The Ketogenic Diet Plan. Is it good for Liver Disease?

In this article I am going to give you details about a Ketogenic Diet, the dangers of low carb diets and some of the benefits. Remember low carb diets can be very good for liver disease sufferers.

Just a quick word of CAUTION. You should always check with a medical professional/dietician before deciding to start a diet like this! Whilst low carb diets were all the rage at one time nowadays, based on the research gathered, the high levels of stimulant hormones created can cause thyroid issues, heart irregularities and blood pressure issues for some, whilst the rest of us simply feel more healthier.

The objective of a ketogenic diet is to get the bodies metabolic system into a state of ketosis. This is where you start to burn fat cells for all your energy needs.

Ketosis is a proven process that encourages the body to survive during times when no food is available to you. It has been shown to improve disease conditions such as Autism, Epilepsy , Alzheimer’s, Cancer and a few  others.

So how does a Ketogenic diet help with liver disease?

Glad you asked. When you read on you will see that this type of diet trains the body to burn fat as opposed to sorting it and placing it around the body and then storing any access in the liver which causes liver disease. Read this article first so you have a better understanding of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Do I need to be concerned about the “dangers of low carb diets”?

Firstly, you need to be aware that most trained doctors don’t really understand the effects that eating different foods have on the body, so you may be told that ketosis is dangerous.

This is because many doctors confuse ketosis with ketoacidosis which are two different conditions.

In my honest opinion the “dangers of low carb diets” are really just hype created by people who have a limited understanding of how these types of low carb diets work.

Fat Intake

Most people struggle on a ketogenic diet plan because they are apprehensive about increasing the amount of fat they eat, especially saturated fat.

We’ve all heard that fat is bad for you so it’s hard to ignore the message that eating fat makes you fat, and saturated fat is very bad for you.

Should I be so bold and say “what a load of rubbish” sort of.

The reality is:

A high carb diet pushes up blood sugar and insulin levels. All that sugar and insulin are what is called inflammatory. Our standard lifestyle offers lots of food that are high in sugar & high in saturated fat, and in a number of studies, these two factors were thrown together. So the fact that saturated fat is healthy, it was not surprising it got the blame for the inflammation that causes heart disease.

A ketogenic diet plan which is high in saturated fat and very low in carbohydrate will REDUCE inflammation.

Saturated fat is not harmful when incorporated into a low carb diet. This quote from a study that Johns Hopkins Medical School carried out confirms this.

The ketogenic diet plan is healthier because the higher saturated fat intake increases your HDL cholesterol, and at the same time, a lower carb intake decreases your triglycerides levels. These two factors are the major markers for heart disease, and the closer your triglyceride/HDL ratio is to 1, the healthier your heart”.

In reality, the cause of heart disease is a continually high carbohydrate intake, not a high saturated fat and cholesterol intake.

If you seriously want to try this diet I would advise a full blood test before you start, then carry on with the diet for 3 months, then have your blood work checked again. You’ll then see the difference it has made and how much better you feel.

The ketogenic is a very low carb diet, but it is not a zero carb diet.

If it turns out that you are one of these people who doesn’t feel well on very low carb levels, usually adding enough carbohydrate back into your diet should resolve the issues, and still allow for the health benefits, and weight loss.

The Basic Concepts of a Low Carb Diet.

There are lots of low carbohydrate, ketogenic diet plans for you to choose from. (The Atkins diet being the most famous). They all require you to follow a higher fat, moderate protein, low carb food plan.

The main difference between a ketogenic diet plan and a regular low carb diet plan is the amount of carbohydrate and protein that you are allowed on a daily basis.

A ketogenic diet plan requires you to track the carb amounts in the foods you eat and keep carbohydrate intake between 20-50 grams per day. Your daily protein requirement will be moderate, which depends on height, gender and obviously how much exercise you do.

The balancing of calories will be from fats. These ratios ensure that most people go into ketosis and remain there, which, as I mentioned before, is the main objective of the ketogenic diet.

The required nutrient intake on a ketogenic diet usually works out to about 70-75% of calories from fat, 20-25% from protein, and 5-10% from carbohydrate again, on a daily basis. As a ketogenic diet reduces hunger pangs, most people find they don’t really need to count calories.

Why is it high fat and moderate protein?

Fats have no effect on insulin and blood sugar levels and protein effects both if large quantities are eaten. If you overeat on protein, about 56% of the excess protein will be converted to glucose (sugar), and that extra glucose hanging around will increase insulin levels, and stop the body’s ability to release and burn fatty acids (ketosis).

Also, eating a diet that requires lots of lean protein (without enough fat) can cause sickness. It can also mess up the metabolism in other ways.

General Side Effects

Switching over to a ketogenic diet plan will not be easy at first. Below is a list of the most common side effects that tend to occur in the first week when you start a ketogenic diet.

If you are aware of them, you can take steps to minimize them, and prevent “carb withdrawal” misery.

Dr. Mike Eades has a great explanation for this process. He says:

“When you’ve been on the standard American high-carb diet, you’re loaded with enzymes ready to convert those carbs to energy. You’ve got some enzymes laying in the weeds waiting to deal with the fat, but mainly dealing with it by storing it, not necessarily burning it. All the pathways to deal with carbs and their resultant blood glucose are well-oiled and operating smoothly.

