While excessive sugar consumption can be incredibly detrimental, leading to many issues such as diabetes, when compared to carbs, fats can actually be an alternative and healthy source of energy.
In fact, the fat eaten in the ketogenic diet converts into ketones, compounds that provide an excellent source of energy for the brain. By ingesting high amounts of fat while also practicing intermittent fasting, the body enters a state known as ketosis where it begins using ketones for energy rather than sugars. Being in a state of ketosis is shown to reduce inflammation, boost memory, and increase energy. Furthermore, this diet can be helpful in treating conditions such as cancer, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s.
Does the Ketogenic Diet Cause Diabetes?
Having heard about the dangerous condition for diabetics called ketoacidosis, many wonder if the ketogenic diet causes diabetes. Thankfully, it does not. Ketoacidosis is a condition that occurs in diabetic people when their cells aren’t getting enough insulin, thus rendering them unable to process blood sugars. As a result, the body begins burning fat for energy, causing ketone levels to rise to extremely high levels. If not properly managed, this condition can create high acidity in the blood, eventually becoming deadly.
Thankfully, with the ketogenic diet, ketone levels in the blood do not increase to such extreme levels. In fact, in some cases this diet can even work to enhance glucose regulation in the body. Therefore, the keto diet won’t cause diabetes. (However, if you do have diabetes, always ask your doctor before starting a new diet.) Despite all the ketogenic diet’s benefits, it’s not a magic bullet.
The Downsides of Becoming a Ketotarian
Although the ketogenic diet is effective for weight loss, other studies show that a regular low-carb diet can be just as effective. However, while low-carb diets are often considered safe, the keto diet is associated with adverse metabolic and emotional effects.
Other side effects of a long-term ketogenic diet include
- Arterial stiffness
- Gastrointestinal disturbances such as
- Fat Intolerance
- Renal stones
- Iron deficiency.
Unfortunately, in some cases, long-term adherence to the ketogenic diet can be life-threatening. So, before following the ketogenic diet, it’s always best to consult your doctor first.
Ayurveda’s Perspective on the Ketogenic Diet
Ayurveda always recommends eating a natural, seasonal diet, and the ketogenic diet doesn’t suit this criterion. In fact, this diet requires consuming incredibly high levels of fats, which would be nearly impossible to find frequently in a traditional hunter-gatherer or agricultural setting.
Although it’s true that entering ketosis is beneficial, historically our bodies have regularly entered this state each year during the late winter/early spring. It wasn’t necessary to artificially induce this state by eating high fats; rather, ketosis was brought about naturally as our ancestors fasted while waiting for new crops to grow. These yearly fasts only spanned a few weeks, which is in accordance with the research suggesting that ketosis is more beneficial in the short-term rather than the long-term.
Additionally, when it comes to the three doshas, vata-types will do the best eating natural fats, pitta-types will do fairly well, but kapha-types will have a tough time. That’s because those with kapha-based constitutions have the slowest metabolisms, thus they struggle to digest a lot of fat.
Furthermore, the ketogenic diet requires fasting for 12–14 hours each day. Fasting is not typically recommended for people with vata and pitta constitutions, while kapha-types could benefit from it.
Therefore, although certain elements of this diet can benefit certain people, when taken as a whole, this diet is full of contradictions and unnatural aspects. So, if you feel compelled to eat this way, it’s best to only follow the ketogenic diet for a few weeks at most.