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10 Proven Health Benefits Of Low-carb And Ketogenic Diets

10 Proven Health Benefits Of Low-carb And Ketogenic Diets

Low-carb diets have been controversial for decades. They were originally demonized by fat-phobic health professionals and the media. People believed that these diets would raise cholesterol and cause heart disease because of the high fat content. However… times are changing. Since the year 2002, over 20 human studies have been conducted on low-carb diets. In almost every one of those studies, low-carb diets come out ahead of the diets they are compared to. Not only does low-carb cause more weight loss, it also leads to major improvements in most risk factors… including cholesterol. Here are the 10 proven health benefits of low-carb and ketogenic diets. 1. Low-Carb Diets Kill Your Appetite (in a Good Way) Hunger is the single worst side effect of dieting. It is one of the main reasons why many people feel miserable and eventually give up on their diets. One of the best things about eating low-carb is that it leads to an automatic reduction in appetite (1). The studies consistently show that when people cut carbs and eat more protein and fat, they end up eating much fewer calories. In fact… when researchers are comparing low-carb and low-fat diets in studies, they need to actively restrict calories in the low-fat groups to make the results comparable (2). Bottom Line: When people cut carbs, their appetite tends to go down and they often end up eating much fewer calories without trying. 2. Low-Carb Diets Lead to More Weight Loss Cutting carbs is one of the simplest and most effective ways to lose weight. Studies show that people on low-carb diets lose more weight, faster, than people on low-fat diets… even when the low-fat dieters are actively restricting calories. One of the reasons for this is that low-carb diets tend to get rid of excess water from the body. Bec Continue reading >>

The Fat-fueled Brain: Unnatural Or Advantageous?

The Fat-fueled Brain: Unnatural Or Advantageous?

Disclaimer: First things first. Please note that I am in no way endorsing nutritional ketosis as a supplement to, or a replacement for medication. As you’ll see below, data exploring the potential neuroprotective effects of ketosis are still scarce, and we don’t yet know the side effects of a long-term ketogenic diet. This post talks about the SCIENCE behind ketosis, and is not meant in any way as medical advice. The ketogenic diet is a nutritionist’s nightmare. High in saturated fat and VERY low in carbohydrates, “keto” is adopted by a growing population to paradoxically promote weight loss and mental well-being. Drinking coffee with butter? Eating a block of cream cheese? Little to no fruit? To the uninitiated, keto defies all common sense, inviting skeptics to wave it off as an unnatural “bacon-and-steak” fad diet. Yet versions of the ketogenic diet have been used to successfully treat drug-resistant epilepsy in children since the 1920s – potentially even back in the biblical ages. Emerging evidence from animal models and clinical trials suggest keto may be therapeutically used in many other neurological disorders, including head ache, neurodegenerative diseases, sleep disorders, bipolar disorder, autism and brain cancer. With no apparent side effects. Sound too good to be true? I feel ya! Where are these neuroprotective effects coming from? What’s going on in the brain on a ketogenic diet? Ketosis in a nutshell In essence, a ketogenic diet mimics starvation, allowing the body to go into a metabolic state called ketosis (key-tow-sis). Normally, human bodies are sugar-driven machines: ingested carbohydrates are broken down into glucose, which is mainly transported and used as energy or stored as glycogen in liver and muscle tissue. When deprived of d Continue reading >>

