Why is diet called keto?

Russell Morse Wilder of the Mayo Clinic drew on this research and coined the term ketogenic diet to describe a diet that produced a high level of ketone bodies in the blood (ketonemia) through excess fat and lack of carbohydrates. It involves drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat. This reduction in carbohydrates puts the body in a metabolic state called ketosis. A ketogenic diet has been shown to provide short-term benefits for some people, such as weight loss and improvements in total cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure.

And because people on Keto often lack nutrients like vitamin C, magnesium, and fiber, there has been a gold rush of supplements for the brands behind diet-making products. There are some ketogenic diet side effects that you should discuss with your doctor if you plan to follow the diet for the long term. The amino acids in protein can be converted to glucose, so a ketogenic diet specifies enough protein to preserve lean body mass, including muscle, but that will continue to cause ketosis. The ketogenic diet could, as the press release says, “slow down the aging process and, one day, allow scientists to better treat or prevent age-related diseases, including heart disease, Alzheimer's, and many forms of cancer.

Recent research from Phinney showed that those who followed a ketogenic diet and received dietary counseling for a year significantly decreased their use of diabetes medications and lost an average of 30 pounds. People who followed the ketogenic diet lost an average of 2 pounds (0.9 kg) more than the group that followed a low-fat diet (1). The number of people seeking the ketogenic diet immediately doubled and continued to increase as other lifestyle gurus, such as Dave Asprey and Mark Sisson, joined in. Although the ketogenic diet has become popular with weight loss gurus, it is extreme and puts the body in an alternative metabolic state that a doctor must absolutely control.

There is no “standard ketogenic diet” with a specific ratio of macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, fats). Rather than relying on sugar (glucose) that comes from carbohydrates (such as grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits), the ketogenic diet relies on ketone bodies, a type of fuel that the liver produces from stored fat. It was in 1921 when endocrinologist Rollin Woodyatt observed that the liver produced three water-soluble compounds, acetone, β-hydroxybutyrate and acetoacetate (together called ketone bodies) as a result of starvation or if they followed a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet. Even so, Phinney went ahead, conducting studies that, for example, showed that liquid ketogenic diets with adequate minerals don't cause heart problems.

A review in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (opens in a new tab) indicated that the ketogenic diet could be beneficial in the treatment of obesity when implemented under the supervision of a physician. Ketogenic diets have many powerful health benefits, but some people have trouble getting into ketosis. So maybe the ketogenic diet is a good option for those trying to induce extreme weight loss, if they're under medical supervision, but how sustainable is that over time? Clark points out that the downside of the ketogenic diet is that it is difficult to follow for an extended period of time.

Oscar Collari
Oscar Collari

He lives an active healthy lifestyle, traveling the world, cooking and lifting weights. His mantra is simple: Live, Love, Laugh, Lift... and Keto!

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