As a plastic surgeon based in Houston, Texas, one of the things my patients often ask me is how diet can affect or even complement their aesthetic goals. Whether one goes on a diet to condition their body before surgery or uses it as a means of maintaining significant weight loss, a good diet when combined with a healthy lifestyle can really do wonders for the body.
Over the last few years, the Keto diet has become one of the more popular options for people all over the world. So with that, let’s take a brief moment to examine what this diet is, how it affects the body, and how it can aid the body before or after cosmetic surgery.
A Brief History of the Keto Diet
The concept of fasting is nothing new. For thousands of years, physicians understood how fasting can play an integral part in healing the body. By the early twentieth century, doctors began focusing their attention on using fasting as a means of controlling the symptoms suffered by epileptics. In 1921, Dr. Rollin Woodyatt found that the liver produced ketones when the body maintained a high fat or low carbohydrate diet. Later that same year, Dr. Russell Wilder coined the name “Ketogenic Diet” and began to use it as a treatment for epilepsy.
Decades later in the 1990s, the Charlie Foundation began to heavily promote the Ketogenic Diet as a means of treating epilepsy. With increased national and international consciousness surrounding the diet; it did not take long before others began seeking it out as a means of managing their own weight.
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How Does Keto Work?
Under most diets, the body uses glucose as its primary source of energy. However, when one is on the Keto Diet, the body has to compensate by burning fatty acids instead. The absence of glucose allows the body to produce three ketones by breaking down the fatty acids:
- Beta-hydroxybutyric Acid
The release of ketones into the bloodstream is brought on by the limited intake of carbohydrates, with some practitioners maintaining a strict limit of only 50 grams of carbs each day. This is the equivalent of two slices of whole wheat bread or a 1 – 3/4 cup of oatmeal.
While the idea of consuming the diet may seem incredibly attractive to many; there must always be a strong balance of fat, protein, and carbohydrates. While there are many different ways to find the right balance based on your needs and preferences, specialists often suggest a simple breakdown of:
- 75% fat
- 20 % protein
- 5% carbohydrates
The Benefits of Keto
Without a doubt, Keto’s greatest benefit is its ability to help people shed off a substantial amount of weight in a relatively short period of time. This is particularly true for a number of my patients who have undergone body contouring procedures, since maintaining a set weight may be a necessity before surgery. In addition, the diet also helps diabetics manage and stabilize the levels of blood sugar in their bodies.
Since the introduction of the diet nearly a century ago, many physicians have been looking into the potential benefits for patients who suffer from neurological and physical conditions including diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease and even cancer. While there are steps being taken to further investigate the diet as a possible treatment; there is still no medical evidence to support these claims at this time.
Risks and Complications from Keto Diet
While the benefits can be very alluring, it is worth mentioning that it is by no means perfect. If unmonitored, the Keto Diet can have long-term risks on the body that include:
- Muscle Atrophy
- Acidosis (Increased presence of acid in the blood)
- Kidney stones
Additionally, people who begin the Keto Diet will often experience a number of short-term symptoms that may affect their mood and behavior. Constipation, a short temperament, and a decrease in energy are common issues during the body’s transition period between diets.
Keto & Cosmetic Surgery
As mentioned before, the Keto Diet is beneficial to patients who are required to lose weight prior to body contouring surgery. When this happens, a patient’s body mass index (BMI) may be above the required limit; prompting the need for dietary restrictions in order to ensure a safe and secure surgical outcome. This can even extend into a lasting post-operative lifestyle change that can maintain the final results.
For many others, body contouring procedures such as the Tummy Tuck or Liposuction have become a necessary option when diet and regular exercise cannot eliminate fat from traditionally stubborn areas of the body as such the hips, thighs, and belly. People who are considering cosmetic surgery as an option must schedule an appointment with a board-certified plastic surgeon to ensure that it is the right choice for them.
Ultimately, the addition of a healthy diet and regular exercise can do wonders for anyone regardless of their goals. But, it is always important to take the necessary steps to learn as much as you can before starting any kind of diet. With the right mindset and an active lifestyle, anyone can reap the benefits from dietary options such as Keto.
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Author’s bio: Cara Downey, M.D. is a board-certified plastic surgeon who has plied her craft at several medical centers across Houston, including Sugarland and North Houston. Dr. Downey specializes in both cosmetic and reconstructive procedures of the face, body and breasts.