From Ancient Greece to 2020 - The Keto Diet - Is It Good or Bad?

A few friends have asked me what my opinion was to the Keto diet. To be honest, I heard about it many years ago and recognised the name, but hadn’t yet dug in deep to see what it was all about. So, for the last week I have been looking into it. I found that the Keto Diet is steeped in history, which dates back to Ancient Greece and helps reduce and/or cure epilepsy. You may also have heard of intermittent fasting too which is closely linked to the research of Keto. 

Before we start, I just wanted to give you a little backstory of the first time I found out that food is the fuel. There are a lot of dangerous practices out there, so much misinformation and total lies it’s hard to understand what your body needs to thrive.

My first real lesson in nutrition came from an old friend and mentor Michael Murphy. He is the coach and Dad who led former WBU Super-Middleweight World Champion, Lawrence Murphy, through his career. I was sitting with Michael in Forgewood Boxing Club in Motherwell just after sparring and told him that my morning runs were hard and it was getting me down. It felt like I couldn’t get my engine going, nor my breathing regulated and my legs just had nothing to give.

I remember the way he looked at me, as if I should have known. He asked me, “What d’you have for breakfast?” I told him the truth, I was eating nothing. That’s how I thought you lost weight back then. He leaned in and said, “Son do you like coffee or tea”? I said coffee, and he asked, “How much sugar?” I told him one, and he advised me to take three the next morning and one chocolate hob nob biscuit. So, as he said, I got up at 5am and put on the kettle, it was 05:05 by the time I was dipping my one chocolate hob nob in my three sugar coffee.

By 5:15am I was on my doorstep, hoody on, ice on the road and foggy. Ten minutes into the run, I had already doubled the distance I had been running for weeks. I found my stride effortless and felt like I was running on air, my breathing good, my legs were working again and with each stride I pushed a little more. I had been down in the dumps from getting up in the morning to go for a run that would take thirty minutes at night, but a full hour in the morning. Michael had awoken a fascination for food as a fuel source and not a hindrance to my training. Food for fuel? I had never thought of it like that back in the early 2000s.

When I was younger, like everyone else I knew, we starved and dehydrated ourselves to get down to the lower weight classes. This is NOT how you treat your body when you need it to reach peak performance, and not how we eat and hydrate now. It’s been over thirty years since my first job as a trainer and for years and years I did not understand why we eat what we do. 

The main theme of our nutrition philosophy is to boost metabolism and then maintain it. The goal for our boxers is to strengthen their bodies and minds for their fights at specific weights and on certain dates. We are vigilant to each one of them, their lifestyle, their habits, bad moods, lack of energy, too hyper, or not hyper enough.

In the past eleven years I have been working with top boxers, performers in the music, TV, radio, and the corporate world. In the last few years, I have been working with the scuba diving industry on Koh Tao, Thailand. No matter who I’ve trained, we have reached outstanding results in changing both bodies and minds, with long-term results.

I heard about the Keto diet many years ago in Australia and one of my mentors blasted it as a ‘fad diet’, which results in immediate weight gain when you stop or break for a while. So, that was that-until now. 

It intrigued me to find out more. What it is, and where it came from? and also, to learn the benefits and if there are negatives, we should be aware of.

My first Google search was with the word, ‘Keto’. All I found was lots of advertisements for a 28 day beginners guide and many others. So, not in it to buy it, I started digging deeper into where it came from.

WHAT IS KETO?

Keto is short for Ketogenic or Ketosis. Being in the state of ketosis is when the body does not have sufficient access to its primary fuel source, glucose. When Ketosis kicks in after a few days, because they have starved the body of the ‘normal fuel’ it breaks down fat cells as its main fuel source.

The keto (ketogenic) diet is high in fat, low in carbs and a medium amount of protein that the medical industry have used to treat patients who have epilepsy. 

WHERE DID THE KETO DIET COME FROM?

Believe it or not, to answer this we have to go back to Ancient Greece.

I got my references from Google searches and the links are available for you to do your own due diligence at the bottom of this article. Here’s a news report I found from 1922 on Dr Hugh Conklin’s “water diet” treatment.

“Physicians of ancient Greece treated diseases, including epilepsy, by altering their patients’ diet. An early treatise in the 'Hippocratic Corpus, In The Sacred Disease’, covers the disease; It dates from c. 400 BC.

