You’ll agree with me that...
recently, there seems to be a lot of buzz about the Keto diet in Nigeria.
it’s a very effective weight loss diet and it can probably cure almost every health problem under the sun.
Are these big claims really true?
Well, you’re in sweet luck today because this post tells you everything (I mean Everything) you need to know about Ketogenic (or keto) diet...
And if it’s worth your time to try out or not.
Here's the table of content of this Keto Diet Nigeria Guide for quick Navigation.
First, ladies and gentlemen permit to me to take you back in time for some quick history lesson..
Quick History Of The Ketogenic Diet
If you thought keto was discovered yesterday, then you’re in for a shocker!
Believe it or not, the whole ketogenic diet idea was first introduced in the 1920’s as a treatment for the brain disorder; epilepsy.
Before then, the way the ancient guys managed epilepsy was by drilling holes in the patient skull. This practice is known as "Trepanation".
Then, one time around 400 BC, there was a patient who was not responding to the regular treatment. He had seizures for five days.
But on the 6th day, something interesting happened...
Hippocrates, the ancient Greek doctor, noticed that as the patient abstained from both food and drink, there were no further seizures.
Later, in 1000 AD,
Avicenna — a Persian physician famous for coining the term “epilepsy” from the Greek word epilambanein (meaning to seize or attack), speculated that “overfeeding” may be a risk factor for epilepsy.
So, by the year 1911, some Persian doctors started to try fasting as a treatment option for children with epilepsy.
While at the same time in the US, Bernarr McFadden (a physical culturist) was claiming anything could be cured through 3 days to 3 weeks fasting.
Now, modern neuroscience tells us that there is a link between what we eat (or don’t) with many brain disorders including epilepsy.
So, these old-school doctors were really up to something.
But unfortunately, fasting isn’t the easiest or most fun thing in the world to do.
So, scientists went back to the drawing board, trying to answer the question:
Could we reap the health benefits of fasting without actually fasting?
In 1921, Rollin Woodyatt (an endocrinology researcher) found out that both "starvation"... and... a low-carb, very high fat-diet leads to the same chemical environment.
In the same year, Dr. Russell Wilder and others at the Mayo Clinic experimented with what He called the “ketogenic diet”.
They discovered that the ketogenic diet helped children with epilepsy get better and also behave and think better.
As a result, in 1940 the ketogenic diet was accepted as a treatment for childhood epilepsy. And was found in medical textbooks throughout the 20th century.
However, anti-epileptic drugs were later introduced. And this more convenient alternative lead to less interest in keto diet.
Fast forward to 2016, scientists hinted that not only children’s brains may benefit from a ketogenic diet. People that might also benefit includes:
- Those suffering from neurodegenerative disorders (such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s) and...
- People affected by traumatic brain injury (TBI) from events such as explosions or concussions.
So far, so good, the ketogenic diet has always been about brain disorders.
So how on earth did Keto become a weight loss and fitness thing?
Glad you asked.
You see, sometime in the 1980s and 1990s, some set of people became curious about the ketogenic diets.
However, these guys were not too interested in brain health or any of that nonsense.
They were interested in one thing and one thing only:
These people are bodybuilders and physique athletes.
The ketogenic diet seemed like a fast solution. A way to eat fatty foods like bacon, butter and the likes and still have six packs.
Fast forward to today, this old diet has become something new among people trying to lose weight, perform better and live healthier and longer.
So the big question is this:
Can keto diet really help you get your dream body, cure nearly any health problem, and help you live longer?
Well, let’s find out if the keto diet really lives up to all the hype.
First, let’s start with the basic question:
What Is Ketogenic Diet?
The ketogenic diet is dieting approach where your diet consists of...
Mostly fat (70-80%),
Moderate Protein (20-25%), and
Extremely low Carb (5-10%).
All of which is aimed at inducing your body into a state of “ketosis”
The keyword here is “Ketosis. The keto diet is all about inducing ketosis.
What Is Ketosis?
Ketosis is simply a state in which your body switches to using Ketones ‘instead’ of glucose as your primary energy source to power metabolic process.
Ketones (or ketone bodies) are just a set of organic compounds with a particular structure.
