D'Agostino has shown that using ketogenic diets can make a difference both in weight loss and in battling conditions such as neurological diseases and certain types of cancer. He noted that his research indicates high fat low carb ketogenic diets can foster physical and cognitive performance. As a result, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) facilitates his studies.
Terming his work "a brand new area," the professor said he feels fortunate to be at the cutting-edge of "exploring the potential of using this alternative form of energy -- ketone bodies -- as a way to augment and enhance physical performance and also cognitive performance or brain-energy metabolism."
For athletes who want to try a high fat low carb diet, D'Agostino admits that it's a dramatic change from traditional carbohydrate-loaded food plans. "The ketogenic diet is a big, big radical shift for most people that are carbohydrate-performing athletes. And I think for them to give it an honest try, they've got to give it a minimum of like to four to six weeks to start to get the benefits, and I say like two to three months really."
On the other side of the globe, Professor Timothy Noakes, a South African professor of exercise and sports science at the University of Cape Town, also has been conducting investigating how high fat low carb diets can help with athletic performance. In an exclusive interview on Oct. 3, Noakes offered his own insights into how long it takes for an athlete to become adapted to a ketogenic diet. He is the author of “Challenging Beliefs: Memoirs of a Career."
"Feedback from athletes and personal experience suggests that it takes from six weeks to six months. Most biological processes do not take a very long time so most of the adaptation should occur by six weeks. But there may be benefits thereafter as one refines the diet and discovers exactly what is ideal for one as an individual," he explained.
The media has taken some heat for misrepresenting ketogenic diets. Asked to name the biggest misconception, Noakes said he disagrees with the description of these plans as "high fat." He feels that the emphasis should be placed on the reduction of carbohydrates.
"They are actually low carbs and usually the amount of fat consumed may not be any greater than when one was eating the high carb diet," said the professor. "This is because the amount of total calories that one eats, is reduced on the LCHF (low carb high fat) diet. As a result the absolute amount of fat ingested may not be much more than before. So we need to find a better name and this would make it more acceptable."
The increasing popularity of the Atkins diet, which is also a LCHF ketogenic weight loss program, has helped to make these plans more palatable to the public. Although the initial phase primarily allows only healthy fats, protein and a controlled amount of non-starchy vegetables, subsequent phases include fruit. But not all fruits are created equal when it comes to carbohydrates, reported Stylecaster on Oct. 3.
One cup of grapes, for example, has 26 grams of carbohydrates. A small banana has almost as many carbohydrates at 24 grams, while a cup of mango has 25 grams. Pears, apples and pineapple also are high in carbohydrates.
In contrast, berries are winners for those on low carb diets. One cup of blackberries contains 14 grams, while one cup of strawberries has only eight grams. And if you don't mind doing a lot of peeling and dicing, one medium kiwi contains just nine grams of carbohydrates.