Understanding the Ketogenic Diet
It seems that every few years — or even every few months, these days — a new fad diet steps into the spotlight. Atkins, South Beach, and Paleo have all had their moments in the sun. Today, it’s all about the Keto or Ketogenic diet.
While most diets cut fat, the Keto diet actually depends on lots of it. It’s a high-fat, low-carb, moderate-protein plan. Generally speaking, devotees aim to get about 75 percent of their calories from fat, 20 percent from protein, and just 5 percent from carbs. To compare, the Dietary Guidelines dictate that average, healthy people should aim to get 20 to 35 percent of their calories from fat, 10 to 35 percent from protein, and 45 to 65 percent from carbs. So to say that the Keto lifestyle is a major shift from the norm is not an understatement.
Indeed, this is a true lifestyle change that requires some significant planning, especially since reaching for lots of high-fat foods flies in the face of most get-fit plans. The benefit, Keto followers say, is that without carbs, the body will burn fat instead of glucose. And since carbs attract water, cutting back on carbs means the body will shed lots of water weight at the onset. One study even found that women on the Keto diet burned more body fat with resistance training than those who followed a normal diet.
Keto dieters tend to reach for foods like whole fat Greek yogurt, nuts, coconut oil, salmon and tuna (thanks to their high omega-3 content), algae, avocados, eggs, and even bacon.
The downside? One study found that fatigue and hunger abound when first switching to the Keto lifestyle, and other studies have found that it could harm the kidneys if followed long-term since dehydration and high-calcium urine aren’t exactly renal-friendly. Followers also have to be careful about loading up on too many unhealthy fats, which can increase LDL cholesterol and a person’s risk for cardiovascular trouble.
It’s important to weigh the pros and cons of any diet before starting. But for anyone choosing the Keto lifestyle, enzymatic supplementation may help with the digestive challenges associated with this diet. “Consuming an abundance of fatty foods could cause digestive disturbances for the gastrointestinal tract that may include; occasional diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and constipation,” says Dr. Naeem Shaikh, vice president of research and innovation at National Enzyme Company. “The body is hydrophilic, and 60 percent of the body is water. When excessive amounts of fat (a hydrophobic) are ingested, the overall digestive process is dominated by the fact that dietary lipids are non-polar, compared to other macronutrients such as carbohydrates and proteins. The fat digestion is a very complex process and requires fully coordinated lingual, gastric, intestinal, biliary and pancreatic functions, in some cases, resulting in inefficient fat absorption.”
Enter NEC’s Ketogenic enzyme formula, created to address high fat and moderate protein intake. “Additionally, for the small amount of carbs allowed in the Keto diet, the formula relies on a specialty enzyme used to convert free glucose into hard to digest complex polysaccharides, that can be used by the body as prebiotics,” says Shaikh. A well-designed digestive enzyme blend, then, has the potential to make the Keto diet easier on the digestive system, and may help devotees adhere to this very challenging diet.