Epilepsy Miracle Diet Cuts Seizures Drugs Can't

Epilepsy Miracle Diet Cuts Seizures Drugs Can't

(CBS) What do you call a father who makes his grade-schooler eat heavy cream, butter, bacon, eggs, and whole-fat yogurt mixed with coconut oil? If the child has epilepsy, you might call him a good dad. Sounds implausible, but research has shown that a super-high fat, low-carbohydrate diet can cut the frequency of seizures in kids with epilepsy. One dad familiar with the diet, Fred Vogelstein, wrote about it recently in the New York Times. His nine-year-old son Sam has epilepsy, and before going on the diet he had as many as 30 seizures a day - and they couldn't be controlled with antiseizure medication. Sam's diet - which is almost 90 percent fat - "tricks" the body into starvation mode, which causes it to burn fat, and not carbohydrates, according to Vogelstein. "Remarkably, and for reasons that are still unclear, this process - called ketosis - has an antiepileptic effect," he writes. The ketogenic diet - "keto" for short - is not some fringe treatment. It was developed almost 80 years ago, according to the Epilepsy Foundation website. And it helps two out of three children who try it, preventing seizures completely in one out of three. But the diet has its downsides. Sam has to drink lots of water to avoid kidney stones, and he has to use stool softeners to cope with chronic constipation, according to his dad. Plus, he has to take a daily multivitamin and calcium-magnesium supplement. Otherwise, "his growth would be stunted, his hair and teeth would fall out, and his bones would become as brittle as an 80 year-old's." But for Sam and his dad, those problems are a small price to pay. Three million Americans have epilepsy, including more than 325,000 children under the age of 15, according to the Epilepsy Foundation. Continue reading >>

Extreme Diets: Life On 800 Calories A Day

Extreme Diets: Life On 800 Calories A Day

(CNN) -- Her death made headlines around the world: Samantha Clowe, a 34-year-old British woman, died suddenly this fall from a previously undiagnosed heart condition. At the time of her death, Clowe was following a plan called LighterLife, a very low-calorie diet designed to help obese and severely obese patients lose weight. She was consuming 530 calories a day. "Samantha came to LighterLife with a BMI of 37, weighing more than 17 stone [238 pounds]," says a spokesperson for the company. "Although she managed to lose 3 stone [42 pounds], her health may have already been compromised." An inquest determined that Clowe most likely died from cardiac arrhythmia but could not determine what role, if any, Clowe's diet played in the development of her condition, only that her death "may be related to her low calorie diet and weight loss." Very low-calorie diets have been used to help obese and severely obese patients lose weight for more than two decades. "Next to bariatric surgery, nothing is more effective for weight loss than a VLCD, including pills and other diets," says Dr. John Hernried, medical director for OTC Medical Weight Loss Group, a weight-loss clinic in California. But the diet "is not indicated for someone who wants to lose 10 pounds." Most programs screen potential participants to ensure they are psychologically and medically stable enough to begin the process. Gordon Heitman, 46, a California man, lost 233 pounds in just over a year on a VLCD that allowed him to eat an average of 800 calories a day. "This is a very specialized diet. We are taking on full responsibility for [the patient's] nutrition." "For the most part I wasn't hungry," says Heitman. "I was fine with what I was eating." The diets use a process called ketosis to prompt the body to burn stored Continue reading >>

How To Maintain Ketosis

How To Maintain Ketosis

The ketogenic diet is all the rage right now, and more people are learning about the benefits of ketosis on their health and weight loss goals. However, there’s still some confusion around the process itself and the correct ways to maintain ketosis. This information will help you maintain a steady state of ketosis safely and efficiently, no matter your needs. Getting into Ketosis First things first. Before we can maintain ketosis we have to get understand what is ketosis and get into this primal metabolic state. Ketosis occurs when the body has little to no access to carbohydrates, its normal source of fuel, and begins breaking down and burning fat for energy instead. The ketosis process can have many benefits including: Curbed hunger and faster weight loss Improved blood sugar regulation Enhanced cognitive performance Better mental focus Less chance of inflammation Reducing risk for conditions like type II diabetes When the body’s in ketosis, fats are broken down and ketone bodies, or “ketones,” are created for the body to use for energy. Three Main Ways of Maintaining Ketosis Long-term Short-term Cyclical The way you use the ketogenic diet depends on your specific needs, but what’s important is making sure you maintain a state of ketosis during the full time you’re on keto. This is not the same as simple going low-carb, and it requires some extra effort and tracking. However, the results are worth the extra work! Short-Term vs Long-Term Ketosis Just as it sounds, the only difference between short- and long-term ketosis is the amount of time you properly follow the ketogenic diet. The standard version of the ketogenic diet involves eating around 20-50 grams of net carbs per day to keep the body in ketosis, although the exact amount depends on each person. C Continue reading >>

Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet

Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet

I’ve put together a very-low-carbohydrate Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet for loss of excess weight. Why ketogenic? Your body gets its energy from either fats, or carbohydrates like glucose and glycogen. In people eating normally, at rest, 50–60% of the energy comes from fats. In a ketogenic diet, the carbohydrate content of the diet is so low that the body has to break down even more of its fat to supply energy needed by most tissues. Fat breakdown produces ketone bodies in the bloodstream. Hence, “ketogenic diet.” Also called “very low-carb diets,” ketogenic diets have been around for over a hundred years. There are several practical advantages over other diets (disputed by some authorities): simplicity unlimited access to many high-protein and fatty foods less trouble with hunger better short-term weight loss than many other diets lower blood sugar levels, which is important to people with diabetes, pre-diabetes, and metabolic syndrome reduced insulin levels in people who often have elevated levels (hyperinsulinemia), which may help reduce chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, some cancers, and coronary heart disease improved levels of HDL cholesterol and triglycerides, which may reduce risk of heart disease it obviously works well for a significant portion of the overweight population, but not for everybody better adherence to the program compared with other diets, at least for the short-term Why Mediterranean? The Mediterranean diet is widely recognized as the healthiest diet. Despite an emphasis on bread, pasta, fruits, legumes, and certain vegetables, the Mediterranean diet has several healthy components compatible with a very low-carb eating style: Although cheese is a component of the traditional Mediterranean diet, I can’t argu Continue reading >>

My Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet: Day 54 + Potassium Deficiency

My Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet: Day 54 + Potassium Deficiency

Weight: 154 lb Transgressions: TNTC (too numerous to count) Exercise: none Comments The Potassium Problem My current food intake on the Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet appears to be low in potassium, which might have long-term health consequences if followed for many months or years. According to the Linus Pauling Institute’s Micronutrient Information Center, adequate potassium intake apparently decreases blood pressure, reduces salt sensitivity, decreases risk of kidney stones, and protects against osteoporosis and stroke. These associations between higher potassium intake and lower condition rates are based mostly on observational studies of populations in which some people eat little potassium and others eat a lot. It’s assumed that people with higher potassium intake are eating more fruits and vegetables, not taking supplements. The Linus Pauling Institute agrees with the U.S. Institute of Medicine’s “Adequate Intake” value for potassium of 4,700 mg daily for average adults. The current U.S. Food and Drug Administration Daily Value is about 3,500 mg. I’m only getting 2,000 mg/day now. Multivitamin/multimineral supplements in the U.S. provide a maximum of 99 mg potassium (by law?). I bought a potassium gluconate supplement at CVS Pharmacy last night: 90 mg potassium, a drop in the bucket. I dropped into a Hi Health vitamin store (health food store?) today and would swear I saw a combined magnesium and potassium supplement that contained 150 mg potassium. Excess potassium intake can be life-threatening in certain situations such as kidney impairment and use of medications like potassium-sparing diuretics and ACE inhibitors. Relatively high meat intake tends to create an acidic environment in the body, which our bones help to buffer or counteract. In the proce Continue reading >>

Vegan Keto Experiment : Week One – Food, Info, Ratios

Vegan Keto Experiment : Week One – Food, Info, Ratios

First of all, a disclaimer: I am not a physician. I am not a nutritionist. I’ll admit to having an academic understanding of biochemistry, and the human body, but I wont delve into it too much for brevity. This is anecdotal single trial human experimentation. For me, this is a temporary experiment, and not something I’d consider as a permanent lifestyle change. I’m also not encouraging this or discouraging it. This is my experience so far. Your millage may vary. I’ve spent the last 7 days doing a Vegan Keto style diet with JC’s brother. He has been doing a non-veg keto for around a year now, and I’ve been curious about how it would work veganized. Like most low carb, high fat, high protein diets, at first glance, it doesn’t really look very vegan friendly. I enjoy the occasional challenge, and I’ve been feeling stuck in a rut with my food choices lately. I felt like I could use some dramatic food changes in my life, so this week, I’ve done that pretty successfully. I’m not really one for “going on a diet”, but I am and have been very curious to see how this one would feel and what changes I would experience. I think one of the major benefits of doing it vegan style is the complete elimination of cholesterol, one of the cited issues people mention with low-carb diets. The con of doing it vegan style is that a suddenly a not-so-limited diet (plant based), becomes a lot more limited, and it becomes really essential to make your own food (something that is admittedly easier with a standard keto diet.) What is the premise of a ketogenic diet/benefits? As far as I can tell, a ketogenic diet is used by two main groups of people. Those looking to lose weight or people with refractory epilepsy. The latter is the one I found most fascinating when researchi Continue reading >>