Its author argued against the prevailing view that epilepsy was supernatural in origin and cure and proposed that dietary therapy had a rational and physical basis. In the same collection, the author of Epidemics describes the case of a man whose epilepsy is cured as quickly as it had appeared, through complete abstinence of food and drink.

The royal physician Erasistratus declared, “One inclining to epilepsy should be made to fast without mercy and be put on short rations.” Galen believed an “attenuating diet” might afford a cure in mild cases and be helpful in others.”

So, just getting my head around this for a minute. Four-hundred years before Christ, and one-hundred years before Buddha, which is around the time when Sparta went to war with Persia; the Ancient Greeks found a cure for epilepsy. Isn’t that fascinating?

It’s also sad because if they did that back then, why are people suffering in 2020? I tell you why. Greed. The information being bought up, suppressed and hidden away in archives. Allowing the elite educational industry to teach their own findings and promote the elites pharmaceutical agenda. Most cures come from nature and not from a lab. Some may argue that but even penicillin came from nature. Penicillium chrysogenum is a common fungus found in sub-tropical regions. It was in the lab environment that it was discovered to fight bacteria by Scottish bacteriologist Alexander Fleming. He came back from a holiday and noticed the green fungus contaminated one of his dishes and killed the bacteria he had growing. Nature created it and man found it and took it to the lab.

I am not sure where the western world lost its way, but I am very aware at the good old age of forty-eight that there’s no need for ignorance anymore. The world has awoken and learning of new ways to fuel your body, and the reasons this benefits us should be the priority for everyone. I have found if you follow one regime, you will starve yourself of vital nutrients, however, if you adopt many methods and ideologies, you win. Believe it or not, the body likes change and responds well to new diets and new exercise routines.

The key to understanding the body, is to understand how food works as fuel within it. I can understand this from being in the fitness industry for so many years. You are what you eat. All we have to do is watch Tyson Fury’s rise and fall, then rise again. We can learn a lot from the world heavyweight champion and his trainer Ben Davidson. Their task was to lose 10 stone (63kg). That is as heavy as a light-welterweight boxer! How do you fuel a giant to lose fat and maintain muscle strength? They worked it out perfectly.

Most adults know that a car operates with adequate fuel such as petrol and needs oil and water as a coolant. The breaks need fuel (brake fluid), as does the gears and steering, lights and so on. Each component needs the right amount of fuel or lubricant at the right time for the vehicle to operate. If one part is sluggish, the whole vehicle is sluggish. Makes sense right? Its science and there are genius engineers designing vehicles these days.

Your body is far more complex than a car and needs loads of different fuel to keep it functioning while it’s in motion and resting. Each muscle and every bone needs to move in unison with every fibre and nerve. If one thing goes out the whole system goes down with it. Most of us live in a “system down” mode and only experience a few of the pleasures a healthy body and healthy mind can bring to your life.

Your brain, muscles, bones, blood and metabolism need certain foods at certain times to operate. Athletes know this and live in that moment. That’s why they are so rare and special because to live in this zone you have to discipline beyond most peoples understanding.

The ancient Greeks realised that when epileptic patients ate the same food as the ‘average’ person they would suffer seizures. By removing certain foods from their diet, they sussed out that they could reduce the symptoms. Just so you know, epilepsy is a neurological disorder marked by sudden recurrent episodes of sensory disturbance, loss of consciousness, or convulsions, associated with abnormal electrical activity in the brain.

In 1911 two French physicians, Guelpa and Marie authored the first modern scientific report on the value of fasting as a treatment for epilepsy. The Expert Centre for Rare Epilepsies, Department of Pediatric Neurology, CHU Hôpital Robert-Debré, APHP, Paris, France, analysed the article from the turn of last century in 2019 and had this to say:

“We analysed the article of Guelpa & Marie, published in 1911 and often quoted in the history of dietary treatment, as the basis for the use of a ketogenic diet to mimic fasting. In this paper, the authors treated 21 patients with a diet consisting of daily administration of 30 grams of sodium sulphate for 4  days, with unlimited aqueous beverage and no food, followed by a vegetarian diet restricted to half of the ordinary intake. This is the first report of intermittent fasting as a treatment strategy for epilepsy. In this case series, 15 patients did not follow properly the diet, while 2 improved temporary before they quitted the diet and 4 presented an improvement.”

