We Love Keto, But Are Keto Diets Safe For Everyone?
While the ketogenic diet is getting a lot of attention these days, the eating philosophy isn’t new. In reality, it’s been used as an epileptic medication since the 1920s, and it was brought back into the spotlight in the 1990s when Dateline aired a program on it. But how did it make the transition from epilepsy treatment to a weight-loss program? For starters, a lot of celebrities have been lauding this weight-loss strategy publicly — Tim Tebow, LeBron James and The Kardashians just to name a few. So, really, are keto diets safe?
First, what exactly is a ketogenic diet? It’s a high-fat, low-carb diet that puts your body into a ketosis state, where it burns fat for energy. You will end up eating an incredible amount of fat if you eat this way — often less than 50 grams of carbohydrates each day. In fact, the keto diet requires you to consume 60 to 80 percent of your daily calories from fat.
When you restrict carbs and eat more fat, it takes around 24 to 48 hours for your body to start creating ketones, which are produced when fat is used for energy instead of carbs.
If you want the full run-down, check out our full guide: What Is Keto, Anyway?
“When following the keto diet, about 60 to 80 percent of your daily calories will come from fat.”
— NBCNEWS.COM— NBCNEWS.COM
Most people think of calories when they hear the word “diet,” but on the keto diet, caloric intake isn’t the main focus. Individual needs vary day to day depending on activity and other circumstances, and your body can be in a ketogenic state at a variety of different calorie levels.
You won’t want to add a latte to your morning routine or even an extra piece of fruit to your afternoon snack, however. If you eat a lot more, you risk coming out of ketosis — and if you don’t eat enough fat, you also risk falling out of ketosis.
To summarize, in order for the keto diet to be effective, you must follow it to the letter. You’d be eating a high-fat diet and dragging your body out of that fat-burning ketosis state if you introduced cheat meals or cheat days, which could have significant health repercussions.
Pros of The Keto Diet
The diet’s main benefit, and one of the reasons why many of its adherents laud it, is weight loss. Several studies have yielded promising results: Obese males lost roughly 14 pounds after following the diet for a month, according to a research published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Obese adults who followed a ketogenic diet for roughly six months lost significant weight — on average, 32 pounds — as well as lower total cholesterol and higher levels of healthy HDL cholesterol, according to a longer-term study published in Clinical Cardiology. The weight reduction shown in the first three to six months of following the keto diet was also bigger than the loss seen in a conventional balanced eating style, according to a review study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Weight loss is common on the keto diet because your body burns fat for energy. You may also notice a decrease in appetite, which is a common side effect of the diet. Furthermore, fat is digested far more slowly by the body than carbohydrates. Fat has a longer intestinal transit time than carbohydrates. As a result, that feeling of fullness will last longer, especially between meals.
While some people argue that following the diet limits them at social gatherings involving food, Lara Clevenger, MSH, RDN, a dietitian in Edgewater, Florida, suggests that you can easily plan ahead. She explains, “I’m currently on a ketogenic diet, and eating out is a lot easier than people assume. You can get a burger without the bun, fries, and a side of vegetables. Order a chef salad without the croutons and ask for olive oil as the dressing. There are so many options!”
Due to a family history of obesity, hypertension, breast cancer, diabetes, and dementia, Clevenger began the keto diet for its anti-inflammatory advantages.“I’m going to stick to a ketogenic diet for the time being,” she says.“I now have two to three times more energy, I no longer have difficulties falling or staying asleep, I am more aware of my hunger and satiety, and I am no longer addicted to sweets. The diet has had a far greater impact than I had anticipated!”
Aside from weight loss, studies show that the ketogenic diet can assist with a variety of other ailments, including type 2 diabetes, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), acne, and more.
Cons of The Keto Diet
As with every diet, there are benefits and drawbacks. You may experience side effects such as bad breath, headaches, nausea, and exhaustion if you follow the ketogenic diet. The “keto flu” refers to the bad symptoms that some people suffer when they first begin the diet.
This weariness is caused by a dip in blood sugar, which can produce lethargy and lasts for 24 to 48 hours. Ketosis functions as a diuretic, so you may feel bloated or constipated, and you may need to urinate more frequently.
You’ll be at risk for nutrient deficits because the ketogenic diet restricts your meal choices. Because you can develop specific deficits on a ketogenic diet that can impair your capacity to stay in ketosis, the diet necessitates a comprehensive supplement routine.
A ketogenic diet can also create vitamin shortages, which can lead to hair loss, and many people feel constipated. To avoid these adverse effects, we suggest talking to a doctor and a ketogenic dietician about the diet.
It’s also crucial to remember that if you’re on a diet to lose weight, you can gain it back if you return to your old eating habits. A ketogenic diet is excellent for some people, but it isn’t a long-term diet for everyone. Doctors and dieticians often see benefits for those with chronic diseases like epilepsy, type 2 diabetes, and PCOS, but sometimes detrimental affects for others who are trying to lose weight.
While additional research on weight loss maintenance after a ketogenic diet is needed, research reveals that over the course of a year, cycles of brief ketogenic diet periods separated by longer periods of Mediterranean diet helped obese persons maintain their weight loss.
There are some people who should avoid giving the keto diet a try. It can be harmful for persons with type 1 diabetes because it raises the risk of diabetic ketoacidosis, which can be fatal (DKA). To avoid DKA, even people with type 2 diabetes who follow a ketogenic diet should test their blood sugar and ketone levels on a frequent basis.
If you have kidney illness, you should avoid this diet because your protein intake must be restricted. If you have a history of disordered eating, the diet restricts carbs and requires a great deal of self-control, which may raise your risk of bingeing or compulsive overeating. Consult your doctor to see if this is the best diet for you.
“Difficulties including poor bone health, gastrointestinal reflux, and changes in cholesterol levels might go unnoticed if not monitored by a competent healthcare professional.”
— Julie Stefanski, RD— Julie Stefanski, RD
The Bottom Line
If you plan to follow the keto diet, talk to a trained dietitian about the most balanced diet you can have, as well as any supplements you might need to take.. “Difficulties including poor bone health, gastrointestinal reflux, and changes in cholesterol levels might go unnoticed if not monitored by a competent healthcare professional,” says Julie Stefanski, RD, a registered dietitian in York, Pennsylvania. On the ketogenic diet, maintaining a nutritional balance can be difficult, which is “unsurprising given that you’re effectively cutting out healthful whole grains, fruits, and some vegetables.”
On the keto diet, daily carbohydrate allowances will vary from person to person. To stay in ketosis, some folks will need to consume 15 grams of net carbohydrates, but certain professional athletes may be able to consume more than 120 grams of net carbs. This is yet another reason why it is better to construct the diet with the help of a professional.
Because the keto diet is heavy in fat, you’ll want to be sure you’re getting enough good fats in your diet. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in salmon and sardines, as well as monounsaturated fats found in avocado, walnuts, almonds, and sunflower seeds, are examples.
Overall, remember be careful and do your homework before you put your body through any serious diet changes. You only get one, treat it right!
Images and dietetic information sourced from: Diet Doctor, NBC News