Research Review: Lean Liver With A Low-carb Diet
Note to readers: We wrote this article in 2011. Since then, based on the latest scientific research and lots of client experience, we’ve updated and refined our position on low carb diets. To read our most recent thoughts on this topic, check out: Carb controversy: Why low-carb diets have got it all wrong. Generally people are suspicious of low-carb diets — not because of the carbs, but because of the fat. They worry: Fat makes you fat! My triglycerides and cholesterol will go up! My arteries will clog! The food pyramid says I should cut down on fat and eat more grains! Your doctor, mother, grandmother, next door neighbour and even governments have been telling you that fat is bad and a low-carb/high-fat diet might help you lose weight now, but you’re putting your health at risk. Once, even I thought that although people could (maybe, temporarily) lose weight on low-carb diets, they’d be harming their health in the process. So let’s answer this question definitively: Are you putting yourself at risk by going on a low-carb diet? No. In fact, there’s a good chance you’re making yourself healthier. The truth about low carbohydrate (aka high fat) diets Over the last decade, many studies have found that if you eat a diet that is lower in carbohydrate and higher in fat: You will lose weight. Your triglycerides will go down. Your HDL (“good”) cholesterol will go up. Your cardiovascular health will improve. Not convinced? I’m not surprised. It seems that every week there’s a new “healthy” way to eat. It’s normal to feel suspicious. Let’s look more closely at how a diet higher in carbohydrates leads to fat gain, and how that results in higher blood triglycerides. Fat doesn’t make you fat; carbohydrates make you fat For years you’ve heard “fat Continue reading >>
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The Truth About Ketosis & Low-carb Diets, Backed By Science
A lot of people are confused by the term “ketosis.” You may read that it is a “dangerous state” for the body, and it does sound abnormal to be “in ketosis.” But ketosis merely means that our bodies are using fat for energy. Ketones (also called ketone bodies) are molecules generated during fat metabolism, whether from the fat in the almonds you just ate or fat you were carrying around your middle. When our bodies are breaking down fat for energy, most of it gets converted to energy, but ketones are also produced as part of the process. When people eat less carbohydrates, their bodies turn to fat for energy, so it makes sense that more ketones are generated. Some of those ketones (acetoacetate and ß-hydroxybutyrate) are used for energy; the heart muscle and kidneys, for example, prefer ketones to glucose. Most cells, including the brain cells, are able to use ketones for at least part of their energy. Is ketosis a bad thing? There is an assumption that if a body is burning a lot of fat for energy, it must not be getting “enough” glucose. However, there is no indication, from studying people on reduced carbohydrate diets, that this is the case (though there is usually a short period of adjustment, less than a week, in most cases). It takes about 72 hours to burn up all of the reserve glycogen (sugar loads). Although it’s true that our bodies can’t break fat down directly into glucose (though, interestingly, they easily use glucose to make fat), our bodies can convert some of the protein we eat into glucose. Indeed, this works well for people who don’t tolerate a lot of sugar, because this conversion happens slowly so it doesn’t spike blood glucose. What is the danger of ketosis? It is important that if you are following a ketogenic nutritional pro Continue reading >>
Not to be confused with Ketoacidosis. Ketosis is a metabolic state in which some of the body's energy supply comes from ketone bodies in the blood, in contrast to a state of glycolysis in which blood glucose provides energy. Ketosis is a result of metabolizing fat to provide energy. Ketosis is a nutritional process characterised by serum concentrations of ketone bodies over 0.5 mM, with low and stable levels of insulin and blood glucose. It is almost always generalized with hyperketonemia, that is, an elevated level of ketone bodies in the blood throughout the body. Ketone bodies are formed by ketogenesis when liver glycogen stores are depleted (or from metabolising medium-chain triglycerides). The main ketone bodies used for energy are acetoacetate and β-hydroxybutyrate, and the levels of ketone bodies are regulated mainly by insulin and glucagon. Most cells in the body can use both glucose and ketone bodies for fuel, and during ketosis, free fatty acids and glucose synthesis (gluconeogenesis) fuel the remainder. Longer-term ketosis may result from fasting or staying on a low-carbohydrate diet (ketogenic diet), and deliberately induced ketosis serves as a medical intervention for various conditions, such as intractable epilepsy, and the various types of diabetes. In glycolysis, higher levels of insulin promote storage of body fat and block release of fat from adipose tissues, while in ketosis, fat reserves are readily released and consumed. For this reason, ketosis is sometimes referred to as the body's "fat burning" mode. Ketosis and ketoacidosis are similar, but ketoacidosis is an acute life-threatening state requiring prompt medical intervention while ketosis can be physiological. However, there are situations (such as treatment-resistant Continue reading >>
