Non-communicable Diseases

Keto diet : Staying healthy, adopting a very low-carb diet

It can’t be bottled and sold.

Sadly, there are also no risk-free quick fixes or waving of magical wands.

Weight loss is a piece of work, a period of devotion.

This is a moment where you are committed to the science and the mastery of the self and body as one unit. Getting on the Keto diet is more than counting calories in every meal.

It is a personal pledge to observe set principles to lose weight.

Described as a game changer, the use of the ketogenic diet has been lauded by scientific research that recommends it to shake off those extra kilos.

But how does the Keto diet work ?

Dr Daniel Katambo

Dr Daniel Katambo, a diabetes specialist and weight management expert explains that this very low carbohydrate diet mimics the effects of fasting causing the body to produce ketones.

“During starvation, the body is forced to burn fats rather than carbohydrates. In a ketogenic diet, the main source of energy is fat and when this is combined with a low intake of carbohydrates, the body makes ketones,” Dr Katambo said.

If your cells don’t get enough glucose, your body burns fat for energy instead. This produces a substance called ketones, he adds

Dr Katambo warns that despite the popularity and celebrated efficiency of the keto diet, failure rates can be quite high when an individual does it without medical consultation.

The ketogenic diet is not a new tool in weight and diabetes management. It was used in the 1920’s to treat other health conditions and in the last decade, it has gained immense popularity primarily because of its successful short-term effect on weight loss.

The Keto diet comprises the following;

  • A high proportion of healthy fats
  • Adequate levels of healthy proteins
  • Vegetables and very minimum to zero carbohydrates

“The keto diet was used in the 1920’s to manage seizures in persons who had epilepsy. However, this was later dropped with the development of anti-convulsive medicines but not for too long. A couple of years later, when epilepsy control was not achieved in some patients especially children, the keto diet was re-introduced, “ noted Dr Katambo.

Keto diet can be used to reverse diabetes through its wweight management principle

History aside, the main scientific reason for being on a keto diet is to lose weight, which can also be used to put diabetes into remission. While on this diet, the insulin levels drastically drop leading to improve on insulin resistance leading to shedding the kilos.

What is the difference between being overweight and an obese?

Overweight and obesity are defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health.  The World Health Organisation considers a body mass index (BMI) of over 25 as overweight, and over 30 as obese.

The World Health Organisation observes that overweight and obesity are now dramatically on the rise in low- and middle-income countries, particularly in urban settings.

Dr Daniel Katambo observes that whereas the principles of adopting this diet are universally understood, it’s use requires expertise on its implementation to align with the culture and locally available foods.


Side effects

“A person on a keto diet should be monitored by a health expert due to some short-term side effects informally known as ‘keto flu’ which includes symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, fatigue, headache, dizziness, constipation, and low exercise tolerance, said Dr Katambo.

However, Dr Katambo notes that these symptoms typically resolve after a few days to weeks as the body adjusts to the ketogenic state.

How sustainable is this diet?

According to Dr Katambo, personal discipline and commitment are needed to manage enhance adherence to the Keto diet.

“Once the person assumes previous lifestyle, the weight returns unforgivingly,” he said adding that for persons who had diabetes Type 2, there is a chance that they will revert back to medication including insulin.

In other studies, the ketogenic diet has shown some promise in managing some neurological disorders, like epilepsy, dementia, ALS, traumatic brain injury, acne, cancers, and metabolic disorders.



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