After the first World War, the entire world was facing a food shortage, and people were consuming whatever they could get their hands on. Those dark times taught people to use every single ingredient and make the best of it. Thankfully, the world slowly rebuilt itself, and now, citizens are blessed to have access to a huge selection of foods, in developed nations at least. Without having to worry about the availability of food, diet trends are a huge part of the modern world. With each new decade, a new diet is introduced, and presently, the old Keto diet has been revived by the trendy magazines, and here are some interesting facts about it:
1. What even is Keto?
It is easy to understand that one must cut carbohydrates from their diet to label it as a Keto diet, but what exactly is Keto? Once the number of ketones is elevated in the blood or urine, it is known as Ketosis, which is achieved once the body stops using glucose as a source of energy and starts burning through fat reserves. Ketones are the byproduct of the liver breaking down fats and proteins.
2. Designed for a Different Purpose
While Keto is immensely popular in the dieting community, it was originally created to treat diabetes and children who were suffering from epilepsy. Fasting is also known to provide relief to epileptics; however, one cannot fast for their entire life, and Dr. Russell Morse Wilder, an American physician, researched thoroughly to achieve the same results as fasting but without stopping consumption, and hence, Ketogenic Diet was born. He tested his diets on epileptic patients in the 1920s, and it was a success. Also, since it is known to reduce blood sugar levels it also increases insulin sensitivity, which provides relief to diabetics as well.
3. Not limited to Grains
One of the biggest misconceptions people have about the Keto diet is that only grains must be limited; however, it is not about the grains, it is about the strict limitation of carbohydrates, which includes fruits and vegetables as well. According to Dr. Russell Morse Wilder, as long as a person consumes under 50g of carbohydrates in a day, their body can go into the state of ketosis to see the desired results, regardless of the form in which carbohydrates are consumed.
4. The Keto Flu
Most people who transition to a Keto diet, end up experiencing something known as the Keto flu. The symptoms are usually fatigue, nausea, brain fog, irritability, and headache. This happens because how this diet forces body to alternate its fuel source from sugar to fats, in turn, the liver starts converting stored fat into ketones. Also, the body proportionally starts excreting more sodium via urine to the amount of insulin reduced. All of this combined results in a sudden shock to the brain and organs and two to three days are required to adapt to this change. In some cases, people can experience the Keto flu for up to a week; however, increasing the amount of salt and fat is recommended for a smooth transition.
5. Ketones for the Brain
While 25% of the energy utilized by the brain comes from glucose, it can readily use ketones for heightened functionality. Since carbohydrates are very little in the diet, the process called gluconeogenesis takes place in the liver. In this process, amino acids from the abundant protein are processed by the liver to create glucose, this is the body’s way to ensure that the brain is receiving adequate energy. Similarly, fatty acids can also give rise to glucose. As for ketones in the brain, they are known to reduce the number of reactive oxygen species, which is a type molecule that hinders the antioxidant activity in the brain, and also damages both DNA and RNA. Moreover, increased ketones in the brain are thought to fight against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.
6. Not good for the Heart
Although the Keto diet has numerous benefits, there are some downsides associated with it as well. Since it is high in both saturated and trans fat, it is known to increase the amount of cholesterol in the body, which causes atrial fibrillation and other cardiovascular diseases. While doctors recommend that people should limit their fat intake on a Keto diet; however, doing so also results in the return of the Keto flu.
7. Long-term effects are Unknown
A lot of studies have been conducted on the short-term effects of this diet; however, doctors are unclear on how it would benefit or harm the body in the long run despite it being created in the early 1900s. Still, it is recommended that people don’t transition in and out of this diet because it can place a huge strain on the metabolism, which can cause permanent damage to the body.
8. Gaining Popularity
Since this diet has been glamorized by movie personalities and the fitness industry that are idolized by the general public, it is not a surprise that people are following this diet religiously. According to the statistics, in 2018, nearly 3% of the population was on a Keto diet; however, this number doubled within a year, and 6% of people were following this diet in the United States alone. While its growth in the Eastern countries is slower, it is gaining popularity, nonetheless.
9. Mouth Freshener is a Necessity
There are three forms of ketones; Acetoacetic acid, Beta-hydroxybutyrate, and Acetones. While the first two are relatively odorless when metabolized by the body, acetone on the other hand is known to produce a smell similar to nail-paint remover. This combined with a fruity note of ketones results in a fermented smell. In addition to bad breath, the keto diet also makes sweat and urine have a foul smell as well, but bad breath is noted more frequently.
10. Compromised Performance
Despite the Keto diet having a cult-like following in the fitness industry, studies have shown that it compromises peak performance. As the body slips into ketosis, not only the body starts to lose fat but it also shrinks the muscle mass. Moreover, it was seen that body becomes overall more acidic during ketosis, which also limits athletes to perform their best.