If You've Been Considering The Keto Diet, This Might Change Your Mind
The keto diet is gaining in popularity, but it's also "a dietitian's nightmare," Lisa Eberly said. We chatted with the registered dietitian to get her expert opinion on the trendy diet we've been hearing so much about. Spoiler alert: she's not into it. What Is a Keto Diet? A keto — short for ketogenic — diet is a low-carb diet, in which the body produces ketones in the liver to use as energy in lieu of carbohydrates (more on that later). Like other low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diets, keto draws people in with its promised weight-loss results. Blogs, Pinterest, and Instagram have been lighting up with "keto recipes" and meal plans, but that doesn't mean it's actually good for you. "When you eat something high in carbs, your body will produce glucose and insulin," Lisa explained. Glucose and insulin, at proper levels, are used for energy — they're also essential for a healthy, balanced body. But it's all about balance — too many carbohydrates can be detrimental. "Your body's production of glucose and insulin can become abnormal, leading to health problems, poor food cravings, and weight gain." But, she said, "that does not mean that the answer is to eliminate [or significantly reduce] them." How Does the Keto Diet Work? Lisa put it pretty simply: a ketogenic diet mimics starvation. The starvation effect causes the body to go into a metabolic state called "ketosis." In our normal state, human bodies are sugar-driven: we eat carbohydrates, carbs are broken down into glucose, and glucose usually becomes energy, or it's stored as glycogen in liver and muscle tissue. When you deprive your body of essential carbohydrate intake (Lisa noted that this is anything under 50 grams per day), then the liver goes into overdrive, because you don't have that carbohydrate-made glucose Continue reading >>
What's Up With The High-fat Diet Trend—and Does It Work?
If you're looking for the trendiest diet since Paleo, this might be it—only with more fat, way less protein, and virtually zero carbs. The ketogenic diet, which has reportedly been used by celebs like Kim Kardashian and NBA player Lebron James, is a high-fat, low-protein, low-carbohydrate diet that was originally developed to treat epilepsy in children (experts can't say for sure why it reduces the frequency of seizures, but it does seem to work). The whole diet is based on a process called ketosis, which is when your body is so depleted of carbs that your liver converts fat into fatty acids and ketone bodies, which can be used as energy, says Tracy A. Siegfried, M.D., medical director at The N.E.W. Program, a bariatric and metabolic weight-loss center in California. The ketones replace carbohydrates as your body’s main energy source, meaning you are running on (and burning) fat. To tell if your body is in a state of ketosis, you can measure your blood or urine for elevated levels of ketones (Ketostix, used to test keto-dieters ketone levels, are available at many pharmacies). If this sounds familiar, it's probably because ketosis is also the goal of the first stage of the Atkins diet. But unlike the keto diet, the Atkins diet aims to get you into a mild state of ketosis and allows for more carbohydrates. In other words, keto is more hardcore. So What the Heck Do You Eat? To get your body to reach ketosis, 80 to 90 percent of the calories you consume should come from fat, and the rest should come from a combo of protein and carbs, says Siegfried. Plus, your carb intake is limited to 10 to 35 grams per day. That's roughly the amount in a single apple, glass of milk, or piece of bread. In fact, it's pretty much impossible to eat fruit or milk-based products without su Continue reading >>
7 Dangers Of The Keto Diet | Health.com
