Ketogenic Diet: The regime that favors fat and protein over carbohydrates is examined by a healthy weight-loss expert.
In this story I have described, with real facts, what happens when we deprive our food of carbohydrate sources, a pillar of the ketogenic diet. But if this restrictive menu leaves people like this, then why do so many lay people and professionals defend it? Let’s start at the beginning.
The ketogenic diet arose in the early years of the 20th century as a treatment for patients with seizures. However, the lower availability of glucose in the blood, our brain’s preferred nutrient, reduces the frequency and intensity of seizures. But I will reinforce what I just wrote: glucose is the preferred nutrient in our brain. That is, for those who do not suffer from specific neurological conditions, the limitation of it comes to shake the cognition (if you can not pay attention to this text, it may be a lack of glucose).
In short, after that the ketogenic diet received several different names and surnames, gaining popularity. Her reputation for rapid weight loss has spread – and, in fact, she promotes an accelerated decrease in the numbers of the scale. Except this has nothing to do with burning fat.
Follow me: carbohydrate deprivation reduces our glycogen stores, which is the way glucose stores itself in the muscles and liver. To be stored, glycogen needs to bind to water molecules, which weigh. Therefore, by scratching the carbohydrate in the menu and consuming more foods rich in fat and protein, the weight decreases quickly even.
But do not be fooled. This reduction occurs by the loss of lean mass (muscles and water). Body fat is still intact. In practice, you lose weight by gaining weight.
And that story that by eating more fat, we force our body to burn more fat? In fact this also occurs, however the final bill does not close. In summary, the amount of fat ingested far outweighs the total amount of fat burned.
The end result of the ketogenic diet:
We lose muscles (and their weight), we lose our temper and we get frustrated, because this deprivation is not sustainable.
Recently, a publication has shown this fact scientifically. The scientists tested two feeds, one with predominance of carbohydrate sources and one with a lower proportion. The ability to make decisions after these two situations was tested. In the end, it was emphasized that the lower intake of carbohydrates makes people more vulnerable to the opinions of others.
That is, you lose your convictions. It is as if the brain implored: solve this dispute soon and go eat, preferably a candy.
If the ketogenic diet is your choice for some belief, remember that faith does not require proof. Now, if it is for a specific reason, like actually losing weight, be aware of the above facts. And good choice!
Protein diet neither slims nor make muscles grow
This nutrient is important for health and physical fitness maintenance – but when consumed in excess, it does not bring additional benefits. On the contrary!
Who does not remember someone who did that protein diet? Or that you just enrolled in the gym and went out and bought a box of eggs?
Well, we are watching an old movie that always comes back – and that, by the way, is far from deserving an Oscar in the category Maintenance of Physical Fitness. Why then does protein continue a tremendous box-office success among people who want to lose weight? The story behind this myth is interesting (and begins with another nutrient).
The carbohydrate we eat is present in our muscles and liver along with water. Every 1 gram of carbohydrate stored in the body will have the inseparable company of 2.7 grams of water.
That is, the more carbohydrate in the body, the more water we will have. One can say, Oh, the carbohydrate swells! Not really. The swelling comes when we swallow a salty food or exaggerate the alcoholic beverage – think of that typical combination of barbecue and beer at the weekend. This double causes the retention of water outside the cells. Already the carbohydrate promotes a hydration inside the muscular cells. In addition to changing the appearance, the accumulation of fluids outside the cells compresses blood vessels and raises blood pressure. Within them, this does not occur.
It turns out that the water used to store carbohydrate increases the weight on the scale – and makes people think they have gained body fat. Result: foods with more carbohydrate saw villains …. and those with more protein, heroes.
Unlike carbohydrate and fat, the protein can not be stored in the body. What we ingest is used as a raw material to form body proteins, while the surplus will be converted to carbohydrate fundamentally (the excess nitrogen will be eliminated in the urine). Oops, so the excess protein turns to carbohydrate, not more muscles? Exactly. It’s no use cutting carbohydrate to consume more protein … which will turn into carbohydrate anyway.
Oh, but when I train to increase muscle mass I need a lot more protein. Not so much. In the studies, the highest intake that had an effect on muscle gain in active individuals was on the order of 2 grams of protein per day per pound of body weight, against 0.8 grams for the sedentary. And attention: we are talking about the amount of nutrient, not the food that carries it.
The explanation for not needing a huge supply of food proteins is simple. Part of the protein already present in various body tissues is constantly degraded, resulting in amino acids that will be used for another protein synthesis. It is like reusing the bricks intact from a demolition to build a new home. Our organism is intelligent!
In addition, the muscle is composed of 70% water. That’s right, 70%! As we said at the beginning, what pushes the water further into the muscle cells is the carbohydrate. Therefore, balancing the food makes more sense than giving priority to this or that nutrient.
But if I still want to follow a protein diet, can I suffer some health impairment? The answer is yes. We recently published an article in which we emphasized that the excess of this nutrient would generate undigested residues in the intestine, activating enzymes that digest the protein in the colon. Translating, too much meat, eggs and the like may result in a greater inflammatory bowel response – which, incidentally, is undesirable for those who want to lose weight or get stronger.
The Dangers of a Ketogenic Diet?
There are several misconceptions about low carbohydrate diets that end up demonizing.
In recent years several studies have revealed that it is not quite like that, but like everything else in life, nothing is all good and everything is not bad, but there are things that have far more benefits than curses.
People usually get somewhat confused by diets high in carbohydrates and fats, which are terrible for the body, both in terms of health and in terms of body composition. As a rule when we eat lots of foods that contain fat in somewhat high doses and sugar to the same extent as hundreds of products that we find in supermarkets, we are deliberately entering the problem.
So what happens bad with our body when we start a Ketogenic diet?
Basically we will have a persistent headache during the early stages of the diet because our body is accustomed to process carbohydrates and uses them for energy, and over time it has adapted to use a certain number of enzymes to assist in the process, far superior to those you use to deal with fat, and then suddenly everything changes (much less carbohydrates and a lot more fat), which means having to adopt a completely different enzymatic scheme.
As we do induce in a ketogenic state, the body will naturally use the remainder of its glucose, meaning it will deplete most of the glycogen stores, which can cause general lack of energy and lethargy, and in the first few weeks many people complain in:
- Mental fog;
- Flu-like symptoms (known as keto-influenza);
So basically we will all have a week with the period, more day less day, which actually occurs due to, most often result from the release of electrolytes derived from the diuretic effect of ketosis. We should make sure we drink plenty of water and keep sodium intake somewhat high to help retain water in the body and with it important electrolytes for vital functions.
For a person who is starting a ketogenic diet by eating 25-40 grams of carbohydrates a day, the total adjustment process will take about 2 weeks, so we advise reducing them to less than 15 grams to ensure that the intake in ketosis in about a week.
We will certainly note that we will initially lose some strength and endurance until our body adapts to using ketones as an energy source and then our normal levels have returned and even several studies suggest that they will in some cases do so at a higher level, stable energy throughout the day, without the usual crash derived from the consumption of carbohydrates.
But it is always good to be careful before starting a new diet. Especially one with such peculiar characteristics. High consumption of fatty foods can also raise blood cholesterol levels.
In addition, an ideal diet considers health more than weight loss and takes into account, mainly, the constancy and long-term effects. Avoiding what many people see happen as soon as they stop the diet: double mass gain. This can be fatal for many.
Look for a specialist before starting any diet. It will be able to better assess your needs and indicate a recipe that works effectively. But know that healthy, balanced food is rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and lots of water. And it is not possible for the body to burn calories just sitting on the couch. So, besides eating well, move! This is the secret.
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