In our last post on Keto FAQs, Dr. Vinay Bhardwaj, MD, Neurosurgeon, and Head of R&D at Grow Fit answered many questions on the benefits of a ketogenic diet, managing a keto diet for vegetarians and the impact of high-fat foods on cholesterol levels. This time in Part Two, we have him unraveling a few more tricky questions. Let’s dig deeper and see what else we can learn on the ketogenic diet.
FAQ 5: What about all that protein? Won’t it wreck my kidneys?
Doc: The important thing to understand here is that the ketogenic diet is not necessarily a high-protein diet. A lot of people who do a lazy keto diet tend to just replace the carbs and starches they eat with more protein and think that’s good enough. This is not a good idea but it’s not necessarily dangerous. As long as your kidneys and liver are healthy, there is no evidence to support that a high-protein diet will damage otherwise healthy kidneys. If smoking or alcohol abuse has caused problems with your kidneys and liver before, then piling more protein on top of that is a bad idea. So if you suffer from any kidney or liver dysfunction, you should avoid a high protein diet. But, again, a high protein diet on its own will not cause kidney or liver damage and there have been studies to show that.
When it comes to putting a lot of protein in a keto diet, it is actually quite counter-productive. The reason is that when you are trying to get into a state of ketosis, the one thing you want to avoid is spiking your insulin levels. Carbs will spike your insulin levels no doubt, but protein comes in second place. And when you are eating a lot of protein, you’re still going to be keeping your insulin levels fairly high and your ketone levels fairly low.
The most important macronutrient in a keto diet is fat. So a ketogenic diet which is most recommended would be ultra low carb, high fat and moderate protein. I would usually recommend anywhere from 0.6 to 0.8 gms of protein per kilo lean body mass.
FAQ 6: Is the keto diet possible while eating Indian food?
Doc: The simple answer is yes. But to break down regional eating habits, you tend to notice that the typical desi diet, North Indian and South Indian, are dependant on starches as compared to Western diets. Be it in the form of rice or rotis or other grains. If you are going to do a keto diet, you have to be willing to cut out rice and avoid all grains, not just wheat. There are a lot of hacks you can do to get around this. For example, we designed our Ultra Low Carb Flour for people who are used to eating chapatis and rotis, so that they can do so while staying in ketosis. We also use ground cauliflower (‘cauli-rice’), so that we can satisfy someone who is used to eating rice.
It is possible, but not ideal. In fact, there is nothing else other than the starches in Indian food that interrupt a keto diet. The spices in most Indian masalas are beneficial for insulin sensitivity. The fats that are generally used like desi ghee or coconut oil are highly recommended for a ketogenic diet as they have the least amount of omega-6 fatty acids as compared to other vegetable oils which tend to be more inflammatory and should be avoided.
FAQ 7: Isn’t the keto diet for people who work out a lot?
Doc: There is no diet in the world that allows you to be completely sedentary. I would say that when you are attempting any diet, like the DASH or ketogenic diets, having some baseline low-level exercise is necessary. The benefits that you get from ketosis are not necessarily linked to exercise, but you tend to see better and quicker benefits if you are exercising as well. If you are starting the keto diet for the very first time, your body tends to get into carbohydrate withdrawal where it’s used to getting a lot of sugars, but now is starting to use fat as a primary energy source. And in this transition phase when you’re building up mitochondria and when your metabolism is sorting itself out, if you push yourself to exercise harder, you’ll end up sacrificing muscle to get energy.
So, when starting a ketogenic diet, it is a good idea to keep your exercise minimal. Once the diet settles itself and you feel your energy levels returning, then you can go back to your typical exercise patterns or embark on a new exercise regime.
Coming to the type of exercises, we see that being in a state of ketosis is more beneficial for endurance-based exercises and cyclical ketogenic diets (when you’re going in and out of ketosis based on a certain level) is good for bodybuilding type exercises. Overall, on any keto diet, we recommend that you get some basic cardiovascular exercises as well as some basic resistance training. And every once in a while, do some push-ups or jumping jacks.
FAQ 8: Are LCHF (Low Carb High Fat) and keto diets the same? If not, which one’s better?
Doc: LCHF stands for Low Carb High Fat. A ketogenic diet releases ketones. A ketogenic diet is simply put, a diet where you’re trying to maintain a high level of ketones in your bloodstream at all times by restricting carbohydrates, proteins and feeding your body more fats. In the LCHF diet, however, you’re not looking to see how many ketones are generated and you’re not looking to stay in ketosis at all. All you’re trying to do is reduce the demand for insulin in your body. It is a diet specifically useful for dealing with inflammation and insulin resistance. So if you are a diabetic looking to control your blood sugar or if you are a mildly overweight person trying to adopt a healthier lifestyle, the LCHF diet is easier to follow, less expensive and very, very useful.
The ketogenic diet, on the other hand, is all about ketones and its cognitive benefits include the improvement of brain fog, muscle growth, and improved satiety. The reason these two get mixed up is that most people look at the keto diet as a weight-loss diet whereas in reality, both LCHF and keto can both be used to bring down your weight.
If you have more questions regarding the keto diet, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Dr. Vinay will personally answer you!
Stay tuned for Keto FAQs: Part Three where the doc wraps up with some more brainbusters.
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