The ketogenic dietalso known as the "keto diet" or just "keto"has become the latest big thing in weight-loss plans, touted recently by celebs like Jenna Jameson , Mama June , and Halle Berry . The diet involves cutting way back on carbohydrates, to 50 grams a day or less, to help the body achieve a state of ketosis, in which it has to burn fat (rather than sugar) for energy. Doctors say that the ketodiet can be helpful in treating epilepsy; its unclear exactly why, but something about a ketogenic state seems to reduce the frequency of seizures. Animal studies have also suggested that the diet may have anti-aging , anti-inflammatory , and cancer-fighting benefits, as well. RELATED: Jillian Michaels Slams the Keto Diet: Why Would Anyone Think This Is a Good Idea? But as a general weight-loss plan, keto is more controversial. Some health experts warn against it entirely, citing unpleasant side effects, health risks, and the diets unsustainable nature. Even many ketodiet proponents admit that, if the diets not done the right way, it can be the opposite of healthy. Here are a few things you should know about the ketogenic diet before you try it as a way to lose weight. Yes, you might drop pounds, but you should also watch out for the following side effects or complications. RELATED: Jillian Michaels Isnt the Only One Who Hates KetoThese 5 Other Experts Say Ditch the Diet Some people report that when they start ketosis, they just feel sick, says Kristen Kizer, RD, a nutritionist at Houston Methodist Medical Center. There can sometimes be vomit, gastrointestinal distress, a lot of fatigue, and lethargy. This so-called keto flu usually passes after a few days, she adds. Josh Axe, a doctor of natural medicine and clinical nutritionist, estimates that about 25% of people who try Continue reading >>
Should You Try The Keto Diet?
It's advertised as a weight-loss wonder, but this eating plan is actually a medical diet that comes with serious risks. In the world of weight-loss diets, low-carbohydrate, high-protein eating plans often grab attention. The Paleo, South Beach, and Atkins diets all fit into that category. They are sometimes referred to as ketogenic or "keto" diets. But a true ketogenic diet is different. Unlike other low-carb diets, which focus on protein, a keto plan centers on fat, which supplies as much as 90% of daily calories. And it's not the type of diet to try as an experiment. "The keto diet is primarily used to help reduce the frequency of epileptic seizures in children. While it also has been tried for weight loss , only short-term results have been studied, and the results have been mixed. We don't know if it works in the long term, nor whether it's safe," warns registered dietitian Kathy McManus, director of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital. The keto diet aims to force your body into using a different type of fuel. Instead of relying on sugar (glucose) that comes from carbohydrates (such as grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits), the keto diet relies on ketone bodies, a type of fuel that the liver produces from stored fat. Burning fat seems like an ideal way to lose pounds. But getting the liver to make ketone bodies is tricky: It requires that you deprive yourself of carbohydrates, fewer than 20 to 50 grams of carbs per day (keep in mind that a medium-sized banana has about 27 grams of carbs). It typically takes a few days to reach a state of ketosis. Eating too much protein can interfere with ketosis. Because the keto diet has such a high fat requirement, followers must eat fat at each meal. In a daily 2,000-calorie diet, t Continue reading >>
If You've Been Considering The Keto Diet, This Will Change Your Mind
The keto diet is gaining in popularity, but it's also "a dietitian's nightmare," Lisa Eberly said. We chatted with the registered dietitian to get her expert opinion on the trendy diet we've been hearing so much about. Spoiler alert: she's not into it. What Is a Keto Diet? A keto - short for ketogenic - diet is a low-carb diet, in which the body produces ketones in the liver to use as energy in lieu of carbohydrates (more on that later). Like other low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diets, keto draws people in with its promised weight-loss results. Blogs, Pinterest, and Instagram have been lighting up with "keto recipes" and meal plans, but that doesn't mean it's actually good for you. "When you eat something high in carbs, your body will produce glucose and insulin," Lisa explained. Glucose and insulin, at proper levels, are used for energy - they're also essential for a healthy, balanced body. But it's all about balance - too many carbohydrates can be detrimental. "Your body's production of glucose and insulin can become abnormal, leading to health problems, poor food cravings, and weight gain." But, she said, "that does not mean that the answer is to eliminate [or significantly reduce] them." Video: The Ketogenic Diet (Provided by The Doctors) How Does the Keto Diet Work? Lisa put it pretty simply: a ketogenic diet mimics starvation. The starvation effect causes the body to go into a metabolic state called "ketosis." In our normal state, human bodies are sugar-driven: we eat carbohydrates, carbs are broken down into glucose, and glucose usually becomes energy, or it's stored as glycogen in liver and muscle tissue. When you deprive your body of essential carbohydrate intake (Lisa noted that this is anything under 50 grams per day), then the liver goes into overdrive, because y Continue reading >>
Is The Ketogenic Diet Safe For People With Diabetes?
