Ketogenic Diet for Weight Loss


While ketogenic diets have long been used to control epileptic seizures in children, they have also been used in recent years to achieve weight loss. The ketogenic diet emphasizes high fat intake in conjunction with moderate levels of protein and low amounts of carbohydrates. While studies have shown clear success in controlling epileptic seizures, fewer data are available regarding the diet's efficacy as a weight-loss plan, although some results show promise.

Ketogenic Weight Loss Theory
In a ketogenic diet, the ratio of fat intake to the combined intake of protein and carbohydrates is 4-to-1. This high fat intake increases ketosis, a process that converts fat into ketone bodies and fatty acids that the body can use as a source of energy instead of glucose. The theory is that with the increase of ketones and the reduction of carbohydrates, the body will soon begin to burn ketones, allowing the body to more efficiently tap the energy stored in fat.

Critics of these diets have called ketosis the body's emergency response to chronic starvation resulting from a shortage of carbohydrates. The general claim of these critics is that the body prefers glucose and that the process of ketosis is dangerous and even life-threatening.

One 2004 study in the Annals of Internal Medicine compared a low-carb ketogenic diet to a low-fat diet in treating obesity. The researchers found that over a period of 24 weeks, the participants who followed the low-carb diet lost more body weight and reduced higher quantities of fat than did those who followed a low-fat diet.

Meals
Breakfast foods in the typical ketogenic diet include bacon, eggs, ham and flourless crepes. Lunch and dinner may include tuna salad, cheeseburgers, shrimp, chicken, chili, tacos and grilled steak. Side dishes and snacks may include split pea soup, coleslaw, pecans, chicken salad and cheese sticks. Dessert choices may include cheesecake, peanut-butter cookies, and strawberry-banana trifle. The diet stresses alternative sweeteners over sugar, and ingredients such as coconut oil and flax oil are known to increase levels of ketones. The diet is fairly flexible, provided the 4-to-1 ratio of fat to protein and carbohydrate ratio is maintained.