K is for KETO Diet


Nutrition Tip Thursday

Randi Karlinsky MS, RDN, LDN, CHC, NASM-CPT

The ketogenic diet has been around for many years but has become a topic of conversation only recently. The ketogenic diet, also known as the anti-seizure diet, puts the body in a state of starvation. Starving the body of necessary nutrients such as carbohydrates somehow reduces seizure activity. The goal of the ketogenic diet is to reach the state of ketosis, which means the body is breaking down fat for energy instead of carbohydrates. While this sounds wonderful, other side effects of starvation include acidosis, dehydration and hypoglycemia. Researchers are still studying the mechanism of action responsible for reducing seizure activity and currently remains unknown.

The anti-seizure version of the ketogenic diet and the current mainstream version are quite different. The table below outlines the recommended energy breakdown for each diet as well as the DRI (dietary reference intake) needed for adequate nutrient intake for healthy people.

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As you can see, the anti-seizure ketogenic diet has pretty strict guidelines, which is why it is often controlled in a clinical setting with close monitoring by a medical team. The mainstream version is a little more applicable to everyday life however, still pretty restrictive. This plan focuses on consuming lots of red meat, fatty fish, eggs, butter & cream, cheese, nuts & seeds, oils, condiments, and low-carb veggies. The foods you must avoid on this plan include starches, grains, fruit, beans and other legumes, root vegetables, sugar, alcohol, and even sugar-free diet foods.

The proposed benefits of eating this way include the possible promotion of weight loss, possible lowering of blood sugar, and possible increase in insulin sensitivity for diabetics. There may be some potential benefits to brain health as well. On the other hand, the potential consequences include reduced muscle mass, constipation, severe vitamin and mineral deficiency, and what’s called the keto flu.

At the end of the day, you have to decide what works best for you. A temporary fix may help you reach your goals in the short-term, but the results may not be sustainable once you turn back to old habits. It is important to consult a Registered Dietitian before starting a new nutrition plan. LifeStart’s Dietitians will help you make an informed decision to reach your goals both safely and effectively.