You can think of ketones as the body’s fourth energy source (after carbohydrates, fats and proteins).
Now, so you really understand what ketones and ketosis are, I want to briefly explain how the body gets and uses energy.
You see, every single thing your body does from breathing to farting, to walking, to digesting foods and so on requires energy. And your body’s main source of THIS energy is glucose.
Where does your body get this glucose from?
It's simple. From mostly carbohydrate foods like rice, vegetables, fruit, grains, beans and so on.
Now, in situations where you’re starving...or...fasting….or carb intake is low, the body releases fatty acid from stored body fat.
These fatty acids go into other cells.
And through a series of chemical reaction, I wouldn’t want to bore you with, 3 main type of Ketones (Acetate, Acetoacetate and Beta-hydroxybutryrate) are then released into the blood by the liver.
Almost any cell that needs energy can grab from these ketone bodies circulating in the blood. The brain cells are usually the most energy-hungry.
In essence, Ketosis occurs when ketone bodies in the blood are higher than usual
Now, they're several ways the body can get into the state of Ketosis. Let’s quickly look at each method in details.
Ways The Body Gets Into ketosis
There is more than one way to put the body into a state of ketosis. Well, as a matter of fact, there are actually 3 ways.
The body naturally goes into a state of ketosis if you’ve been starving for about 72 hours (or less, if you’re active) by process of ketogenesis.
Ketogenesis is like the body’s energy backup system, that makes energy available through ketone bodies during starvation periods.
It is interesting to know that, how fast ketogenesis happens depends on age and specie of animal.
Babies enter a state of ketosis within a couple of hours of not eating.
And other mammals may take weeks to months without food before entering ketosis.
2. ketogenic Diet
If you’re not up for starving or dry fasting for days, then a ketogenic diet is the next best option to put your body in ketosis.
You see, you can get the same starvation effect by drastically cutting down or eliminating carbs intake (i.e glucose) and eating high fat and moderate protein ( AKA Keto diet)
And this sort of fools your body into going into a state of ketosis.
Now, note that the ketogenic diet is super restrictive.
Here are foods you can and can’t eat on the keto diet.
Foods Allowed on The Keto Diet
A large amount of food high in saturated and monounsaturated fats, like:
- coconut and coconut oil
- olive oil
- Palm oil
- nuts and nut butters
- egg yolks
A small amount of protein, like:
NB: Eating too much protein can cause the body to break down protein for fuel instead and knock your body out of ketosis.
And very low-carb and non-starchy vegetables, like:
- Brussels sprouts
Foods You Can't Eat on The Keto Diet
Grains: You can’t touch any grains (even whole grains) and foods made from grains on the keto diet. They are mostly carbs.
Beans and legumes: They are carbs, so they are untouchable on the keto diet.
Most Fruits: Fruits are nutritious, right? Sure. However, they are not fit for the keto diet because, again, they high in carbs. And that includes fruit juice, smoothies and dried fruits.
Starchy Vegetables: Vegetables that mostly grows beneath the ground (like potatoes, yam and carrot) are not allowed. The reason? Same as above, high in carb. Only green leafy vegetables are allowed.
Sugar: Of course anything sugar is definitely not allowed including sweeteners like honey, high fructose corn syrup, maple syrup and the likes.
Some Dairy: What? Is dairy not protein? Yes, but doesn't make it keto-compliant. Milk and other low or reduced-fat dairy products are not keto compliant.
Processed oils: Unfortunately, the vegetable oil you probably have in your kitchen is not keto diet friendly (even if it’s fat). Processed oils like groundnut oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil and likes are not allowed.
Processed/packaged Foods: it’s no secret that processed foods are full of sugar (carbs) and other nasty stuff. So, they are definitely not welcome on the keto diet.
Alcohol: Sorry, alcohol is a no-go on the keto diet. You are to avoid all types of alcohol including beer, spirit, wine and the rest.
Artificial Sweeteners: Most artificial sweeteners should be avoided because some people find them to disrupt their ketosis.
Now, you get the Idea when I said the keto diet was restrictive.
