Does Everyone Need to be on a Ketogenic Diet or Not?
This past week I got to catch up with the incredible Dr Jason Fung whilst he was in London visiting. For those of you who do not know Dr Fung, he is the incredible Nephrologist that is based in Toronto Canada and who has been pioneering with is work in the fasting space, closely linked with the ketogenic diet.
I first met Jason whilst I was in Cape Town South Africa and when I heard that he sometimes put his patients on a 30 day fast, I knew I would have to see this for myself. As part of my world trip, I was lucky to be able to head to Toronto and shadow with Jason and his colleagues to see exactly how he got his patients fasting.
This post isn’t about fasting (just yet), but more around the topic on who should be following a ketogenic diet.
Whilst waiting together for another breakfast meeting, myself and Jason got onto the topic of
“should everyone be following a ketogenic diet?”
Both of us have the similar viewpoint on this in that no, not everyone should or even needs to be following a ketogenic approach.
When is it Appropriate?
The ketogenic approach is gaining a huge amount of momentum and interest as it gets into mainstream media. I think it is important that we don’t let the idea run away that for a diet like that to work, that you need to be strict keto.
And what does ketogenic even mean?
If you look on social media or talk to anyone that is following a ketogenic approach there are different interpretations of the diet.
Those that are incredibly fit can appear to eat upwards of 100g of carbs and still be ketogenic. Yet there are those who are highly insulin resistant and cannot eat above 20g of carbohydrates.
Likewise, there are many people that do not follow the strict ketogenic principles. Instead adopting more of a low carbohydrate approach and do fine with this.
What types Exist?
There are various types of ketogenic diet that have been studied including:
- Classical ketogenic diet- 4:1 (where for every 5g of food, 4g are made up of fat and 1g made up of protein and carbohydrates combined)
- 3:1 ketogenic diet
- Modified Atkins Diet- 2:1 approach
- Low Glycemic Index Diet- like MAD
- MCT ketogenic diet- where around 40% of the diet comes from MCTs
- Cyclic ketogenic diet- generally more athletes use this approach
- Targeted ketogenic diet- again more used in athletes or those who train a lot
I have seen many people who have ventured into implementing a ketogenic diet for themselves and pretty much start adopting either a classical or 3:1 approach. People can think that ramping up the fats as high as possible and getting the carbs super low is where the “sweet spot” is.
But this really does not need to be the case. In fact, it can cause you to run into many problems further down the line.
Being in a ketogenic state does not mean that you will lose weight or fat any quicker.
For many that type of approach is just not sustainable in the long term either. For any type of dietary approach to be adopted as a complete lifestyle change, you need to be able to maintain it lifelong. I do know many people who follow a ketogenic approach and have no problems fitting it into their lifestyle. But for others it just doesn’t work and that is ok as well.
A ketogenic diet is not the silver bullet, there are still many other factors to include when you are looking at health and wellbeing.
Also, several of the clients that I have worked with have had extensive histories of eating disorders. What I have seen in practice is that being strict keto, can trigger some of these old eating patterns.
In Summary- Do what works for you and your body
It may seem like I am saying people should not follow a ketogenic diet at all, that really is not the case. What I am saying though is, don’t think that this diet is the silver bullet.
If you are someone that has a therapeutic need to follow this approach (epilepsy, cancer, MS, Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, sever obesity and type 2 diabetes), or you are an athlete looking to utilise this for performance, then this absolutely could be a very powerful tool that you should exploit.
If you are someone that tries the approach and find that it doesn’t work for you, then do not think that you just need to “keto harder”. It may simply be the case that this dietary approach isn’t the optimal one for your body. Wheres a lower carb or simple sugar free diet may be better. For more information on the difference between these approaches head to this page here where I explain it all.