PopularSurprising SciencePersonal GrowthMind & BrainSex & RelationshipsTechnology & InnovationCulture & ReligionPolitics & Current Affairs
Former Navy Seal
International Poker Champion
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
from the world's big
from the world's big
Because of course one ketogenic diet isn't enough.
05 November, 2018
The standard ketogenic diet. Photo: Shutterstock
- The traditional ketogenic diet requires only 5% carbohydrate intake per day.
- Alternatives considered "less restrictive" are gaining in popularity.
- What you get out of each diet depends on what you're trying to accomplish.
<p>Twenty years ago, while I was working as a reporter in Princeton, I met a vegetarian butcher. She was a hearty Russian grandmother, very reminiscent of my own. Day after day she sliced meat in her deli but refrained from indulging—except, she told me, around Thanksgiving. Then she allowed herself a few slices of turkey. </p><p>I've given up trying to follow the many strange strains of diets we concoct. Was the butcher truly vegetarian? Activists would say no. Yet is "mostly vegetarian" a vegetarian? Do a few slices of meat per year matter that much in the larger scope of nutritional content? </p><p>I've met vegans who eat eggs and have heard it argued that shellfish can be part of a vegan diet. There's that weird philosophy about nightshades ruining meditation, and we can spend hours debating biblical-era food rules. Recently, at the farmer's market, a woman at the Korean stand asked if tempeh has protein, because she was on a "no protein diet." Too many layers to dissect there. </p><p>Of course keto fans would have to confuse things further. Instead of saying, "I've reduced carbs a bit," the following four keto-esque diets are gaining steam. Not that any of these diets are bad, mind you—carb reduction, as mentioned, is positive for many people. Before we dive into the varieties, let's start at the beginning.</p><p>On it's most basic level, a ketogenic diet requires restricting your daily carbohydrate intake to under 50 grams a day to force your body to burn stored fat instead of glucose for energy. This generally means eating 85 percent fats, 10 percent protein, and 5 percent carbs, though I've seen differing variations of the fat/protein trade-off. The 5 percent carbs standard is the constant in what we associate with getting into <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-is-ketosis" target="_blank">ketosis.</a></p>
Mild Keto Diet<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xODc5Nzg3Ny9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0ODYwMTYyMX0.QPCgXkLt6WUPi1NCntvjXx87yYfu1NUm7NL_gwTki_s/img.png?width=980" id="e9247" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="009fa65c728defe2984bf38714616f62" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Source: Perfect Keto<p><strong></strong>As mentioned above, this diet is basically just carb reduction. Your daily fat intake is still high, at around 60-65 percent, with protein coming in at 20 percent and carbs making up the other 15-20%. This diet is popular among those who feel that a full ketogenic diet misses the consumption of essential nutrients. <a href="https://www.bodyandsoul.com.au/diet/diets/everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-mild-keto-diet/news-story/e95964d3ff904e88bfc63e3e9feeaf32" target="_blank">According to</a> Kate Save, co-founder of a weight loss meal service: </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">Full keto [focuses] on macronutrient whereas mild keto focuses on nutrition and micronutrients so you're not [focusing] on where the calories are coming from you're looking at the diet as a whole. Plus, mild keto ensures that you can still eat from all five food groups which makes it easier to get 100 per cent of the recommended daily intake of vitamins and minerals.</p>
Cyclical Keto Diet<p>As explained <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/cyclical-ketogenic-diet#what-it-is" target="_blank">here</a>, this diet is similar to carb cycling, with slight variations. Carb cycling means four-to-six days on a low-carb diet while the other one-to-three are in the higher range. The problem is that this doesn't get you into ketosis. And so to utilize ketones, keto cycling diet requires that 75 percent of your calories are from fat on five-six days a week, keeping carbs under 10 percent. "Re-feeding" days involve eating carbs for 60-70 percent of your total calories on one-two days per week. </p><p>You want to get your carbs from whole foods sources, such as oats, quinoa, sweet potatoes, and beans, and avoid bread and baked goods, or other high-sugar processed foodstuffs. This diet is used by bodybuilders and athletes looking to maximize weight loss. </p>
