Category Archives: ketogenic diet

Traditional Dietitian Warns About Ketogenic Diets

She forgot to mention that ketogenic diets might cause bad breath, otherwise all the usual shibboleths are here. She implied that the diet could kill you.

One of her biggest gripes is that rapid weight regain is a problem after you go off the diet. But that’s a problem with all diets.

If you keep eating like most Americans, you’ll be fat like most Americans.

Clearly, I disagree with much of what the dietitian writes. Under “Categories” on the left side of this page, click “ketogenic diet” for details.

Here’s a taste:

“Limited food choices are not the only unglamorous part of the diet. In order to detect if your body is in ketosis, you must pee on a stick that will detect ketones in your urine. You will also experience some intense side effects. The combination of cramps, constipation, irritation, brain fog, insomnia, and more that are common during the start of the diet are labeled the “keto flu.” Symptoms seems to last anywhere from a week to a month until your body becomes accustomed to ketosis.”

Source: A dietitian weighs in on the Ketogenic diet for weight loss – Philly

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Ketogenic Diets Coming Back In Style

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Click the top link above for a five-year Google trend on “ketogenic diet.” WordPress.com doesn’t allow me to embed the graph and I’m not smart enough to use WordPress.org.

A snippet from a recent NBCNews article:

“A main benefit of the diet, and why many of its followers praise the eating plan, is weight loss. Multiple studies show promising results: In a study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, obese men dropped about 14 pounds after following the diet for a month. And in a longer-term study published in Clinical Cardiology, obese adults adhering to a ketogenic diet for about six months noticed significant weight loss — on average, 32 pounds — as well as reductions in total cholesterol and increases in beneficial HDL cholesterol. A review study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition also found that the weight loss seen within the first three to six months of following the keto diet was greater than the loss from following a regular balanced eating style.”

Source: Happier, Healthier, Smarter, BETTER: Life tips | NBC News

So I expect to sell more copies of my KMD: Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet book. Someone’s keto Mediterranean diet is even mentioned in the NBC News article. If you have my Conquer Diabetes and Prediabetes book, then you already have the KMD.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Front cover

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Actress With Type 1 Diabetes Eats a Ketogenic Diet

The Toronto Sun has an article on Halle Berry and how she has adopted a ketogenic diet to help control her diabetes. Another source suggests she’s had type 1 diabetes since 1989. A snippet:

Halle Berry credits her ketogenic diet with keeping her fit.

The Monster’s Ball star, 50, is known for her enviable physique and she explains not eating any sugars or carbohydrates – because she is diabetic – has helped her maintain her figure.

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R.D. Dikeman on the Terrible Diet Advice Given to Type 1 Diabetics

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“The World’s Most Cutting-Edge Fat-Burning Performance Meal Plan: The Keto Diet”

Odd cover, huh?

Odd cover, huh?

Men’s Fitness has an article extolling the virtues of ketogenic diets, particularly as they relate to athletic performance. Sadly, the piece doesn’t mention my Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet, which is incorporated into The Advance Mediterranean Diet (2nd ed.) and Conquer Diabetes and Prediabetes.

The article focuses on Professor Timothy Noakes (who also has an M.D. degree. Some quotes:

“Noakes’s war on sugar goes back a generation, to when his father developed type-2 diabetes. Type-2 is a disease in which the body gradually loses its ability to regulate blood sugar through the production of the hormone insulin. It’s linked to genetics, but also to diet—particularly sugar and refined carbs—as well as obesity and inactivity. Diabetes experts estimate that the disease speeds up the aging process by roughly a third, damaging the body from the inside out. Too much blood sugar slowly destroys blood vessels, with results ranging from mild—early wrinkling of skin—to catastrophic: heart disease, blindness, stroke, amputations due to poor circulation, and even Alzheimer’s disease (more on that later).

Noakes’ father eventually died from type-2, but because Noakes himself followed a low-fat diet, exercised regularly (he’s run upward of 70 marathons, as well as a handful of ultras), and didn’t smoke, he figured he’d be spared. To be sure, as he got older he put on some weight, and his energy sagged, but he was in good shape.

Regardless, in 2010, Noakes was diagnosed with type-2 diabetes. Though he didn’t know it yet, a lifetime of well-intentioned carbo- loading for his athletic endeavors had set him up for a fall.”

Source: The Truth Behind the World’s Most Cutting-Edge Fat-Burning Performance Meal Plan: The Keto Diet

CDP front cover_Amazon

AMD-2-EBook-Front Cover

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Long-Term Severe Carbohydrate Restriction Is Possible!

