The whole foods that compose a low-carb diet are similar to what humans have been eating for thousands of years. The recent popularity of low-carb diets, however, has come with a new scientific recognition of their health benefits. Scientific studies of varying quality and duration show low-carb diets generally less that grams of carbohydrates per day and ketogenic diets less than grams of carbohydrates per day provide numerous health benefits including. Unfortunately, no matter how popular they may be, and despite the numerous health benefits identified in the scientific literature, many physicians continue to think of low-carb and ketogenic diets as unhealthy and dangerous. Why is there such a disconnect? The answer may be due to a lack of familiarity with the science behind low-carb diets. This guide explains the science and examines the misconceptions associated with low-carb diets. If you are a healthcare practitioner, we hope this guide will help you reconsider the risk-benefit balance of low-carb diets. If you are not a healthcare practitioner, this guide may be able to prepare you for the most common concerns healthcare providers have. Your own experiences with a low-carb diet, plus this guide, can help your doctor better understand the potential benefits of a low-carb diet.
Recently, many of my patients have been asking about a ketogenic diet. Is a ketogenic diet safe? Would you recommend it? Despite the recent hype, a ketogenic diet is not something new. In medicine, we have been using it for almost years to treat drug-resistant epilepsy, especially in children. In the s, Dr. Atkins popularized his very-low-carbohydrate diet for weight loss that began with a very strict two-week ketogenic phase. Over the years, other fad diets incorporated a similar approach for weight loss. In essence, it is a diet that causes the body to release ketones into the bloodstream. In the absence of circulating blood sugar from food, we start breaking down stored fat into molecules called ketone bodies the process is called ketosis.
The ketogenic diet is a high- fat, adequate- protein, low-carbohydrate diet that in medicine is used mainly to treat hard-to-control refractory epilepsy in children. The diet forces the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates. Normally carbohydrates in food are converted into glucose, which is then transported around the body and is important in fueling brain function. But if little carbohydrate remains in the diet, the liver converts fat into fatty acids and ketone bodies, the latter passing into the brain and replacing glucose as an energy source. An elevated level of ketone bodies in the blood a state called ketosis eventually lowers the frequency of epileptic seizures. The original therapeutic diet for paediatric epilepsy provides just enough protein for body growth and repair, and sufficient calories [Note 1] to maintain the correct weight for age and height. The classic therapeutic ketogenic diet was developed for treatment of paediatric epilepsy in the s and was widely used into the next decade, but its popularity waned with the introduction of effective anticonvulsant medications. This classic ketogenic diet contains a ratio by weight of fat to combined protein and carbohydrate.