Is The Ketogenic Diet Safe for People with Diabetes? If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, chances are you’re looking for simple yet effective ways to control your blood sugar. And, if at all possible, without the use of daily shots or medications. As I’ve mentioned in earlier blog posts, exercise is one of the best natural ways to manage blood glucose. But perhaps the most obvious way to keep blood sugar at a safe and consistent level without insulin is to pay special attention to what you eat. And, in the case of diabetes, limiting your carbohydrate intake may be the key. What Is the Keto Diet? At first glance the ketogenic (keto) diet may seem like a crazy idea for type 2 diabetics. After all, many patients are put on diets to help them lose weight. The keto diet is high in fat, but it is very low in carbs, and this combination can help change the way your body stores and uses energy. With this diet your body converts fat instead of sugar into energy, which can improve blood glucose levels while reducing the need for insulin. Ketosis VS Ketoacidosis Ketosis and ketoacidosis are two very different things, which are often confused. But it’s very important you understand the difference. What is ketoacidosis? Ketoacidosis (KA) is a life-threatening condition in which your body doesn’t make enough insulin. This causes you to have dangerously high levels of ketones (substances occurring when the body uses fat stores for energy) and blood sugar. The combination of both makes your blood incredibly acidic, and this can, in turn, change the normal functioning of your internal organs such as your liver and kidneys. Patients suffering from ketoacidosis must get treatment immediately or they could slip into a coma and even die. Ketoacidosis can develop in less than 24 Continue reading >>
Keto Diet And Others Could Contribute To Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
Keto diet and others could contribute to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease by Eric Lindberg, University of Southern California Because fatty liver rarely causes pain or symptoms at first, many people dont know they have the disease until it has progressed to a more serious stage. Credit: iStock If you're looking to shed a few pounds, you might be tempted to try out popular new approaches like the keto diet or fasting. But you might be unwittingly worsening a problem you don't even know you have: a fatty liver . Doctors are worried about an increasingly common condition called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease , or NAFLD, in which extra fat builds up in the liver. It may lead to serious consequences like cirrhosis and liver cancer just like liver problems caused by drinking too much alcohol. "In clinic, I used to see mostly hepatitis C patients. Now most of the patients I see have fatty liver disease ," said Hugo Rosen, a liver disease specialist and chair of medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. "It's a problem that closely tracks with the emergence of obesity and diabetes throughout the world." A quarter of the global population is estimated to have NAFLDwhich doctors pronounce as "nah-fold" or "naffle-dee." Rosen said that figure may be even higher in the United States. The liver disease affects about 35 percent of Americans. "It's a really important issue to be aware of," he said. "Patients with NAFLD have at least a twofold risk of dying of a coronary event or having a stroke." Scientists also believe the condition is linked to increased risk of liver cancer even in the absence of clear-cut cirrhosis, Rosen said. He has seen preliminary results from a Mayo Clinic study that suggest NAFLD can increase susceptibility to other forms of cancer as well. Diet-lin Continue reading >>
Keto Diet Could Damage Liver Health, Say Experts
Keto diet could damage liver health, say experts People following a keto diet are putting themselves at higher risk of the silent killer non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), according to nutrition experts. Approximately a quarter of the global population is predicted to be living with NAFLD a disease which can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer with the prevalence increasing alongside the increase in obesity. As there is no effective drug therapy for the disease, diet and lifestyle modifications are the main prevention and treatment options. Registered nutritionist, Dr Laura Wyness, points out that this means consuming a wide range of fruits, vegetables and grains, with small amounts of meat the opposite of the increasingly popular keto diet in which meat is a large component and fat is the main source of energy. A healthy balanced diet such as a traditional Mediterranean diet has been shown to be particularly beneficial in patients with NAFLD,"she notes. "A diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, moderate