8 Natural Remedies To Fight Kidney Stones At Home

8 Natural Remedies To Fight Kidney Stones At Home

Kidney stones are a common health problem for many people. Passing these stones can be incredibly painful. And, unfortunately, people who have experienced kidney stones are more likely to get them again (1). However, there are a few things you can do to reduce this risk. This article explains what kidney stones are and outlines 8 dietary ways to fight them. Also known as renal stones or nephrolithiasis, kidney stones are composed of hard, solid waste materials that build up in the kidneys and form crystals. Four main types exist, but about 80% of all stones are calcium oxalate stones. Less common forms include struvite, uric acid and cysteine (2, 3). While smaller stones are usually not a problem, larger stones may cause a blockage in part of the urinary system as they leave the body. This can lead to severe pain, vomiting and bleeding. Kidney stones are a common health problem. In fact, about 12% of US men and 5% of US women will develop a kidney stone during their lifetime (3). What's more, if you get a kidney stone once, studies suggest you are up to 50% more likely to form another stone within 5–10 years (4, 5, 6). Below are 8 natural ways you can reduce the risk of forming another kidney stone. Kidney stones are firm lumps formed from crystallized waste products in the kidneys. They are a common health problem and passing large stones can be very painful. When it comes to kidney stone prevention, drinking plenty of fluids is generally recommended. Fluids increase the volume and dilute the stone-forming substances in urine, which makes them less likely to crystallize (3). However, not all fluids are equal for this purpose. For example, a high intake of water is linked to a lower risk of kidney stone formation (7, 8). Beverages like coffee, tea, beer, wine and oran Continue reading >>

Celebs Over 40 Are Obsessed With The Keto Diet. Here’s Everything You Need To Know Before Trying It.

Celebs Over 40 Are Obsessed With The Keto Diet. Here’s Everything You Need To Know Before Trying It.

There was once a time when low-fat cookies, chips, and peanut butter were considered “healthy choices.” Oh, how times have changed! Ever since studies began surfacing showing that low-carb, high-fat diets can be more effective for weight loss than low-fat plans, more and more health-conscious folks have fully embraced fat. Sales of whole-fat milk and yogurt have soared in recent years, and most nutritionists now tell their clients to incorporate fatty foods like fish, avocado, and olive oil into their diets. The reemergence of all this creamy goodness has led to a century-old diet making a major comeback: the ketogenic diet. Celebrities including Gwyneth Paltrow and Mick Jagger are both rumored to have taken the plan for a test drive. (Got 10 minutes? Then you've got time to lose the weight for good with Prevention's new 10-minute workouts and 10-minute meals. Get Fit in 10: Slim and Strong for Life now!) Those following the keto diet plan eat a lot of fat and just a few carbohydrates. More specifically, 80% of the diet is comprised of fat, 15% is protein, and a mere 5% of calories come from carbohydrates. For someone on a 1,500-calorie diet, that translates to 19 grams of carbohydrates per day, which is less than what you find in a cup of green peas. (For some context, most people’s diets contain 55% carbohydrates, 30% fat, and 15% protein.) The idea is that if you deplete yourself of carbohydrates, the brain’s preferred fuel source, your body will start breaking down fat for energy. When this occurs, the body goes into a state of ketosis. But does this really fuel weight loss or make us healthier? According to one Spanish study of 20 obese adults, the answer is yes. For the study, participants were put on a low-calorie keto diet and lost an average of 40 pound Continue reading >>

