Author: Mariam Lakdawala (Registered Dietician)
With every 3rd patient walking up to me and asking for a ketogenic diet, I was curious to know if it is really a healthy way to lose weight. I typed ketogenic diet on Google, and was surprised to see so many trial diets, websites offering delivery of ketogenic diet foods and what not. This abundance of information, probably is the reason why many go on this diet on their own without the guidance of a qualified nutritionist. However, a word of caution here! Beware of the authenticity of the information available on the web.
Ketogenic diet came into existence in the early 1920’s for helping in decreasing the number of seizures (fits) in children suffering from epilepsy. It has shown to significantly decrease the number of seizures in cases of refractory seizures wherein medications were not helping the patients much (1). In 1960’s, Dr. Robert Atkins introduced another diet similar to ketogenic diet for weight loss and termed it as Atkins diet. The diet was widely followed, but soon lost its charm after the death of Dr. Atkin which was then believed to be due to a cardiac arrest as a result of Atkins diet.
Ketogenic diet is a high fat, moderate protein and low carbohydrate diet wherein 80% of the total energy comes from fat, 10-15% from proteins and 5-10% from carbohydrates. Atkins diet is a high fat, high protein and a very low carbohydrate diet. For weight loss, what currently is trending and preferred is a modified ketogenic or a modified Atkins diet as the modified diets are slightly liberal in terms of carbohydrate and proteins allowance than the ketogenic/Atkins diets in their pure forms.
What happens in these diets is that, the very low carbohydrate content (<50%) causes the body to burn fat stores and produce ketone bodies, which are the preferred source of energy by the brain in the absence of glucose. In short, the body goes into a fat burning spree.
Modified ketogenic diet can be helpful only if followed under the supervision of a qualified dietician. To agree with me, take a look at some common mistakes made by people following a self-supervised diet.
Likewise switching off from the ketogenic diet to any other diet has to be done carefully. Weight regain is commonly seen in people who suddenly stop the diet and go back to their carbohydrate rich diet.
Keeping all these common mistakes in mind, next time when you decide to go on a high fat – Modified Ketogenic Diet for weight loss, make sure you do it under the supervision of a qualified dietician.