I’ve put together a very-low-carbohydrate Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet for loss of excess weight.
Your body gets its energy from either fats, or carbohydrates like glucose and glycogen. In people eating normally, at rest, 50–60% of the energy comes from fats. In a ketogenic diet, the carbohydrate content of the diet is so low that the body has to break down even more of its fat to supply energy needed by most tissues. Fat breakdown produces ketone bodies in the bloodstream. Hence, “ketogenic diet.” Also called “very low-carb diets,” ketogenic diets have been around for over a hundred years.
There are several practical advantages over other diets (disputed by some authorities):
- unlimited access to many high-protein and fatty foods
- less trouble with hunger
- better short-term weight loss than many other diets
- lower blood sugar levels, which is important to people with diabetes, pre-diabetes, and metabolic syndrome
- reduced insulin levels in people who often have elevated levels (hyperinsulinemia), which may help reduce chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, some cancers, and coronary heart disease
- improved levels of HDL cholesterol and triglycerides, which may reduce risk of heart disease
- it obviously works well for a significant portion of the overweight population, but not for everybody
- better adherence to the program compared with other diets, at least for the short-term
- The Mediterranean diet is widely recognized as the healthiest diet.
- Despite an emphasis on bread, pasta, fruits, legumes, and certain vegetables, the Mediterranean diet has several healthy components compatible with a very low-carb eating style:
Although cheese is a component of the traditional Mediterranean diet, I can’t argue that it provides nutrients you couldn’t get elsewhere.
Long-term effects of a very-low-carb or ketogenic diet in most people are unclear—they may have better or worse overall health—we just don’t know yet. Perhaps some people gain a clear benefit, while others, with different metabolisms and genetic make-up are worse off.
If the diet results in major weight loss that lasts, we may see longer lifespan, less type 2 diabetes, less cancer, less heart disease, less high blood pressure, and less of the other obesity-related medical conditions.
Ketogenic diets are generally higher in total fat, saturated fats, and cholesterol than many other diets. Some authorities are concerned this may increase the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke, while others disagree.
Ketogenic diets have the potential to cause kidney stones, osteoporosis (thin, brittle bones), gout, deficiency of vitamins and minerals, and may worsen existing kidney disease.
It’s clear that compliance with very-low-carb diets is difficult to maintain for six to 12 months. Many people can’t do it for more than a couple weeks. So, long-term effects haven’t come into play for most users. As with most weight-loss diets, regain of lost weight is a problem. I anticipate that the majority of people who try a ketogenic diet will stay on it for only one to six months, with significant loss of excess body fat. After that, more carbohydrates can be added to gain the potential long-term benefits of fruits, legumes, additional vegetables, and whole grains.
Click here to view a three-page PDF of the Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet, version 2.3. If you try it, I’d love to hear about your experience with it. Email me at steveparkermdATgmailDOTcom.
Disclaimer: All matters regarding your health require supervision by a personal physician or other appropriate health professional familiar with your current health status. Always consult your personal physican before making any dietary or exercise changes.
Last modification date: February 13, 2012