Lemon Water And Ketosis? You Better Believe It

Lemon Water And Ketosis? You Better Believe It

Just so we are all on the same pager here… Yes, you need to be drinking lemon water daily if you are on this high fat diet. When you are going keto, your PH balance actually decrease meaning your body is becoming more acidic. This is due to a couple of reasons Ketones are actually an acid Some of the food you eat, lead to higher levels of uric acid in the body Both of which effect your body’s PH levels This build up of uric acid can come from a handful of different foods we eat. Uric acid is the byproduct of certain proteins called purines. Some common sources of purines are: Game Meats Turkey Beer Seafood Caffeine These sources coupled with getting into Ketosis, which also boost uric acid can be a driving force behind elevated uric acid levels.. When uric acid levels get too high in the body, they can crystalize or even turn into gout (sever joint pain)… which is not good for anybody The other reason why lemon water is so important is because it counter acts kidney stones. Eating certain healthy foods… like the ones we generally eat on keto.. Kale Spinach Nuts Lentils/legumes (not so keto) ..are actually high in oxalates and when combined with calcium in the kidney you can develop kidney stones.. Thankfully the citric acid in lemon (and lime) juice is the remedy for both of these issues. When consumed, lemon juice actually turns into an alkaline substance in the body… …Which not only alkalizes your PH but also neutralizes uric acid crystals as well as dissolves/prevents kidney stones. The reason this is important is because consuming lemon water actually let’s you continue to eat all the foods listed above with no issues down the road. Not to mention, lemons are also a fantastic source of vitamin C which play a huge role in the body.. Most importantly str Continue reading >>

Quieting The Bipolar Mind: Can A Ketogenic Diet Stabilize Mood?

Quieting The Bipolar Mind: Can A Ketogenic Diet Stabilize Mood?

Disclaimer: Please note that I am in no way endorsing nutritional ketosis as a supplement to, or a replacement for medication. There is very little data actually supporting the use of a ketogenic diet as a treatment for bipolar, and a well-documented case where a bipolar patient on valporic acid developed full-blown mania with psychosis after starting a ketogenic diet (thanks to @neurocritic for pointing me to this report; read about it below). This post talks about the theory behind using keto for bipolar disorder and a few recorded clinical cases. Bipolar disorder is often described as a dizzying, sinister and emotionally draining roller-coaster ride. It is marked by dark periods of severe depression interspersed with mania or hypomania – insane energy levels, difficulty concentrating, distorted thinking, euphoria and thoughts that tumble around and around in the brain. To date there is no cure for bipolar disorder, but mood swings can be managed effectively with lithium or anti-seizure medication, such as valporic acid. While effective in many cases, these drugs unfortunately come with a price: in some women lithium may lower thyroid levels causing rapid cycling of depressive-maniac cycles; valporic acid may increase the level of testosterone in young women leading to disruption of menstrual cycles and excess body hair. Many drugs also suffer from the “rebound effect”, where suddenly stopping the medication may worsen bipolar symptoms. In many cases, using a lower drug dose may minimize side effects, but sometimes at the cost of decreased efficacy. What if there’s an alternative way –say, a diet – to stabilize mood in conjunction with drugs? Lucky for mood clinicians, there is in fact a successful pre-existing case: the use of the ketogenic diet to treat Continue reading >>