I got an email a few days ago from a blog reader, J.H. (I won’t give his name because I didn’t ask permission to publish his letter):

Dr. Parker — I’m a 65 year old male who has battled insulin resistance and pre-diabetes for many years. About 15 months ago I started pursuing a very low carb (20 grams per day) ketogenic diet, and my health has improved significantly. I’ve lost about 35 lbs (down from 265), and I have not found it difficult at all to stay on this regimen. You mentioned in an article (https://diabeticmediterraneandiet.com/ketogenic-mediterranean-diet/) that you don’t believe people can stay with it for more than 6 months and that most people can only last about two weeks. With all due respect, hogwash! I was fortunate enough to become a patient of Eric Westman at Duke, and he does an excellent job of teaching the ketogenic diet to his patients. Any overweight person should give it great consideration, and it’s just not that hard to follow.

Best regards, J.H.

My response was: “Congrats on a job well done! I wish all my patients had your discipline and commitment.”

I have great respect for Dr. Westman. He’s the c0-author of The New Atkins for a New You. I reviewed it in 2010. No clinical studies have compared the effectiveness of Dr. Westman’s diet to my Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet, which attempts to lasso the health benefits of the time-honored traditional Mediterranean diet while helping folks lose weight. The Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet is a key component of Conquer Diabetes and Prediabetes.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: You don’t have to know what ketogenic means to benefit from ketosis.

PPS: I have a non-diabetic version of the Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet for otherwise healthy folks who just need to lose a boatload of weight.

low-carb mediterranean diet

Front cover of book

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Prevent Weight Regain With the Mediterranean Diet

Italian seaside tangentially related to this post

Italian seaside tangentially related to this post

Investigators affiliated with universities in Italy and Greece wondered about the effect on obesity of two ketogenic “Mediterranean” diet spells interspersed with a traditional Mediterranean diet over the course of one year. They found significant weight loss, and perhaps more importantly, no regain of lost weight over the year, on average.

This scientific study is right up my alley. I was excited when I found it. Less excited after I read it.

The Set-Up

This was a retrospective review of medical records of patients of a private nutritional service in three fitness and weight control centers in Italy between 2006 and 2010. It’s unclear whether patients were paying for fitness/weight loss services. 327 patient records were examined. Of these, 89 obese participants met the inclusion and exclusion criteria and started the program; 68 completed it and were the ones analyzed. (That’s not at all a bad drop-out rate for a year-long study.)  The completers were 59 males and 12 females (I know, the numbers don’t add up, but that’s what they reported). Ages were between 25 and 65. Average weight was 101 kg (222 lb), average BMI 35.8, average age 49. All were Caucasian. No diabetics.

Here’s the program:

  1. 20 days of a very-low-carb ketogenic diet, then
  2. 20 days of a low-carbohydrate non-ketogenic diet for stabilization, then
  3. 4 months of a normal caloric Mediterranean diet, then
  4. repeat #1 and #2, then
  5. 6 months of a normal caloric Mediterranean diet

In the ketogenic phases, which the authors referred to as KEMEPHY, participants followed a commercially available protocol called TISANOREICA. KEMEPHY is combination of four herbal extracts that is ill-defined (at least in this article), with the idea of ameliorating weakness and tiredness during ketosis. The investigators called this a ketogenic Mediterranean diet, although I saw little “Mediterranean” about it. They ate “beef & veal, poultry, fish, raw and cooked green vegetables without restriction, cold cuts (dried beef, carpaccio and cured ham), eggs and seasoned cheese (e.g., parmesan).” Coffee and tea were allowed. Items to avoid included alcohol, bread, pasta, rice, milk, and yogurt. “In addition to facilitate the adhesion to the nutritional regime, each subject was given a variety of specialty meals constituted principally of protein and fibers. “These meals (TISANOREICA) that are composed of a protein blend obtained from soya, peas, oats (equivalent to 18 g/portion) and virtually zero carbohydrate (but that mimic their taste) were included in the standard ration.” They took a multivitamin every morning. Prescribed carbohydrate was about 30 grams a day, with macronutrient distribution of 12% carb, 36 or 41% protein, and 51 0r 52% fat. It appears that prescribed daily calories averaged 976 (but how can that be prescribed when some food items are “unrestricted”?).