High Protein Keto Diet<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xODgwMDcwMC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzODAwMDk4OH0.Ctgq0sdCyzdKyQBkjdgdlDbByA61xbbSeE5FsQvaYm4/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C52%2C0%2C53&height=700" id="21a06" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="d7a89e8e8351ab6ba69fe273ef605ff2" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Targeted Keto Diet<p>This diet is specifically linked to carb consumption as it revolves around your workouts. Forget gorging on pasta the night before a marathon—the details are much greater. You want to consume 25-50 grams of carbs thirty minutes to an hour before working out. These are the only carbs you eat that day.</p><p>According to Steph Lodge writing for <a href="https://perfectketo.com/keto-diet-types/" target="_blank">Perfect Keto</a>: </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">The TKD is a hybrid between the standard ketogenic diet and the cyclical ketogenic diet. It allows you to train at higher intensities at the gym, but doesn't force you out of ketosis for extended periods of time (as with the CKD).</p>
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ffd92f4855e3415359c651410f8d6975"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/H7mjm9LyW-c?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>I appreciate the above site simply because it states that TKD is dependent upon goals. Too many sources treat ketogenic diets as a panacea to all sorts of health problems. But underlying this is the reality that we do eat too many carbohydrates, which often leads to weight gain, which then has the potential to lead to all sorts of diseases. </p><p>As I <a href="https://bigthink.com/surprising-science/does-the-ketogenic-diet-work" target="_self">recently wrote</a>, there is credible evidence linking ketogenic diets to potential decreases in incidences of cancer and diabetes. It doesn't take reams of data to understand that more carbohydrates equals more obesity equals more health problems. All of the ketogenic diets in the world point to a simple fact: we eat too much sugar in all its many carbohydrate forms. Reduce that, and common sense dictates that problems start to solve themselves.</p><p>--</p><p><span></span><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a> and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a>.</em></p>
Keep reading Show less
Anatomy and physiology professor David Harper claims a recent study in The Lancet is flawed.
22 October, 2018
- The low-carbohydrate group in a recent Lancet study were typically middle-aged, obese, sedentary, diabetic smokers.
- The study was not a randomized, controlled, double-blind experiment.
- Harper has been in ketosis for six years, and says it has profound effects on cancer patients, among other chronic ailments.
<p>Here we go again.</p><p>For nearly three years I've written about varying aspects of the ketogenic diet. I was <a href="https://bigthink.com/21st-century-spirituality/your-diet-might-be-causing-anxiety-and-depression" target="_self">initially a fan</a>, given that switching from a decades-long, carb-heavy vegetarian diet to a paleo-friendly, ketogenic diet eradicated my chronic history with gastrointestinal problems, stopped the hundreds of panic attacks I've suffered in my life cold, and caused me to shed ten pounds in three weeks. </p><p>As with many fad diets, I was not alone. Advocates appeared in droves. Yet as the hype progressed, the ketogenic diet started being treated as a panacea for all the world's nutritional problems, making it the perfect time to become suspicious. </p><p>As with anything scientific, some were always skeptical. Yet the foundational message of ketosis is sound: we eat too many carbs, especially in the form of processed foodstuffs and sugars. You never need to gorge only on sweet potatoes or intermittent fast to understand this—though, to be fair, perhaps the <a href="https://bigthink.com/surprising-science/does-intermittent-fasting-work" target="_self">most beneficial advice</a> of this entire trend is that we eat too much over too many hours of the day. There's something to be said for <em>not</em> eating for stretches of time. </p><p>Then a <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanpub/article/PIIS2468-2667(18)30135-X/fulltext" target="_blank">recent study</a>, published in <em>The Lancet Public Health</em>, seemed to have <a href="https://bigthink.com/stephen-johnson/no-one-should-be-doing-the-ketogenic-diet-says-former-president-of-the-american-college-of-cardiology" target="_blank">the final say</a>: </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">Both high and low percentages of carbohydrate diets were associated with increased mortality, with minimal risk observed at 50–55% carbohydrate intake. Low carbohydrate dietary patterns favouring animal-derived protein and fat sources, from sources such as lamb, beef, pork, and chicken, were associated with higher mortality, whereas those that favoured plant-derived protein and fat intake, from sources such as vegetables, nuts, peanut butter, and whole-grain breads, were associated with lower mortality, suggesting that the source of food notably modifies the association between carbohydrate intake and mortality.</p>