Not a great start, but enough to get the scientist talking. As the next decade moved on, an osteopathic physician, Dr. Hugh William Conklin of Michigan, treated his epilepsy patients by also recommending fasting. Conklin treated hundreds of patients with his “water diet” and boasted a 90% cure rate in children, falling to 50% in adults. Later analysis of Conklin’s case records showed that 20% of his patients achieved freedom from seizures and 50% had some improvement.

Conklin’s fasting therapy was adopted by neurologists in the mainstream practice. By the 1920s the parent of one of Conklin’s patients, Charles C. Howland, a wealthy New York corporate lawyer, gave his brother John Elias Howland a gift of $5,000 to study “the ketosis of starvation”.

Here we are 100 years later. Until now, my research has shown me that the keto diet originated from the Ancient Greeks and was used to help epileptic patients. 1500 years later, the research reopened and once again; the subject was epileptic patients.

Lets move on fifty years because when this modern research started the world was just coming out of the WWI and then into WWII. I am sure there were a lot more to think about eating than Keto, Paleo, or Atkins and surviving the post-war years. Diets became popular in the 70s when Atkins hit the mainstream.

ATKINS vs KETO


They are both very similar except on the Atkins diet, you add more carbs as you progress. Whereas the Keto diet keeps you in Ketosis for longer.

Okay, so I have learned that the Keto diet was created out of extensive research in the treatment of epilepsy way back in ancient Greece (400BC) and then over two thousand years later in the 1920s. I am fascinated by this and keen to learn more and why it is now a fat loss program.

Before I dive into it, let’s recap. The Keto Diet is a nutritional plan that was devised for patients with epilepsy. With a bit of further research I see it come back into modern medicine around the 1990s and is also used for Alzheimers patients too. So far in my research, the Keto diet it remarkable and has my thumbs up 100%. Lets look at the diet and see what’s serving up.


Sample Meal Plan for One Week

The Keto diet also has morning and afternoon snacks included in the daily plan. 


Monday

Breakfast: Two eggs fried in pastured butter served with sautéed greens.

Lunch: A grass-fed burger (no bun) topped with cheese, mushrooms and avocado atop a bed of greens.

Dinner: Pork chops with green beans sautéed in coconut oil.

 

Tuesday

Breakfast: Mushroom omelet.

Lunch: Tuna salad with celery and tomato atop a bed of greens.

Dinner: Roast chicken with cream sauce and sautéed broccoli.

 

Wednesday

Breakfast: Bell pepper stuffed with cheese and eggs.

Lunch: Arugula salad with hard-boiled eggs, turkey, avocado and blue cheese.

Dinner: Grilled salmon with spinach sautéed in coconut oil.

 

Thursday

Breakfast: Full-fat yogurt topped with Keto granola.

Lunch: Steak bowl with cauliflower rice, cheese, herbs, avocado and salsa.

Dinner: Bison steak with cheesy broccoli.

 

Friday

Breakfast: Baked avocado egg boats.

Lunch: Caesar salad with chicken.

Dinner: Pork chops with vegetables.

 

Saturday

Breakfast: Cauliflower toast topped with cheese and avocado.

Lunch: Salmon burgers (no bun) topped with pesto.

Dinner: Meatballs served with zucchini noodles and parmesan cheese.

 

Sunday

Breakfast: Coconut milk chia pudding topped with coconut and walnuts.

Lunch: Cobb salad made with greens, hard-boiled eggs, avocado, cheese and turkey.

Dinner: Coconut chicken curry.

  

All of this looks great, healthy and delicious.

I wonder, why did my old boxing coach dissed it a few years back?

Let’s see if there are any dangers we should know about.

Through Google, I found a report by Amanda MacMillan, updated in December 2019.

In this report she documents that doctors say that, the keto diet can be helpful in treating epilepsy; it’s unclear why, but something about a ketogenic state seems to reduce the frequency of seizures. Animal studies have also suggested that the diet may have anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, and cancer-fighting benefits. However, as a general weight-loss plan, keto is more controversial. Some health experts warn against it entirely, citing unpleasant side effects, health risks, and the diet’s unsustainable nature. Even many keto diet proponents admit that, if the diet’s not done “the right way,” it can be the opposite of healthy.

Here are a few things you should know about the ketogenic diet before you try it to lose weight. Yes, you might drop pounds, but also watch out for the following side effects or complications. 

