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You have probably read much conflicting information about the keto (also called ketogenic) diet. It is either the best thing since Swiss cheese or the worst since Limburger cheese. Let’s set the record straight about what the ketogenic diet is, what it should not be, and how it can benefit your weight loss process.

What is a ketogenic diet?

Simply put, it is a diet low enough in simple carbohydrates to cause the body to switch from using sugar as its primary energy source to using fat. Ketone bodies are created from the breakdown of free fatty acids in the liver. There are three primary ones called beta-hydroxy butyric acid, acetoacetic acid, and acetone. They are utilized by many cells for energy. Since they are only present when the body is using fat as his primary energy source, one is said to be in a state of nutritional ketosis, hence the name keto diet.

Two Types of Keto Diets

The majority of the conflict arises because there are essentially two types of keto diet. There is a high fat version, and the one we utilize in our clinic which is a low to moderate in dietary fat. One of the first versions of the keto diet was called the Atkins diet that originated about 1972. His diet, and subsequent modifications are generally considered to be high-fat keto. Clinical evidence showed that the Atkins diet did promote weight loss, and improvement in measures of blood sugar. However, due to the extremely high fat content of the diet, failure to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy fats, and failure to regulate fructose intake, there was evidence that long-term use of this type of high-fat diet could increased cardiovascular risk.

The Ideal Protein Keto Diet

The Ideal Protein ketogenic diet was developed approximately 25 years ago by Dr. Tran Tien. It is utilized exclusively in over 4000 medical clinics around the world. As with any diet, one must obviously consume fewer calories than are expended. It is critical to understand that types of calories ingested play a crucial role in the type of weight lost. Energy can come from four different sources, blood glucose, glycogen (glucose stored mainly in the liver and muscles) protein (found mainly in muscles and organs), and fat. The body first burns sugar found in the blood. When this starts to become depleted the body next uses glycogen. Only after glycogen is depleted does the body begin to use protein, and fat. One has a very limited ability to store sugar and glycogen, but unlimited ability to store fat. It should be apparent that the goal of weight loss should be to reduce body fat while maintaining lean body mass. Virtually all diets, except a keto diet that also provides adequate protein, cause a loss of lean body mass with its deleterious effects on lean body mass and subsequently, metabolic rate.

Keto Diet vs. Other Diets

What differentiates the keto diet from others is that it is very low in simple carbohydrates, while simultaneously providing sufficient protein to meet the dieters daily needs of maintaining lean body mass while simultaneously providing additional protein to maintain stable blood sugar  levels through the process of gluconeogenesis (a process where the liver converters amino acids derived from proteins into sugar). Diets that reduce calories without consideration for the types of calories being ingested do cause dieters to lose weight, but there are a few problems with this approach. Simply reducing calories while maintaining the same percentage of calories derived from simple carbohydrates leads to continued utilization of glucose and glycogen as the body’s primary energy source. This will decrease the amount of stored fat being used for energy, and will therefore reduce fat loss, which is our primary goal.

Additionally, and even more importantly diets that simply reduce caloric intake will significantly decrease protein intake. This leads to loss of lean body mass, with a reduction of metabolic rate and loss of skeletal muscle, organ, and heart size.  A reduction of metabolic rate makes it easier to regain weight, leading to yo-yo dieting with it becoming harder each time to lose weight. Research has shown that the ketogenic diet is the only one that does not lead to a reduction of metabolic rate.

The Ideal Protein diet is  low to moderate in fat because logically if one wants to lose fat, then one should reduce fat intake. Again, it is critical to differentiate between types of fats. Just like there are good carbohydrates (complex carbohydrates) and bad carbohydrates (simple carbohydrates, starches, and sugar), there are good and bad fats. Trans fatty acids (derived mainly from vegetable oils that has been heated and processed) cause significant damage to the body. Omega-6 polyunsaturated fats derived from vegetable oils are found in excess in the typical American diet and promote inflammation and cardiovascular disease. Saturated fats are critical for proper function of cell membranes, but when found an excess in the diet may also contribute to cardiovascular disease. Therefore the Ideal Protein diet does not contain trans fatty acids, while optimizing the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 essential fatty acids. With an emphasis on lean protein sources such as organic grass fed beef, fish and poultry, a proper balance of saturated fats is accomplished.

A central tenant of a ketogenic diet is that it reduces insulin secretion, while simultaneously improving insulin sensitivity. The hyper secretion of insulin and subsequent development of insulin resistance leads to a condition called Metabolic Syndrome also called pre-diabetes, is the precursor to type II diabetes. It is characterized by abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, elevated triglycerides (blood fats), and cholesterol. Elevated fasting insulin levels, as well as markers of inflammation such as C-Reactive Protein are also present. Research has shown that the keto diet is capable of reversing Metabolic Syndrome and type II diabetes.

Another factor that differentiates the Ideal Protein program from other diets, is that there is a weight loss phase, two transition phases, and the maintenance phase. Rather than being a diet it is an integrated program to assist one in losing body fat and then to maintain a healthy body fat level for life through long term lifestyle changes. Clinical research has shown that dieting fails approximately 85% of the time, with dieters regaining most or all of the weight they lost within one year. On the other hand, two research studies involving over 300 patients utilizing the Ideal Protein method showed just the opposite. One to three years after achieving their weight loss goal, 85% of the dieters maintained their goal weight.

Hopefully this blog has helped you understand the difference between the Ideal Protein program, high fat keto diets, and high carbohydrate-low fat diets. For more information, please feel free to schedule a courtesy consult.