amounts of dairy and fish, small amounts of meat, and predominantly unsaturated fats rather than saturated fats can help reduce fatty liver. Other beneficial lifestyle habits include regular activity, cutting down or not drinking alcohol and not smoking. Hugo Rosen, a liver disease specialist and chair of medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, points out thateating lots of fats and restricting carbohydrates can lead to NAFLD, according to research done in mouse models. "But you're basically consuming 80 percent of your caloric intake from fat. It certainly makes sense why in rodents, we're seeing that this causes NAFLD." He also recommends tha Mediterranean diet, as well as the paleo diet. "Some data has shown that a paleo diet has a sign Continue reading >>
Low-carb Diet To Treat Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease – Does It Make Sense?
Approximately 30 percent of people in the United States have a disease that is characterized by abnormal deposits of fat in the liver. The disease is not contagious, and unlike many other disorders of the liver, it is not caused by overconsumption of alcohol. It is called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and has become the leading cause of chronic liver disease in many countries around the world (1). It is normal to have fat in the liver. However, if the amount of fat is more than 5-10 percent of the weight of the liver, fatty liver disease is probably present. But why is having much fat in the liver a bad thing? NAFLD may progress to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) which is associated with inflammation and may result in chronic scarring of the liver and liver cancer (2). Furthermore, patients with NAFLD have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. (3). The prevalence of NAFLD has increased steadily during the last 25-30 years, along with the prevalence of central obesity, type 2 diabetes, and the metabolic syndrome (4). Most individuals with NAFLD have increased abdominal fat and signs of insulin resistance which is reflected in high blood levels of triglycerides, low HDL-cholesterol, and increased risk of type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure (hypertension). So, an educated guess might be that NAFLD is caused by eating too much or that it is caused by eating too much of the wrong thing. The Role of Insulin Resistance and Carbohydrates It is primarily triglycerides that accumulate in the liver in patients with NAFLD. Triglycerides are composed of three fatty acids attached to a molecule of glycerol. But, where do the fatty acids come from and why do they load up in the liver? The Role of Insulin Resistance Insulin is a hormone produced by beta cell Continue reading >>
The Effects Of Low Carbohydrate Diets On Liver Function Tests In Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: A Systematic Review And Meta-analysis Of Clinical Trials
Go to: Abstract Although several observational and experimental studies have examined the effects of low carbohydrate diets (LCDs) on nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), there are considerable inconsistencies among studies. We summarized the effect of LCDs on liver function tests, including intrahepatic lipid content (IHLC), alanine transaminase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferases (AST), and gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT) in patients with NAFLD. PubMed, ISI Web of Science, Scopus, and Google Scholar databases were searched for relevant publications until July 2014, resulting in ten relevant papers that were included in meta-analysis. Related articles were found by searching Medical Subject Heading terms of “NAFLD” in combination with “low carbohydrate”. For this meta-analysis, we used mean differences and standard errors of liver function biomarkers. Summary effect and corresponding confidence interval (CI) were estimated using random effect models. Heterogeneity between studies was assessed using Cochran's Q- and I-squared tests. Our search led to ten eligible papers that evaluated serum ALT levels (n = 238), nine reported serum AST levels (n = 216), five reported serum GGT concentrations (n = 91), and four assessed IHLC (n = 50). LCD decreased IHLC by −11.53% (95% CI: −18.10, −4.96; I2 = 83.2%). However, the effect of LCD on liver enzymes was not significant. Mean differences for the effects of LCDs on ALT, AST, and GGT were −4.35 IU/L (95% CI: −12.91, 4.20; I2 = 87.9%), −1.44 IU/L (95% CI: −4.98, 2.10; I2 = 61.4%), and −7.85 IU/L (95% CI: −29.65, 13.96; I2 = 99.4%), respectively. LCD consumption in subjects with NAFLD led to a significant reduction in IHLC, but did not significantly affect the concentration of liver enzymes. Keywords: Continue reading >>
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The Keto Diet Is Gaining Popularity, But Is It Safe?