However, there have been attempts to make the keto diet less restrictive. So, there have been slight modifications to the original ketogenic diet.
Here they are...
Types of keto Dieting
The Standard Ketogenic Diet(SDK) - The classic keto diet
The Targeted Ketogenic Diet(TKD) - Add carbs around exercise
The Cyclical Ketogenic Diet(CKD) - Go in and out of ketosis in planned intervals.
The High-Protein Ketogenic Diet - Eat more protein than on the SDK
Now, for the last way to get into ketosis...
If it is ketones we are really interested in, why not make it artificially instead having to go through the torture of fasting or low-carb, high-fat diet?
So, as far back as 1953, researchers started looking into the possibility of “artificially” inducing ketosis by supplementation.
Now, we know it’s possible to increase ketones in the blood by supplementation without fasting (or starving) or going on a keto diet.
Well, as a matter fact, they are thousands of company ready to sell ketones supplements to you as I write.
But the important question is:
Can ketone supplementation provide us with the supposed health benefit of ketosis without going on a ketogenic diet or starvation (or fasting)?
Unfortunately, till date, there are no conclusive human studies to give us the answer.
You see, most of the ketone supplementation experiment has been conducted using rats. And the results were mixed. Nothing concrete.
You can hardly find any clinical studies for human trails.
So, don’t believe the hype from any ketone supplement company (or person) trying to sell you ketone supplement.
There isn’t enough evidence the supplements are any useful for majority of people.
Is the Ketogenic Diet (or ketosis) Useful?
Well, the answer is shaky. Why don’t I give you some facts about some common so-called health of keto, so you judge for yourself.
Let’s start with…
Can keto diet (ketosis) Help You Lose Weight?
The keto diet (and not ketosis) can help you lose weight, in the short term.
You see, when you’re on any low carb diet (including keto), you’ll “lose weight” fast at the beginning. And there are two reasons for that
- You’re forced to eat more protein and fat. And protein and fat stimulate the release of satiety hormones (like CCK) that tells your brain you’re full.
So at end of the day, you eat less and you’re often less hungry. (by the way, when all you can eat is mostly fat and protein, I’m pretty sure you won’t be having much appetite.)|
Note This: It’s the “eating less” part that causes weight loss and not insulin or ketosis nonsense.
- It takes 4 grams of water to store a gram of glycogen (stored carb).
So when you reduce carbs, you lose some water and glycogen. And this gives the illusion of rapid weight loss at the beginning of the diet. Unfortunately, when you get back to eating normally, all the water comes back.
That said, keto is a difficult diet to stick to for the long-term. When you can't keep up and eventually come off the diet, you end up gaining back all the weight and some more for good measures.
The point is, ketosis seems to have no special benefit for weight loss. What makes you lose weight on the keto diet is the eating less (or calorie deficit).
However, losing weight on the keto diet is not sustainable for permanent weight loss. And we both know that it’s not about how much weight you lose but how much weight you keep off.
Can keto Diet (ketosis) Make You Live Longer?
Another often talked about benefit of keto diet (or ketosis) is that of longevity. Is it really true?
Well, the answer is “we don’t know for sure”
You see, for us to able to say for sure that ketosis leads to longevity, we need scapegoats.
We need brave individuals who are willing to stick to keto diet for life
So we see how long they live compared to their non-keto peers.
Can keto Diet (ketosis) Cure Metabolic Diseases?
Fasting is well known to be an effective short-term remedy for many metabolic dysfunctions like Chronic inflammation, hypertension or early Type 2 diabetes.
Now the problem is this:
Scientist can’t say for sure if fasting is effective because of ketosis or other mechanisms (like apoptosis i.e programmed cell death) that happens when we fast.
In any case, some studies hint that in some metabolic cases (such as type 2 diabetics), ketosis might be helpful as a short-term treatment or improvement in metabolic processes.
In that case, a ketogenic diet ..or… a structured intermittent fasting done under medical supervision can be helpful as part of the whole treatment therapy of some metabolic diseases
Can keto Diet (ketosis) Improve Brain Health?
For one thing, we know ketosis is helpful for epilepsy and probably some other brain illness like Alzheimer and Parkinson.
