Losing 12 pounds in a month without the smell of cauliflower overflow the kitchen a single day. It is the dream of most people who receive diet and an experience to which you can aspire after seeing stars of the show like Halle Berry, Jennifer Lopez, Kim Kardashian and Adriana Lima tell the wonders of the online keto diet. The response of the digital world to its recommendations was overwhelming: it was the regime that added more Google searches in 2018. And certainly not just because of the influence of singers and actresses, but also because it is advisable to be well informed if anyone tries to prove it. .
A keto diet distributes calories in such a way that fatty foods are predominant, with between 60% and 80% of total consumption. Then there are proteins (between 20% and 25%) and carbohydrates (5% to 10%), Juana María González Prada, nutritionist and technical director of Alimmenta. But it's not worth any kind of fat. Without bacon or rashers, the ideal is that the profile is healthy, preferably fish and plant foods (such as olive oil, seeds, nuts and avocados). High consumption of meat products increases cardiovascular risk and cancer due to its content in saturated fats, cholesterol and sodium, "explains González Prada.
The "magical" weight loss of ketosis
The consequence of this distribution of nutrients is that the glycogen deposits, a molecule that is our main source of energy, are practically empty and the body is forced to look for an alternative fuel. Then ketosis is produced, which is a state in which the body uses fat – of lesser quality and less efficient, so you have to burn more quantity – to get energy They need the muscles and the brain. The body becomes an efficient machine to burn lipids, and the love handles disappear at full speed. This process inspires the name of the diet; the term keto is precisely a diminutive of ketogenic which means "ketogenic" in English.
So far the dazzling headlines. Now, the good impression. By minimizing the consumption of carbohydrates, one of the main macronutrients, the intake of vitamins, minerals and fiber is limited. And the intake of nutrients like calcium, vitamin D, selenium, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus is compromised. It is a consequence that must be taken into account, since nutrients play roles such as maintaining healthy muscles, ensuring adequate hormonal secretion, maintaining the health of the immune system and heart, and maintaining proper functioning of the kidneys.
"Symptoms of short-term ketosis include constipation, headache, halitosis, muscle cramps, diarrhea, general weakness and rashes, and long-term health problems such as hepatic steatosis (commonly known as fatty liver disease), hypoproteinemia protein concentration), kidney stones and vitamin and mineral deficiencies, "says the specialist. Therefore, many programs based on the ketogenic diet include vitamin and mineral supplements, to avoid undesirable consequences.
Also, once someone following the diet has done a statuette and decides to leave it usually appears the dreaded rebound effect. "Weight is only maintained if there is a change in nutritional habits that can be maintained over time. If this is not the case, sooner or later he will recover, "says Gonzalez Prada, and although the ketone diet is one of the fastest ways to lose weight, it is possible to achieve the same goal with a little more time and achieve better results.
According to a meta-analysis that studied how weight loss of individuals on a low-carbohydrate diet evolves compared to those on a low-fat diet, those on the ketogenic diet lost an average of 3.3 kilograms than his colleagues at six months. But the differences were not significant after one year. In contrast, people on a low-fat diet improved their cholesterol levels after that time.
Scientific literature insufficient not to think twice
Mayo Clinic endocrinologist Russell Wilder became one of the pioneers of the ketogenic diet when, in the early 1920s, he began using it to emulate the benefits of fasting in epileptic patients. "The change comes in the 1950s, with the publication of an article in the medical journal New England Journal of Medicine on the effects of this diet on obese patients and when, in 1972, Dr. Robert Atkins takes up the concept on his famous diet, "says Sonia Peinado, a nutritionist at the European Medical Institute of Obesity, the rest is already the story of one of the Os the most famous and controversial regimes of the last half century, the Atkins diet.The UK government has come the order to investigate it in 2004 as part of an initiative to understand the rising obesity in the country.
Recent studies aim to endorse the keto diet with new benefits for the body. For example, lowering glucose in the blood stream improves insulin sensitivity and blood pressure. However, "there is no scientific evidence after one year," says Gonzalez Prada. Others attribute an improvement in the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, but the specialist believes that There is also insufficient data to support this thesis, nor do those who maintain that it could be beneficial for some cancers. The same goes for those who attribute the power of stimulating the expression of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant genes to ketones, the chemical compounds that are produced when the body burns fat. The latter supposedly imparts anti-aging properties to the keto diet.
"These are promises made from the study of laboratory animals with no scientific evidence in humans, but what we do know, on the other hand, is that ketonemia (increased blood ketones) during pregnancy has been associated with decreased scores ". of intellectual quotient in children ", indicates González Prada.
And why do athletes resort to ketosis?
In addition to the controversy over its usefulness to lose weight, this diet finds refuge among some athletes. Because glycogen stores are very limited, there are trainers who suggest that the body is used to extract fats. It is an idea that circulates mainly in sports of resistance and in tests like the marathon, to avoid the gastrointestinal discomfort that the gel can cause.
"In terms of sports performance, a low-carbohydrate diet would not be my first choice if what the athlete looks for is a good result in the competition. The grease is worse fuel and does not allow to optimize the yield. In addition, the decrease in glycogen stores is related to fatigue during exercise, "says Marcos Rueda Córdoba, nutritionist-nutritionist specializing in sports nutrition at Realfooding.
Another thing is use it as a tool during the months of test preparation Teach the body to carburet with fats, which in nutritionist jargon is known to seek metabolic flexibility. "In certain training protocols, glycogen availability is reduced to increase fat oxidation as a source of energy, but it's a double-edged sword: if you train a lot or always with low glycogen availability, looking for those adaptations at the metabolic level , may not reach the same intensity or duration as would be achieved with the deposits of this full substrate, and this prevents other adaptations necessary to win (reaching more or more kilometers). "
So, fat or glycogen? The most usual solution is what Rueda Córdoba calls "nutritional periodization": "Part of the season is trained in low availability of carbohydrates. As we approach the competition, only the oppositeFill up the glycogen stores to the maximum to compete at the highest level, "concludes the expert.
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