A new twist on extreme weight loss is catching on in some parts of the United States. It’s called the "keto diet." People promoting the diet say it uses the body’s own fat burning system to help people lose significant weight in as little as 10 days. It has also been known to help moderate the symptoms of children with epilepsy, although experts are not quite sure why it works. Proponents say the diet can produce quick weight loss and provide a person with more energy. However, critics say the diet is an unhealthy way to lose weight and in some instances it can be downright dangerous. Read More: What is the “Caveman Diet?” » What Is Ketosis? The “keto” diet is any extremely low- or no-carbohydrate diet that forces the body into a state of ketosis. Ketosis occurs when people eat a low- or no-carb diet and molecules called ketones build up in their bloodstream. Low carbohydrate levels cause blood sugar levels to drop and the body begins breaking down fat to use as energy. Ketosis is actually a mild form of ketoacidosis. Ketoacidosis mostly affects people with type 1 diabetes. In fact, it is the leading cause of death of people with diabetes who are under 24 years of age. However, many experts say ketosis itself is not necessarily harmful. Some studies, in fact, suggest that a ketogenic diet is safe for significantly overweight or obese people. However, other clinical reviews point out that patients on low-carbohydrate diets regain some of their lost weight within a year. Where It’s Helpful The keto diet was created by Dr. Gianfranco Cappello, an associate professor of surgery at the Sapienza University in Rome, Italy. He claims great success among thousands of users. In his study, more than 19,000 dieters experienced significant, rapid weight loss, few side Continue reading >>
Metabolism And Ketosis
Dr. Eades, If the body tends to resort to gluconeogenesis for glucose during a short-term carbohydrate deficit, are those who inconsistently reduce carb intake only messing things up by not effecting full blown ketosis? If the body will still prefer glucose as main energy source unless forced otherwise for at least a few days, is it absolutely necessary to completely transform metabolism for minimal muscle loss? Also, if alcohol is broken down into ketones and acetaldehyde, technically couldn’t you continue to drink during your diet or would the resulting gluconeogenesis inhibition from alcohol lead to blood glucose problems on top of the ketotic metabolism? Would your liver ever just be overwhelmed by all that action? I’m still in high school so hypothetical, of course haha… Sorry, lots of questions but I’m always so curious. Thank you so much for taking the time to inform the public. You’re my hero! P.S. Random question…what’s the difference between beta and gamma hydroxybutyric acids? It’s crazy how simple orientation can be the difference between a ketone and date rape drug…biochem is so cool! P.P.S. You should definitely post the details of that inner mitochondrial membrane transport. I’m curious how much energy expenditure we’re talkin there.. Keep doin your thing! Your Fan, Trey No, I don’t think people are messing up if they don’t get into full-blown ketosis. For short term low-carb dieting, the body turns to glycogen. Gluconeogenesis kicks in fairly quickly, though, and uses dietary protein – assuming there is plenty – before turning to muscle tissue for glucose substrate. And you have the Cori cycle kicking in and all sorts of things to spare muscle, so I wouldn’t worry about it. And you can continue to drink while low-carbing. Continue reading >>