7 Dangers of Going Keto



1.  The “Keto Flu”

“Some people report that when they start ketosis, they just feel sick,” says Kristen Kizer, RD, a nutritionist at Houston Methodist Medical Center. “There can sometimes be vomit, gastrointestinal distress, a lot of fatigue, and lethargy.”

2.  Diarrhea

If you run to the bathroom more often while on a ketogenic diet, a quick internet search will show you you’re not alone.

(Yes, people are tweeting about keto diarrhea.) This may be because of the gallbladder—the organ that produces bile to help break down fat in the diet—feeling “overwhelmed,” says Axe.

Diarrhea can also be because of a lack of fiber in the keto diet, says Kizer, which can happen when someone cuts way back on carbs (like whole- grain bread and pasta) and doesn’t supplement with other fiber-rich foods, like vegetables. An intolerance to dairy or artificial sweeteners—things you might be eating more of since switching to a high-fat, low-carb lifestyle can also cause it.

In a recent study in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, Weiss and his colleagues found that participants performed worse on high-intensity cycling and running tasks after four days on a ketogenic diet, compared to those who’d spent four days on a high-carb diet. Weiss says that the body is in a more acidic state when it’s in ketosis, which may limit its ability to perform at peak levels.

3. Reduced Athletic Performance

Some athletes swear by the ketogenic diet, not just for weight loss but for improved performance in their sport, as well. But Edward Weiss, PhD, associate professor of nutrition and dietetics at Saint Louis University, doesn’t buy it. “I hear cyclists say all the time that they’re faster and better now that they’re on the keto diet, and my first question is, 'Well, how much weight did you lose?'” he says.

In a recent study in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, Weiss and his colleagues found that participants performed worse on high-intensity cycling and running tasks after four days on a ketogenic diet, compared to those who’d spent four days on a high-carb diet. Weiss says that the body is in a more acidic state when it’s in ketosis, which may limit its ability to perform at peak levels.

“Just losing a few pounds is enough to give you a huge advantage on the bike, but I’m very concerned that people are attributing the benefits of weight loss to something specific in the ketogenic diet,” Weiss continues. “In reality, the benefits of weight loss could be at least partially canceled out by reductions in performance.” 

4.  Ketoacidosis

If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you shouldn’t follow the keto diet unless you have your doctor’s permission and close supervision, says Kizer. “Ketosis can be helpful for people who have hyperglycemia issues, but you have to be very mindful of your blood sugar and check your glucose levels several times a day,” she says.

That’s because, for people with diabetes, ketosis can trigger a dangerous condition called ketoacidosis. This occurs when the body stores up too many ketones—acids produced as a byproduct of burning fat—and the blood becomes too acidic, which can damage the liver, kidneys, and brain. Left untreated, it can be fatal. 

5.  Weight regain

Because the keto diet is so restrictive, health experts say it’s not an appropriate plan to follow long-term. (Even Axe says it’s best done for 30 to 90 days, followed by a more sustainable diet plan.) But the problem with that, says Kizer, is that most people will regain a lot of the weight when they go back on carbs.
 
“It’s an issue with any fad diet, but it seems to be extra common with wellness advice, and healthy inspiration straight to your ketosis,” says Kizer. “When people tell me they want to try it because their friends lost weight, I always tell them, ‘Just watch, I almost guarantee that they’ll gain it all back.’”

These types of back-and-forth weight fluctuations can contribute to disordered eating, Kizer says, or can worsen an already unhealthy relationship with food. “I think the keto diet appeals to people who have issues with portion control and with binge eating,” she says. “And in many cases, what they really need is a lifestyle coach or a professional counselor to help them get to the bottom of those issues.”

6.  Less muscle mass, decreased metabolism

Another consequence of keto-related weight changes can be a loss of muscle mass, says Kizer—especially if you’re eating much more fat than protein. “You’ll lose weight, but it might actually be a lot of muscle,” she says, “and because muscle burns more calories than fat, that will affect your metabolism.”

When a person goes off the ketogenic diet and regains much of their original weight, it’s often not in the same proportions, says Kizer: Instead of regaining lean muscle, you’re likely to regain fat. “Now you’re back to your starting weight, but you no longer have the muscle mass to burn the calories that you did before,” she says. “That can have lasting effects on your resting metabolic rate, and on your weight long-term.”

