Is the Ketogenic (Keto) Diet right for you?

As Chiropractors, we see a common range of problems including back and neck pain, sciatica, migraines, and fibromyalgia. Many of these conditions can become an ongoing problem when the body part or tissue affected becomes chronically inflamed.

This occurs when inflammation, a normal process that the body uses to help fight infection and repair damaged tissue, does not resolve (maybe due to a multitude of factors), hence leading to chronic symptoms or disease (1).

We use a range of Chiropractic techniques including adjustments, muscle activation, or mobilisation to treat the specific problem. But where indicated, we may also recommend lifestyle changes to some people, to help reduce inflammation in the body generally, in order to promote the body’s ability to heal. The Ketogenic diet may be one of these, as it has demonstrated in the research to do just that.

Remember, however, this diet is not suitable for everyone, so we always recommend you consult with your health professional to consider whether it is right for you; our Naturopaths would gladly assist with this if you need it. They also go through the pros and cons of Keto versus Mediterranean and Paleo diets at our Adapt-ability workshops, where we explore 9 different lifestyle interventions aimed at improving the overall healing capacity of your nervous system.

Keto History

asting has been implemented in dietary regimes since 500BC, largely to treat epilepsy and other health concerns. The ketogenic diet (KD) was fashioned to mimic the metabolic effects of fasting by modern physicians in the 1920’s to again treat epilepsy in children, with great success. The physicians at the time theorised that it was the ketone bodies produced by the breakdown of fat, that were utilised by the brain and central nervous system in place of glucose, due to the depletion of glycogen stores from fasting. They also found ketonemia could be safely maintained for longer periods of time if a low carbohydrate diet was implemented, instead of long-term fasting, and this was when the name ‘ketogenic diet’ was fashioned.

oday, the diet is characterised by a significant reduction in carbohydrate intake, however, there are still inconsistencies in the classification of the KD, and thus the diet is still evolving. However, to induce ketosis, less than 10% or approximately 20-50g/day of carbohydrates in a standard 2000kcal/day diet needs to be followed (although up to 26% or 130g/day of carbohydrates has also been seen throughout studies). Consequently, without carbohydrates, increases in protein and fat are needed. This forces the body to produce ketone bodies as an alternative energy source in the absence of glucose.

The Keto diet EXCLUDES any carbohydrate and starch rich foods:

alcohol, sugar, fruit (berries and low sugar fruits ok), milk, grains, legumes

The Keto diet INCLUDES high protein and fats:

non-starchy vegetables (nothing grown below ground generally), meat, nuts and seeds, cheese/butter, healthy oils

he KD has facilitated quick results in many, but patients often report going back to their original state when they return to their usual eating habits (as with any diet!). Therefore, for optimal and lasting results, a slow transition to a more lifelong diet needs to be implemented, ideally under the guidance of a qualified nutritionist, dietician or naturopath that understands the KD.

The Pro’s of Keto with Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting for a minimum of 12 hours (best results are seen around 16 hours, with an 8-hour eating window) allows your body to focus on organ detoxification and regeneration. Think of it as time put aside for an organ clean and repair. When you haven’t eaten for a while, energy is used cleaning these organs until there is no more energy left, ie. there’s no more glucose left. If you continue to fast after your glucose is used up, the body will start to break down fat for energy. If you then implement the KD concomitantly with intermittent fasting, you’ll break down fat at a higher rate (ketosis), using the fat and the ketone bodies produced (a byproduct of fat burning) as energy, which can fast track weight loss, and allow your body to steadily burn energy. This means your energy will remain consistent throughout the day, without the highs and lows that you would get from eating carbohydrates and reverting back to glucose for energy.

Things to consider:

Any eating plan which removes or markedly reduces a food group is going outside of what the body normally requires. When you reduce one macronutrient, glucose in this case, you have to increase the other two, being protein and fat. Increasing the amount of protein and fat in your diet, if done incorrectly, can cause unwanted biological changes. The KD therefore needs to be done with careful consideration. Currently those that are incorporating too many animal products and certain types of fat, and without enough vegetables, are usually the ones experiencing negative effects. The diet also needs to be undertaken with respect to a person’s heritage.

Furthermore, whilst intermittent fasting can help encourage a smoother transition into ketosis and lead to increased fat burning and weight loss, combining the KD and intermittent fasting may not be right for everyone; practicing one method alone may quite effective, so working with a practitioner to suit your individual needs and monitor your body’s response is always recommended.

Keto tips:

  • You need to increase your water intake to help flush your kidneys. This is because large amounts of protein intake causes a build up of ammonia, a by-product of protein breakdown. This process occurs in the kidneys, and can only be removed in urine.
  • Increased fat puts pressure on your liver and gallbladder. No matter the type of fat, all fats require bile which is produced and stored/released by these organs. Therefore, anyone with gallbladder or liver problems* (known or unknown) would need an altered form of the KD OR the diet may not be suitable. Using bitter greens and supplements/herbs to support liver and fat breakdown can be utilised with great success

*Liver/gallbladder issues include: gallstones, fatty liver, hepatitis, alcoholism, any type of drug addiction or anyone who is taking multiple medications.

  • Remember that you are eating for a shorter window of time – that usually means 2 large meals and 2 snacks (obviously this is flexible). So ensure you have keto appropriate snacks to not only ensure optimal nutritional intake of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients (nutrients from plants), but also to ensure proper calorie intake appropriate for your needs (which will largely depend on your physical activity level)
  • If you are following the diet strictly, then a follow-on keto style diet needs to be developed for long term implementation in order to maintain optimal health. A strict keto diet is best short-term, partly due to the pressure on certain organs and for many just to be able to be more flexible with their diet.

Who should not try this diet WITHOUT the ‘All Clear’?

This diet is not recommended for children or teens, unless treating the aforementioned conditions and ONLY under professional supervision. Pregnant and breastfeeding women, those with thyroid issues or those with liver/gallbladder problems should also avoid implementing the KD unless under supervision of a trained nutritionist/naturopath/dietician.

Studied conditions that have shown to be benefited by the KD:

  • Epilepsy
  • Cardiovascular disease including high cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • Neurodegenerative diseases incl. Alzheimer’s
  • Diabetes
  • PCOS
  • Endometriosis
  • Longevity
  • Varied results on gut microbiota – due to inconsistencies in diet protocols.

Book An Appointment

If you have any questions on this topic, please call us on (07) 3357 3366 or alternatively, you can book an appointment at Blue Align Chiropractic.

We’d love to help you experience better health.


DISCLAIMER: All content is created and published online for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health or personal advice. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.

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