As a personal trainer, I am exposed to all types of questions regarding nutrition and diets. Majority of the time I have an answer and provide the information they need but that isn't always the case. Recently many clients have been asking about the ketogenic diet and if it is right for them. Initially, I always say the same thing when it comes to a question on a specific diet - if you can't do it for a lifetime, don't do it at all. Therefore, the ketogenic diet (a low-carbohydrate diet, higher fat consumption, higher protein consumption and scheduled fasting stages) is something that isn't recommended. I did want to find out more information on the diet itself and what our registered dietitian (RD) thought about it.
Rachel Suba, RD, LD is currently the online registered dietitian for Full Scale Fitness. She also is the head of the sports and nutrition program at the University of Oklahoma. Rachel is a highly sought after in her field and I 150% take her professional and clinical word to be the truth. So I asked Rachel, "What is your professional opinion on the ketogenic diet?"
"My professional opinion on the ketogenic diet:
1. It’s only been scientifically proven to be beneficial for those with the medical condition epilepsy. Even so, only been found to be effective in children.
2. The diet itself puts you in a TOXIC state of ketosis and those in ketosis (for medical purposes) are monitored by a physician.
3. It cuts out key food groups with key nutrients the body needs.
4. Carbs are you brains MAIN fuel source and even some brain cells cannot function without carbs.
5. As far as sport performance, research does not show an improvement in performance and in fact even shows decreases in performance since the body has to work harder to process foods and therefore it takes longer to get the “energy” from the foods.
6. The long term impact is that people regain the weight back (if they’re using it for weight loss).
7. Other negatives - Muscle loss (due to the lack of carbohydrates to supply muscle growth), constipation (missing a lot of fiber), high cholesterol (due to the high fat consumption), and deficiencies in vitamins and minerals.
Overall, it’s a fad diet and isn’t advised by health professionals." - Rachel Suba, R.D., L.D.
Please keep in mind that carbohydrates are what fuel your body to keep going! Carbohydrates are digested and stored into the muscle tissue / liver as glycogen. This glycogen is then extracted and broken down by enzymes through a process called glycolysis and formed into adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is what your body uses for physiological processes / muscle contractions and is found in all living tissue. Therefore, a decrease in carbohydrates equates to a decrease in ATP production and that is not beneficial for any athlete or individual exercising (again, see bullets 5 & 7).
You heard it here first folks! Avoid the ketogenic diet unless you've been suggested to do so by a licensed physician and/or registered dietitian. If you're looking for help on finding the right "diet" or nutritional program to follow, contact us at Full Scale Fitness! We will gladly help you out. Our personal trainers are always eager to help clients out in the nutritional field and for those that need the extra assistance (such as a meal plan or consultation), our registered dietitians are here to help as well!