7.  Increased risk of heart disease and diabetes

Axe says that, when done right, the keto diet includes lots of vegetables and lean sources of animal protein. In other words, it’s not an excuse to eat butter and bacon—although some people may try to do just that.

That’s why many health experts are concerned about people on the ketogenic diet, especially those who try it without the guidance of a doctor or nutritionist. Doctors say that high-fat diets like this one may raise cholesterol levels, and some studies suggest that they increase the risk of diabetes. Some have even called it a “cardiologist’s nightmare.”

Just this week, a 25,000-person study presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Munich suggested that people on the lowest-carb diets had the highest risk of dying from cancer, cardiovascular conditions, and all other causes. Another study, published this month in the Lancet, also found that people who followed diets that were low in carbs and high in animal proteins (typical of the keto diet) had a higher risk of early death compared to those who consumed carbs in moderation. (The opposite was true, however, for low-carb dieters who opted for plant- based proteins over meat and dairy.)

“Whether you’re in the Paleo camp or the Keto camp or the vegan camp, everyone agrees that we want to have a nutrient-rich diet,” Axe says: “Lots of vegetables, herbs, spices, and plant-based sources of fat and protein, too.”

“If you’re not doing that, you’re promoting disease in the body—it’s that simple,” Axe says. (And yes, that’s true even if you still lose weight in the beginning.) “If you’re just going to eat butter and bacon,” he adds, “I’d rather you not do the keto diet at all.”

Summary

This article went on a little longer than I anticipated and I could continue further but I think I get the jist. The Keto Diet is a high-fat diet that starves the body of vital nutrients in an effort to force the body to break down fat cells as fuel, rather than use carbohydrates. This state is called ketosis.

One thing that I have read over and over is that there are many benefits of this diet, but also many considerations. If you are to go on this diet I would recommend you have a professional guiding and counselling you.

If I were to trial this method, I would do it for no more than 30 days. In my opinion, when the body is starved of something, it is deficient of something. I don’t agree that the body should be missing out in nutrients to gain fat loss. Why punish your body anymore?

With a good, consistent exercise and nutritional plan the world can be your oyster. Without it, it can be a struggle. The body needs fats, carbs, enzymes and protein. It’s quite simple. The Keto diet plays with portion sizes and restricts carbs and protein while saturates with fat. As you have read, this is great for specific patients, but not sustainable for the public who are looking to improve their health long term.

If the Keto diet is the first one you have tried, then it should work for you for a while, but to live a normal life, you need to know how the metabolism works. Which foods are fast burners, slow burners and high in nutrients. 

A long-term plan for a strong, healthy life needs to be with balanced exercise routine and nutritional plan. I believe in this 100%.

I agree with my old boxing coach and mentor. This Keto diet is a fad diet and even though it is helping millions of epilepsy and alzheimers patients, it will not help the average person who works 9-5 because it’s difficult to sustain for the long-term. There are too many nutrient deficiencies and way too much fat going into the system on a daily basis to be considered a healthy way of living long-term.

It may work for Jenna Jameson the porn star and Halle Berry the actress because they have most of their meals cooked for them, have a trainer, a gym and everything else they need to make it easier. So good on them for promoting it but they do miss out a few key factors that most reports post 2018 are claiming. There are dangers of being on this nutritional plan long-term. 

In the next article I will discuss metabolism and foods that burn like a furnace and have the energy of a lithium ion battery. Losing weight should be fun and not so painful. There should be no need for deep mood swings, diarrhoea or anything like that. Even though in the boxing gym we say no pain no gain, we also say, be kind to your body and your brain.

Please feel free to leave comments, ask questions and share around. I am sure there will be many Keto fanatics who want to share their story, please do. I want to hear it all, positive and negative. This is how we learn.

All the links to the research are below if you want to know more.


See you soon,

Denny

 

 

Related Reference Links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ketogenic_diet

https://www.uchicagomedicine.org/forefront/health-and-wellness-articles/ketogenic-diet-what-are-the-risks

https://www.health.com/weight-loss/keto-diet-side-effects

https://ketoschool.com/the-43-health-benefits-of-ketogenic-dieting-in-addition-to-weight-loss-1e4ee4743f1f

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-long-does-it-take-to-get-into-ketosis

https://www.kidsdiscover.com/quick-reads/penicillin-found-functional-fungus/

 

  

 
                                                                   
  
 

 

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