Then you start a low-carb diet. Suddenly, you’ve idled most of the enzyme force you have built to process the carbs in your diet while at the same time you don’t have a ready supply of the enzymes in the quantities needed to deal with your new diet.

It would be like a Ford automobile factory changing in one day into a plant that made iPads. All the autoworkers would show up and be clueless as how to make an iPad. It would take a while – not to mention a lot of chaos – to get rid of the autoworkers and replace them with iPad workers. In a way, that’s kind of what’s happening during the low-carb adaptation period.

Over the first few days to few weeks of low-carb adaptation, your body is laying off the carbohydrate worker enzymes and building new fat worker enzymes. Once the workforce in your body is changed out, you start functioning properly on your new low-carb, higher-fat diet. The carbs you used to burn for energy are now replaced to a great extent by ketones…”

How can you get started with a Ketogenic Diet Plan?

The best advice would bet to get a book that explains the science behind ketogenic diets and read it cover to cover. Make sure you understand everything that is going to happen when your carbohydrate intake drops. Metabolically speaking Ketogenic diets are very powerful.

It is especially important to understand everything if you take medication for blood pressure.

These resources are highly recommended:

The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living: An Expert Guide to Making the Life-Saving Benefits of Carbohydrate Restriction Sustainable and Enjoyable

Get a carb counter guide. This will help you learn and remember the carb counts for the foods your eating. Counting carbs is an important part of the program, and it’s important to understand how to carry this out correctly.

Dana Carpender Carb Gram Counter New Edition by Carpender, D. published by Fair Winds Press (2004)

The Ultimate Guide to Accurate Carb Counting: Featuring the Tools and Techniques Used by the Experts (Marlowe Diabetes Library)

USDA Nutrient database: This resource is free on the web.

Fitday. Carb counting software

A quick note on Food labels.

Be aware that food manufacturers have a bad habit of bending the truth about how many carbs are in their products. Remember to check serving sizes as well. A large container  of yogurt may say that there are 16 carbs per serving, you need to make sure you check to see how many servings are in the container. If there are two servings, total carb count will be32, not 16.

The carbohydrate sweep. Check kitchen cupboards and  the refrigerator, and remove any high carb foods that you find. This includes any whole grain “complex carbs”.

Below is a low carb food list. Restock the kitchen, so that the foods on this list are available.

This low carb grocery list is by no means comprehensive, but should point you in the right direction. My best advice is to stick to eating mostly real foods such as fresh meat, wild caught seafood, fresh vegetables and natural fats like butter. Canned foods like tuna and salmon are helpful in a pinch, when you need something quick and low carb.

This is not a full list but having these available will keep you from straying in quick fix food territory.

  • Chicken -either whole or parts.
  • Beef steaks.
  • Bacon, ham and sausage.
  • Pork loin, steaks or chops.
  • Pork or beef ribs.
  • Beef or pork roasts.
  • Ground beef.
  • Turkey

Deli Meats:

Cold cuts such as pastrami & turkey breast (check for added sugars). Pepperoni slices or sticks, Salamis, Prosciutto,

Seafood: any type.

Easy-to-peel Shrimp, any fresh or frozen fish, Tuna in oil or Brine, fresh or canned Salmon, fresh or frozen Scallops & Crab.

Dairy Products:

Eggs, Sour cream, Cream cheese, Butter.

Hard cheeses like cheddar and parmesan.

Soft cheeses like muenster and farmer.

Greek yogurt, plain, full fat. Make sure that the carb count is less than 7 per serving.

Low carb vegetables:

Bell peppers, Broccoli, Cucumbers, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Sprouts & Summer Squash’s.

Leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale. Kale is classified as a super food!

Onions and garlic: to add flavour to your meals.

A ketogenic diet plan is not a “special diet” and therefore does not require special foods. These foods simply need to as close to their natural state as possible.

You will need to spend more time in the kitchen. A ketogenic diet menu involves preparing, cooking and eating real food.

You will need to think about your meals, and then plan them. This will enable you to buy the right foods at the grocery store. If you know in advance what you’re supposed to have it makes it a lot easier to avoid choosing the old high carb foods you used to eat.

A very important factor is to stay hydrated. As your carb intake is lowered, the kidneys will start to dump the excess water the body has been holding. Drink enough water to replace what gets lost. If you find yourself getting headaches or muscle cramps, you need more water.

There is now a blood ketones meter available which is much more accurate than Ketostix Reagent Strips to track your ketone levels. You will need the meter to check that you are in ketosis for a least the first few weeks of starting this diet.

It’s important to track daily food intake and carb counts. Try keeping a spread sheet, or simply write it down in a notebook. Not only will this help you stay on track counting carbs, you’ll have a record of the foods you are eating and how you felt. If you veer off track, you can look back and see what worked.

The key to being successful in any diet especially a low carb diet is to stay focused. You are doing this to not only lose weight but to live a healthier life.

Think about social events and plan ahead. DO NOT weigh yourself every day because your weight can vary between 2-4 pounds/1-1 ½  kilos each day because of changes in your water intake and absorption rate.

Hopefully you have enough information to seriously give some thought to starting a ketogenic diet plan. I can’t remember who said it but life is not a practice run for something better. This is it.

Good Luck