There are diets that don’t survive a fad season. It was like that with the moon, whose principle was to drink only liquids for 24 hours when the Earth’s natural satellite changes phase, and with several others that proposed similar inadmissibles. This is not the case with the ketogenic diet, which is based on severely restricting the consumption of carbohydrates and significantly increasing the intake of proteins and fats. For at least five years, the regime has bypassed the ups and downs between preferences and, since last year, it has remained at the top of the list of top diets, according to a survey by Pollock Communications, an American public relations agency specializing in serving companies in the food sector. And the prediction, according to research carried out with nutritionists and nutritionists in the United States, is that the keto diet will reign absolute for many years.
The secret of such success in a universe as competitive as diets is the rapid weight loss promoted by ketogenic. Adele, the English singer, lost 45 kilos in six months. Kourtney Kardashian, one of the family members who hypnotizes followers on social media, keeps her 45 kilos on the diet. Model Sasha Meneghel, Xuxa’s daughter, shed 8 kilos. At the same time, what for fans is a victory to be celebrated – without pizza, of course – represents, in the opinion of most doctors, something that may not be so good for health. The dash of controversy adds the finishing touch to the recipe for popularity.
Ketogenic emerged in the early twentieth century as an option for the treatment of epilepsy, a neurological disease that leads to uncontrolled movements and seizures. The best known proposal is that of the American physician Russell Wilder, who shed light on the term ketogenic when he developed this regimen that promotes metabolic conditions similar to those induced by prolonged fasting. In this condition, without the energy from glucose provided by carbohydrates, the body uses fuel from ketone bodies, products made from the transformation of fat into glucose. The fat, until then stored, is being burned. When determining the restriction to carbs, the successful diet triggers similar mechanism. The guideline is to ingest up to 10% of the nutrient daily, five times less than suggested for a balanced diet. As our glucose reserve lasts a maximum of 36 hours, after this period the body goes into ketosis and gets its fuel from stored or ingested fat.
On keto’s menu, there is a lot of protein and healthy fats, like those found in vegetable oils. What can’t are sweets, breads, processed foods. Analyzed by this aspect, the diet is healthy. “Sugars promote inflammatory processes. The diet eliminates this risk”, says the nutritionist physician Pablo Llompart, who recommends the regimen. On the other hand, several studies suggest that the absence of carbohydrates and excess fat cause cardiovascular and liver problems. “Ketogenics can have harmful long-term consequences,” says cardiologist Sara Seidelmann, from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and author of a study of the dietary patterns of more than 400,000 people worldwide.
There is at least one consensus: rapid weight loss serves as a stimulus for adherence to a healthy lifestyle. The difficult thing is to follow it for a long time. In addition to tiredness and mood swings in the first few days, the menu can make you sick. “We have to learn to make everyday food tasty. That way, it’s easier to go on a diet without despairing on the third day”, advises chef Dani Faria Lima, who takes care of the menu for actor Reynaldo Gianecchini, a new fan of ketogenics. Two more guidelines: be accompanied by a doctor and resist the smell of warm bread at breakfast. Difficult.
Published in VEJA of September 8, 2021, edition nº 2754