Is the ketogenic diet effective?

For the ketogenic diet, we do not need to say a lot, it's a diet where you need to consume very low carbohydrates for a long time in order to achieve the so-called ketosis, a process where the body breaks down fat to meet its energy needs. If you read on many forums and blogs, you will find that many people are positive and hyped about ketogenic diet. Last week, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a study, where it sheds more light to the effectiveness of the ketogenic diet [1].

I wrote and before for the ketogenic diet, especially if it's long-term. Although many can say that they have lost a lot of weight while on ketogenic diet, you can not know if:

1) At the end, they got bored from the same foods, resulting in greatly reducing the calories they received (moreover, on such a diet, you can get fat easily from the fat you eat) and

2) if in addition to fat, they also was burning and muscle tissue. This was what this research wanted to see, so it was carried out in the so-called "metabolic department" [2], where the subjects were constantly monitored.

Seventeen overweight volunteers participated in this research without being able to eat anything other than the foods they received during the study and every two weeks they get their fat measured with a special scanner (DEXA). For the first four weeks, volunteers were fed a diet high in carbohydrates (338 grams per day) and sugars (25% of their total calories), with a total of 2,739 calories per day.

For the next four weeks, they switched on a classic low-carbohydrate diet (36g carbs per day), the same calories (2,738, 15% of them from protein). Note that the calories were the same to confirm that fat is lost by choosing foods instead of reducing calories.

Initially, the results showed that by following a ketogenic diet, volunteers were losing weight fast, something that is expected especially at the beginning, as you lose a lot of fluid and, compared to the diet with a lot carbohydrates, you burn more calories. But taking a better look, you will find that it is not as good as may sounds.

Although volunteers initially lost fat, their bodies stopped burning fat after a period of two weeks and the worst thing was that when the body stopped burning fat, it began to break down the muscles to have the energy it needed. Yes, muscles and not fat, that's why those who follow such a diet for a long time, they can see their body "hangs". And maybe this is the reason why Tim Ferriss (in his 'The 4-Hour Body' book [3]) and Mauro DiPasquale (The Anabolic Diet) suggest having a cheat day (or a weekend) every week.

As I have previously wrote, this diet should not be done for a long-term. It may sound like the ideal diet, but in the process the body does not take what it needs and - as it seems - it starts to take the energy it needs from the muscles, something that was not seen in a high carbohydrate diet.

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