By now you have probably heard of the latest diet trend called the “ketogenic diet”. The word “keto” has become plastered on social media, thrown on food labels at grocery stores, and surely talked about amongst some of your friends and family. According to a recent study, the ketogenic diet is being used worldwide with various countries.1 It’s advertised as a weight-loss wonder with its low-carbohydrate, and high-fat eating plan. But should you really attempt this diet and are there any risks involved? Keep reading to find out more about this new diet trend.
Originally, the keto diet was actually made to treat children with epileptic seizures. The diet eventually started to also be used as a method for weight loss, and short-term, mixed results have been seen. Since it is low-carbohydrate (think: no bread, potatoes, rice, starches, fruit), your body is forced to find a different energy source other than from carbohydrates. So, the body has to rely on ketone bodies, which is a type of fuel that the liver produces from stored fat. However, this is a tricky process that takes a few days to acquire. It also requires eating a large amount of both unhealthy fats (oils, lard, and butter) and healthy fats (nuts, seeds, avocados, and olive oil) at every meal. You can eat any type of protein (beef, pork, bacon), but if you eat too much it will interfere with the ketosis process. Vegetables and fruit that are high in carbs should be restricted.
For weight loss, this diet shows mixed, short-term results. We also don’t know if the keto diet works in the long term or if it is even safe. Since it is high in unhealthy fat, it increases one’s chance of heart disease. It also causes nutrient deficiency from lack of vegetables, fruits, and grains. Liver problems, kidney problems, constipation, and mood swings have also been seen as risks of the keto diet. The main problem with the keto diet (along with other fad diets) is that it is simply not maintainable for a lifestyle. Eating high-fat at every meal can be nearly impossible as well as not great for one’s health. And with the multiple risks involved, one should consult with a doctor or registered dietitian before attempting this diet. Knowing what the keto diet really is can help you make the right decisions for your own health and wellness to maintain for a lifetime.