Despite an abundant anecdotal and scientific history, many modern-day physicians—often underschooled in nutrition and over-reliant on pharmacotherapy—have written off KDs as being unsustainable and unsafe, thanks in large part to the demonization of dietary fat. Now, however, after a significant increase in research on KDs and a shift in opinion regarding dietary fat, ketogenic diets are experiencing a comeback.
“The low-carbohydrate way of eating in general is probably the safest thing you can do to improve your diet,” he continued. “It is not really a joke to say that we know that low-carbohydrate diets are safe because the medical establishment has spent 40 years trying to find something wrong with them, and they never come up with anything. Of course, most of the ‘concerns’ are just mindless fear of doing something different, but there have been serious tests of potential risks, particularly in cardiovascular disease. In fact, [KDs] usually prove to be beneficial—they lower triglycerides dramatically and increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the so-called good cholesterol. The low-fat message never had a scientific foundation and is finally being recognized as a mistake.”
Nutritional ketosis is a normal, strictly benign, and tightly regulated physiological process. Yet, medical practitioners often confuse it with ketoacidosis, a pathological condition seen in some insulin-dependent diabetics (type 1, or T1D) when they are under stress and/or have failed to administer enough insulin. This confusion has led to the mistaken idea that KDs and nutritional ketosis are inherently dangerous.
Fats from sources such as butter, coconut oil, and extra virgin olive oil make up the remainder of the KD macronutrient equation (usually at between 70–85% of daily calories).
“Given that this diet is low in carbs and moderate in protein, the majority of calories need to come from fat,” he says, with a limited amount of those rich in polyunsaturated fat (e.g., corn, soybean, safflower, cottonseed, and peanut oils). “You don’t need to worry about increasing saturated fat intake. We have repeatedly shown that on a ketogenic diet, blood levels of saturated fat actually decrease as the fat-adapted body prefers to burn them as fuel,” Volek says.
In the fat-adapted body, the kidneys tend to discard more water and salt, which can result in reduced plasma volume, fainting, and a general “washed-out” feeling (sometimes called the “Atkins flu”). “An easy solution,” Volek says, “is to take an extra 1–2 g of sodium/day as broth, bouillon, or soup. And in particular, on days you exercise, be sure to take 1 gram of sodium to prime your circulation 30 minutes before your workout.”
Cancer”The Warburg effect is the single most common malady expressed in all cancers,” noted Thomas N. Seyfried, a professor of biology at Boston College and author of Cancer as a Metabolic Disease: On the Origin, Management, and Prevention of Cancer.
“The Warburg effect” refers to Otto Warburg, the German Nobel laureate and physician who hypothesized that cancer arises largely from impaired energy metabolism (mitochondrial dysfunction), which then produces genetic instability.
“The mitochondrial defects force cancer cells to use fermentation as a major source of energy production for growth and survival,” Seyfried wrote in an email. “Consequently, the restriction of fermentable fuels (primarily glucose and glutamine) will target cancer cell growth and survival.”
The beginning of the Letter on Corpulence
Of all the parasites that affect humanity I do not know of, nor can I imagine, any more distressing than that of Obesity, and, having emerged from a very long probation in this affliction, I am desirous of circulating my humble knowledge and experience for the benefit of other sufferers, with an earnest hope that it may lead to the same comfort and happiness I now feel under the extraordinary change, which might almost be termed miraculous had it not been accomplished by the most simple common-sense means.
—William Banting, 1863, who lost 50 pounds on a low-carbohydrate diet.
It was well known certainly with livestock and poultry before the analytic and chemical understanding of protein, carbohydrate and fat that, for example, a diet with too much corn vs. legumes or grains like oats (with what we know now to be more protein) could cause a fatal accumulation of fat in animals.