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="39417d11e48bac1259b2e55f47acc52f"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/6acJ3cj9Ym4?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Given that ketogenic diets generally call for 70-80 percent fat intake, with no more than 50 grams of carbohydrates a day—a 16-oz Caramel Frappuccino comes in at 60 grams, along with 59 grams of sugar—<em>The Lancet</em>'s call for half your calories being derived from carbohydrate sources seemed to be the proverbial nail. </p><p>Not so fast. </p><p>Anatomy and physiology professor David Harper has been on a ketogenic diet for six years. Like me, he experienced immediate weight loss—22 pounds in 12 weeks. (And like me, he was not overweight; the drop occurred in midsection fat.) So Harper, a cancer researcher, looked beyond the results to methods and found the study <a href="https://vancouversun.com/opinion/op-ed/david-harper-keto-diet-a-healthy-alternative-to-the-standard-western-diet" target="_blank">flawed</a>: </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">First, <em>The Lancet</em> study did not consider ketogenic diets. Their limits for "low carbohydrate" are between 30 and 40 per cent of total calories, so participants in this group were never in a state of nutritional ketosis. Second, the low-carbohydrate group in the study were typically middle-aged, obese, sedentary, diabetic smokers. No surprise they found a few years shorter life-span. Third, this study is not a randomized, controlled, double-blind experiment—the gold standard of science.</p><p>That a study turns out to be not-quite-correct should not surprise. As John Ioannidis <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.0020124" target="_blank">wrote</a> in <em>PLOS Medicine</em> in 2005, most research findings turn out to be false. A ketogenic diet has been in use for a century as a treatment for epilepsy; Harper notes that it is being used in treatments for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer's, and cancer—he's a visiting scientist at the B.C. Cancer Research Centre.</p>
<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xODc1MDk2OS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1NzY1MjA1MX0.Hs7G6WqrM3pGXlvnvyicoT7eYvlIIe2bEku3_L7qhAk/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C62%2C0%2C42&height=700" id="4bc21" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="27b7c68d7a2a1b7fc9643ade5100a359" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Photo: Shutterstock<p>Harper attributes much of this success to the reduction of chronic inflammation in the body produced by excess carbohydrate and sugar intake. Systemic inflammation has a profound effect on cancer and the cardiovascular system. The production of ketone bodies produces health-sustaining effects in the brain and nervous system. Harper doesn't even touch the microbiome in his plea, though the influence of the enteric nervous system on the body's immune system (among others) is now well-documented.</p><p>Anecdote is not data, though I've spent a long time contemplating my own health issues. Putting cancer aside (my testicular cancer appears to have been genetic), I can speak to anxiety disorder, which I suffered from for 25 years. During most of that time I was a pescatarian, vegetarian, or vegan. Every meat or dairy product (protein and fat) I removed was calorically replaced by carbohydrates. While I generally ate little processed, packaged foods, I still consumed plenty of bread. During this period I was keeping my body in a constant state of inflammation. </p><p>While I no longer attempt ketosis, my carbohydrate levels are greatly reduced, my fat intake increased. Shortly after starting this diet, which I tried for GI issues, I was surprised by the other results: weight loss, sure, but also the complete absence of panic attacks and cessation of chronic canker sores. When your nervous system is not battling the effects of the food you're eating, your body can actually relax. </p><p>This is not medical advice. There are too many factors for any diet to be considered the best for anyone. Harper, however, doesn't want the ketogenic diet to even be considered a "diet." As he <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/ketogenic-diet-what-a-scientist-eats-2018-10" target="_blank">said</a>:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">We've been telling people to eat the wrong diet for 40 years, and we've seen the results.</p><p>He notes that he no longer craves sweet foods; instead, he reaches for butter and cream to satiate his appetite. As with anything, our addictions shift as we replace the context. Harper makes a crucial point to keto skeptics: trace our post World War II food consumption patterns and disease and you'll find a disturbing link. In a time when pretty much any food is available during any season, we're fatter and sicker than ever. </p><p>For therapeutic reasons, including weight loss, the ketogenic diet might offer real value. The general consumer might not need to go to such extremes—85 percent fat intake is a bit much for most of us. That said, the necessity of a reduction in carbs and sugars is obvious. All the charts and data in the world don't replace basic common sense. </p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a> and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a>.</em></p>
Keep reading Show less