Brain, Livin’ On Ketones – A Molecular Neuroscience Look At The Ketogenic Diet

Brain, Livin’ On Ketones – A Molecular Neuroscience Look At The Ketogenic Diet

Edited October 3, 2013: A 2.0 version of this post can be found at Scientific American MIND Guest blogs, here. And here’s me talking about it. Feel free to check it out! WARNING: Wall of text on the yummy neuroprotective effect of ketosis from a molecular neuroscience point of view. Proceed with caution. Remember when your high school biology teacher said that the brain absolutely NEEDS glucose to function? Well, that’s not entirely true. Under severe carbohydrate restriction, the brain can adapt and start burning ketones as fuel. Originally devised as a therapy for drug-resistant epilepsy in children, the ketogenic diet (keto) has been gaining popularity lately. It’s a high fat, moderate protein and low carbohydrate diet (LCHF) designed to force the body to go into a state called metabolic ketosis. With the advent of books like “Good Calories, Bad Calories” and “Why we get fat”, LCHF diets are increasingly touted as the magic bullet to weight loss. While there is considerable interest in the medical community in using the ketogenic diet to manage metabolic syndrome or prevent cardiovascular disease, more attention has focused on its role in drug-resistant seizure management and (potentially) neuroprotective effects in brain damage. In the last decade, keto has been shown to improve memory in patients at risk for Alzheimer’s disease, stabilize mood in type II bipolar disorder, reduce symptoms in Parkinson’s disease and even ameliorate some behavioral and social deficits in autism. Keto also seems to decrease brain cancer progression. ALL without observable side effects. Although most of these studies were unblinded (hence placebo can’t be ruled out), the effect is still amazing. What is going on in the brain? And why aren’t pharmaceutical companies Continue reading >>

Evaluation Of Nutrient Intake Of Patients On Ketogenic Therapy: A Pilot Study

Evaluation Of Nutrient Intake Of Patients On Ketogenic Therapy: A Pilot Study

Abstract Background Ketogenic Therapy (KT) is prescribed as a ratio of fat to protein plus carbohydrate focusing on seizure control. KT is the only source of nutrition, but the nutrient intake at the amino acid and fatty acid level is often less of a focus. Objective Develop and pilot a method to evaluate the details of nutrient intake. Methods Nutrition Data System for Research was used to analyze 24-hour diet recalls. Amino acid intake was compared to dietary reference intake (DRI) and individual polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) intake was determined. Results Six months of 24-hour diet recalls of 2 oral feeders (OF) and 2 tube feeders (TF) were evaluated for percent of recommended Calories (Cal), percent of DRI for protein (Pro) and essential amino acids (EAA), and mg/kg/day of linoleic acid (LA), alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), DHA, and EPA. Patients receiving adequate protein and Calories with a prescribed KT ratio between 3.0 and 4.0 may have intakes of individual PUFAs that vary several fold. Conclusion KT with similar diet prescriptions may show different nutrient intakes and should be evaluated at the level of the amino acid and fatty acid profile. Supported in part by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) CTSA grant 1UL 1RR029890 Continue reading >>

Clearing Up Kidney Confusion: Part Deux

Clearing Up Kidney Confusion: Part Deux

It’s funny how our mental state really affects how we write and what we are interested in. When I wrote the introduction to this piece I was just getting settled into our new place in Santa Fe, NM and was looking at over a month at home to work and write. Then a number of wacky events happened and I’ve been home about 7 days out of the last month and I’ve only made it about 70 pages into Kon-Tiki. Ouch. Now I’m home for 8 days and will then be gone for a project that will take me completely off the grid for nearly 3 weeks. No phone, email…nada. When I sat down to do this kidney piece it was with a mindset that I had a ton of time and could really sink my teeth into it. Now I’m time crunched and anxious that I will get it done at all! Up front here I’d like to thank Mat “The Kraken” Lalonde with his help on some literature for this piece. Any inaccuracies however are my own tomfoolery. If I wanted to cut to the chase I could boil this whole thing down to the following: 1-Dietary protein DOES NOT CAUSE KIDNEY DAMAGE. 2-Chronically elevated BLOOD GLUCOSE levels DO cause kidney damage. 3-Dietary fructose REALLY causes kidney damage. 4-Many kidney issues have either a hyperinsulinemic characteristic, an autoimmune characteristic, and or a combination of autoimmunity or hyperinsulinism. A standard, low-ish carb paleo diet can fix most of these issues. 5-For serious kidney damage a low-protein, ketogenic diet can be remarkably therapeutic. 6-If you get kidney stones that are from oxalates, reduce your green veggie intake (spinach for example) and have other types of veggies. 7-If you get kidney stones that are from urate salts, you are likely NOT following a low-ish carb paleo diet, you likely have insulin resistance and your liver is not processing uric acid Continue reading >>

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