I found little explanation of period #2 mentioned above, the low-carb non-ketogenic diet. Prescribed macronutrients were 25 or 33% carb, 27 0r 31% protein, 41 or 44% fat, and about 91 g carbohydrate. Prescribed daily calories appear to have averaged 1111.

After the first and second active weight loss ketogenic phases, participants ate what sounds like a traditional Mediterranean diet. Average prescribed macronutrient distribution was 57% carbohydrate, 15 % protein, and 27% fat. Wine was allowed. It looks like 1800 calories a day were recommended.

Food consumption was measured via analysis of 3-day diaries, but you have to guess how often that was done because the authors don’t say. The results of the diary analyses are not reported.

What Did They Find?

Most of the weight loss occurred during the two ketogenic phases. Average weight loss in the first ketogenic period was 7.4 kg (16 lb), and another 5.2 kg (11 lb) in the second ketogenic period. Overall average weight loss for the entire year was 16.1 kg (35 lb).

Average systolic blood pressure over the year dropped a statistically significant 8 units over the year, from 125 to 116 mmHg.

Over the 12 months, they found stable and statistically significant drops in total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol (“bad cholesterol”), triglycerides, and blood sugar levels. No change in HDL cholesterol (“good cholesterol”).

Liver and kidney function tests didn’t change.

The authors didn’t give explanations for the drop-outs.

Although the group on average didn’t regain lost weight, eight participants regained most of it. The investigators write that “…the post dietary analysis showed that they were not compliant with nutritional guidelines given for the Mediterranean diet period. These subjects returned to their previous nutrition habits (“junk” food, high glycaemic index, etc.) with a mean “real” daily intake of 2470 Kcal rather than the prescribed 1800 Kcal.”

Comments

A key take-home point for me is that the traditional Mediterranean diet prevented the weight regain that we see with many, if not most, successful diets.

However, most formulas for calculating steady state caloric requirements would suggest these guys would burn more than the 1800 daily calories recommended to them during the “normal calorie” months. How hard did the dieters work to keep calories around 1800? We can only speculate.

Although the researchers describe the long periods of traditional Mediterranean diet as “normal caloric,” they don’t say how that calorie level was determined  and achieved in the real world. Trust me, you can get fat eating the Mediterranean diet if you eat too much.

I’ll be the first to admit a variety of weight loss diets work, at least short-term. The problem is that people go back to their old ways of eating regain much of the lost weight, typically starting six months after starting the program. It was smart for the investigators to place that second ketogenic phase just before the typical regain would have started!

There are so few women in this study that it would be impossible to generalize results to women. Why so few? Furthermore, weight loss and other results weren’t broken down for each sex.

I suspect the results of this study will be used for marketing KEMEPHY and TISANOREICA. For all I know, that’s why the study was done. We’re trusting the investigators to have done a fair job choosing which patient charts to analyze retrospectively. They could have cherry-picked only the good ones. Some of the funding was from universities, some was from Gianluca Mech SpA (what’s that?).

How much of the success of this protocol is due to the herbal extracts and TISANOREICA? I have no idea.

The authors made no mention of the fact the average fasting glucose at baseline was 103 mg/dl (5.7 mmol/l). That’s elevated into the prediabetic range. So probably half of these folks had prediabetes. After the one-year program, average fasting glucose was normal at 95 mg/dl (5.3 mmol/l).

The improved lipids, blood sugars, and lower blood pressure may have simply reflected successful weight loss and therefore could have been achieved  by a variety of diets.

The authors attribute their success to the weight-losing metabolic effects of the ketogenic diet (particularly the relatively high protein content), combined with the traditional Mediterranean diet preventing weight regain.

The authors write:

The Mediterranean diet is associated with a longer life span, lower rates of coronary heart disease, hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, diabetes and obesity. But it is difficult to isolate the “healthy” constituents of the Mediterranean diet, since it is not a single entity and varies between regions and countries. All things considered there is no “one size fits all” dietary recommendation and for this reason we have tried to merge the benefits of these two approaches: the long term “all-life” Mediterranean diet coupled with brief periods of a metabolism enhancing ketogenic diet.

I’ve attempted a similar merger with my Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet. Click here for an outline. Another stab at it was the Spanish Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet. And here’s my version of a Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Reference: Paoli, Antonio, et al. Long Term Successful Weight Loss with a Combination Biphasic Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet and Mediterranean Diet Maintenance Protocol. Nutrients, 5 (2013): 5205-5217. doi: 10.3390/nu5125205

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