Also, studies show that ketones bring about improvement in rats with traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Based off of all that, there’s a probability that ketones can help improve brain function.
Can keto Diet (ketosis) Help In Gaining Lean Muscle Mass?
Carbs when digested (i.e glucose) stimulates the release of the storage hormone insulin. Insulin help in transporting nutrients into cells.
Not only that, Insulin is also considered an anabolic hormone (building up tissues)
In essence, insulin plus other hormones like growth hormone and testosterone are needed to create an anabolic environment for muscle growth.
The ketogenic diet leads to lower insulin levels.
So, trying to build lean muscle on a keto diet (or while in ketosis) is like trying to hold water in a basket. It just won’t work.
The best way to build lean muscle is through an appropriate anabolic diet that includes carbs (particularly around training session).
Can keto Diet (ketosis) Increase Athletic performance?
As athletes perform they need constant fuel.
Now, the advantage of ketosis is that you don’t experience glycogen depletion (AKA bonking) because you are not using glycogen as your primary energy source.
Therefore you require little to no refuelling from carbs like sugary energy drinks as you compete.
In essence, fat oxidation increases, you spare glycogen, produce less lactate and use less oxygen at a submaximal rate.
Make sense, however, there is a problem.
You see, the issue with using fat and ketone bodies as an energy source is that you won’t move as fast as you can when compared to using glucose and carbohydrates.
In other words, you become slower. And this is a nightmare for most athletes.
That said, a study showed a small performance improvement in cyclists who used ketone supplementation combined with carb supplementation compared to using only carbohydrate supplementation.
So, it might be more beneficial for athletes to combine ketones with carbs, instead of using exclusive one or the other.
Dangers & Side Effects of The Ketogenic Diet
First, one of the dangers of transitioning to ketosis is Dehydration.
This happens because of the water loss that comes with glycogen depletion and lowered insulin levels.
In fact, most of the other temporary side effects of the keto diet are as a result of dehydration and low carb levels (while the body is still trying to use carbs as its primary energy source).
Some of which includes:
- Brain fog
- Stomach pain
These symptoms are supposed to go once the body has fully switched into ketosis.
Also, many consider the keto diet to cause kidney problems. There is still a debate about that.
If you don’t have a history of kidney disease or dysfunctions, you are less likely to have problems. However, you should always check with a doctor before starting a keto diet.
My Personal Take On The Keto Diet
First and foremost, I like the fact that keto is promoting the eating of healthy fats (which has been demonized for years)
Now, if you’re suffering from some sort of brain problem or metabolic problem or whatever, and you doctors advised you to do keto, then go for it by all means.
Now, for the rest of the general population
Eating 70% fat with little carbs is not realistic, especially for people who want to follow the ketogenic lifestyle in Nigeria. It completely takes the joy of eating away.
I’ll be the first to tell you, people promoting the keto diet are trying to sell you something else other than weight loss or a healthy lifestyle. They have keto supplements, books, recipes and the likes to sell you.
Listen, if it’s weight loss you’re after, then the only two things that matters are the number of calories and the quality of calories you consume. Period!
I’m not a big fan of “diets”. They are not sustainable.
I’ve said it... I'll say it ... and I'll always say it...
The only permanent and most effective weight loss diet is simply a balanced diet. And keto is far from balanced. You’ll be missing out the good nutrients (and phytonutrients) healthy carbs have to offer.
Conclusion & Take Away
In conclusion, the keto diet is not so new as people might think. It’s been around since the 1920s.
ketosis may have a short-term benefit for people who suffer from some brain issues and some types of metabolic disorder. Other than that, for the majority of people, ketosis has little to no effect.
Most of the other benefit of ketosis (or ketogenic diet) you hear have no conclusive scientific evidence to prove them right.
And the ketogenic diet is too hard and restrictive to consistently follow for permanent weight loss.
Finally, if you still want to try out the keto diet or any diet for that matter, please check with your physician.
Also people with kidney problems and type 1 diabetes are advised to stay away from the keto diet.
Now, It's Your Turn
Tell me in the comment section what feel about the keto deit. Have your tried it? ...or... will you be trying it?