Could the ketogenic diet be the answer to our mental health issues?

The buzzy diet is said to potentially alleviate the symptoms of various mental health conditions but is it too good to be true?

In the health world, the ketogenic diet has become about as ubiquitous as Lululemon leggings at a yoga class.

Halle Berry’s a fan of the high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet. Kim Kardashian West’s a “keto” devotee. And “ketone” drinks are now on the market for you to gulp your way to your optimum weight.

But while the buzz around its potential to aid weight loss has been met with a healthy dose of skepticism by experts, the focus is now shifting to the ketogenic diet’s potential to alleviate the symptoms of various mental health conditions – from anxiety to depression.

So how could a simple diet affect not only your waistline, but your mind, too?

In order to understand this, let’s unpack how the diet works first. Our bodies are mainly fueled by glucose, most of which is derived from carbohydrates (hello, mashed potato). By eating high-fat foods and lowering your carb intake to below 50 grams a day (farewell, jam toast), we limit the amount of glucose our body can convert to energy.

As a result, a process called ketogenesis begins, whereby our liver starts to break down fat into “ketones”, which it can now use as a replacement source of energy. Once this is happening, your body is in a metabolic state called ketosis and the serious fat-burning begins.

This is where the potential mental health benefits could also kick in. The ketones not only replace glucose as our body’s main fuel source, but our brain’s too, affecting our neurotransmitters.

A recent University of Tasmania paper called The Current Status of the Ketogenic Diet in Psychiatry, published in Frontiers in Psychiatry, outlined case studies where the diet had positively impacted participants’ mental health.

From bipolar disorder sufferers whose symptoms improved more on the diet than with their meds, to autistic patients who saw their social abilities strengthen, the case studies are anecdotal, sure, but could they be proof the ketogenic diet could work on our mind?

According to the University of Tasmania’s Dr Emmanuelle Bostock, who co-authored the paper, it’s certainly something worth exploring further.

“While improvements seen in anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder may be related to changes in neurotransmitters while on the diet, this is the tip of the iceberg and much more research is needed to clarify the role of the ketogenic diet in mental disorders,” Dr Bostock explains.

Despite the ketogenic diet’s use in psychiatry since the 1920s (it’s been prescribed for epileptic patients to reduce their seizure activity for decades), many experts are reluctant to recommend it to mental health patients at this stage.

Dr Bostock says the diet should always be conducted with close medical supervision due to it being so “difficult to follow”.

“Plus, at the start of the diet – when transitioning from a presumably standard diet – one may experience ‘keto flu’,” Dr Bostock explains.

Keto flu refers to a period of adjustment where your body switches from fueling itself with glucose to fat. While it might not sound overly significant, it’s something Susie Neilson, and many others, describes as “torturous”. The journalist tried the diet in an attempt to alleviate the symptoms of her mental health issues, but found that it only worsened them.

“After two days of eating fewer than 30 grams of carbs, it hit – a period of low energy and weakness that keto experts call ‘the low-carb flu’. I woke up achy and sluggish, confused and depressed,” she wrote in an article for The Cut.

“By Thursday, I noticed blearily that my anxiety was gone – I was simply too tired to be nervous about anything. But my depression had deepened, sending me into a dull blue fog… I battled depression and physical fatigue for ten days straight, and still, my ‘flu’ raged on.”

While every second health influencer might seem to be breezing by on their keto journey (and they have the bacon shots to prove it), dietitian and founder of Functional Food Solutions Peta Carige says there’s something to be said for just trying to stick to a balanced diet. Is it sexy? Not particularly. But it’s better for your health holistically.

“It’s important to find a diet plan that works for you personally. I have seen some patients have great success with the ketogenic diet and others that have found it terrible, uncomfortable and too restrictive,” explains Carige.

“Listen to your body and every ‘new’ diet plan should start with increasing your vegetable and salad intake.”

Plus, the ketogenic diet was recently named the worst diet of 2018 by the US News and World Report panel (a group made up of 25 experts in the health and wellbeing field) due to its ineffectiveness in terms of long-term weight loss and ease of use.

The takeaway here? When it comes to changing your mental health or waistline, it pays to do your due diligence before getting sucked into the latest diet du jour.

While the ketogenic diet may have some indicators that it could benefit your mental health, there’s currently more evidence to suggest that, at best, it’s just a short-term weight loss solution.

Yes, you have our permission to stay friends with mashed potato for now.

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These makeup-free selfies from Kylie Jenner, Tyra Banks, and other celebrities will inspire you to go bare-faced this summer

Summertime is officially here, and when the temperature surges past 80 degrees but it feels more like 100, many celebrities ditch full-coverage makeup and go au naturel. Who wants to sport a sweaty face anyway?

From models Tyra Banks and Brooklyn Decker to hot young stars Yara Shahidi and Kylie Jenner, these women are embracing and flaunting — sans filter — their freckles, birthmarks, and wrinkles. They are also giving their skin a much-needed breather, laying off heavy foundation and getting a vitamin D recharge.

Take a closer look at the celebs who’ve blessed their social media followers with fresh-faced selfies, and draw some summer beauty inspiration!

