohydrate based fuels (glucose) to fat fuels and fat metabolism called ketones.

The diet is high in fat, supplies adequate protein and is low in carbohydrates. This combination changes the way energy is used in the body. Fat is converted in the liver into fatty acids and ketone bodies. Another effect of the diet is that it lowers glucose levels and improves insulin resistance. An elevated level of ketone bodies in the blood, a state known as ketosis, leads to a reduction in the occurrence of epileptic seizures.

So, how does it work in practice? This diet requires reducing carbohydrate intake to about 20 to 60 grams per day.

Protein intake, on the other hand, is dependent on height, gender and the amount of exercise done. Eating too much protein can interfere with ketosis so it’s important to get the right levels.

The nutrient intake on such a diet typically requires about 70 to 75 per cent of calories from fat, 20 to 25 per cent from protein and five to 10 per cent from carbohydrates on a daily basis when calories are not restricted.

The key to correctly implementing a ketogenic diet plan is to remember that you are exchanging carbohydrate containing foods with a higher fat intake and a moderate protein consumption.

As this diet requires a big change, you should check with your doctor if you have any concerns before starting. This is especially important for those with pre-existing health conditions involving the heart or kidney.