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Will Your Body Adapt Itself To Keto Diet?

A quote reads “Work hard in silence, let your success be the noise”. Yes, are you concerned about your weight? Do you look for weight loss, you will have to work hard. Your slim look will talk for you after a series of silent efforts. If you look for the best diet program, let me suggest the ketogenic diet for you. This diet has a plenty of solid research to support its benefits.

In reality, it has been found to be better as compared to most other diet programs. It is effective in addressing different conditions in the human body. Yes, if you have migraine issue, you can get out of the same with this diet. Similarly, it will help even cancer patients and those with the fatty liver disease. Further, women with PCOS, men, and women with heart disease and obesity will get help. High blood sugar levels, chronic inflammation, are other diseases it helps. It will address epilepsy and will ease high blood pressure and Parkinson’s disease. Further, both type 1 and type 2 diabetic patients have benefited from this diet.

Let us consider that you are not in the risk of any conditions mentioned above. It is good, but you can still follow the ketogenic recipes to improve your health. The reason is that it will improve your body composition and your energy levels. Even, it will bring down the inflammation and brain function betterment. Of course, you know it is beneficial. However, is it better than the other diet programs? Let us find out here:

Some people argue that the benefits of this diet are not due to carbohydrate restriction. They also say that it is not also because of the burning of ketones for fuel. But, they are of the opinion that people eat fewer calories when they are in this diet. It helps them get the many benefits of this diet. It is true that people in this diet eat less. The reason is that they consume more of satiating fatty foods. They also get the fulfillment with the moderate-protein foods in this diet. In fact, this diet stimulates many other crucial mechanisms in the human body and the cells. But, this does not happen in any other low-calorie diet. These unique things determine the success of the keto diet.

How and why your body will adapt?

If you are concerned whether your body will adapt itself to this diet, here are some details to help you out:

As you know, carbohydrates are the important fuel for energy in the human body. When you restrict the consumption of carb-based foods, your body will think it to be a fasting day. In turn, it will stimulate new energy pathways to provide energy to the cells. One of these pathways is ketogenesis. The outcome of ketogenesis is an alternative fuel source known as the ketone body. These bodies can be used by every cell in your body for fuel. It can happen in organs other than red blood cells and the liver. Nevertheless, the ketone bodies and the sugar can have an effect on your body in many ways.

Types of Keto diet:

When you are understanding your body’s adaptability to the keto diet, you should know the types. The three main types of this diet are:

  • Standard Ketogenic Diet or SKD
  • Targeted Ketogenic Diet or TKD
  • Cyclical Ketogenic Diet or CKD
  • CBD Ketogenic Diet (CBD-K). This is essentially the use of CBD oil while being on a ketogenic diet.

In addition to these three most-common types, there is yet another type as well. This fourth type is known as Restricted Ketogenic Diet for Therapeutic Uses.

SKD: SKD is the most common kind of ketosis diet. The idea behind this type is simple. You will consume a minimal amount of carbohydrates at all times. You might have heard about the induction phase in Atkins Diet. SKD is pretty much similar to this stage. Here, you should take around 20-50 grams of net carbs in a day. However, the exact amount varies based on your personal needs.

TKD: Here, you will have to take carbs right before half to one hour prior to your workout session. To avoid upset stomach, it is better to choose carbs that your body can easily digest. Also, make sure that the carbs you choose have a high glycemic index. Rather than fructose-based foods, go for glucose-based foods. In keto diet, you should avoid replenishing liver glycogen. But, fructose will do this as against replenishing muscle glycogen. So, it is better to avoid fructose.

The result: Carbs that you consume before your workout session will burn. You might be wondering about the quantity of carbs to take. You can take around 25-50 grams of net carbs. Also, the foods that you consume after your exercise should be low in fat and high in protein. The reason is that fat consumed after an exercise will impair nutrient absorption. Even, it might prevent muscle recovery.

CKD: In CKD, you will alternate days of ketosis diet with days of high-carb consumption. It is otherwise referred to as carb-loading. This session will typically last for 24-48 hours. In this type, you will need around 50 grams of carbs per day in the initial phase. Then, during the carb-loading phase, you will need around 450-600 grams of carbs. To maximize fat-loss, bodybuilders and other athletes use this diet. They will also get the benefit of building lean mass with this type of keto. So, it is not recommended for normal people.

Comparison of the three major types:

Here, is a table to easily understand the comparison of the three major types of keto diet:

Description SKD TKD CKD
Amount of Carbs 20-50 grams of net carbs per day. Carbohydrate intake should be done prior to half to one hour before workout regimen. Encompasses carb-loading days with 50 grams of carbs per day in the initial phase. During the carb-loading phase, you should take around 450-600 grams of carbs.
Amount of Protein Moderate amount of protein. Moderate protein intake Moderate protein intake permitted
Suitable Lifestyle For starters and also for many other individuals interested in a healthy lifestyle. Best for active individuals Ideal for athletes and bodybuilders engaged in high-intensity training

So, choose the best type and your body will adapt itself to the keto diet for sure.

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