Keto is a newer trend diet, or so many people may think. Keto has actually been around since the 1920’s, and was originally popular as a tool for reducing seizures in epileptic patients. But a renewed interest as a weight loss diet, and techniques to stay the course of this diet, has exploded in the last couple of years. The keto diet is all about keeping the diet low in carbs and high in fat. To follow the guidelines of keto, it is recommended to have less than five percent of calories in carbs, 20 percent in protein, and 75 percent in fat. Following this regiment will put the body in a state of ketosis, which trains the body to break down fat for energy, thus the weight loss begins. Dietician Richelle Gomez, MS, RDN, LDN of Northwestern Medicine McHenry Hospital states that cutting carbs and upping fats is what makes the body burn more fat. “Your body turns carbohydrates into glucose for energy. When you cut carbs from your diet, you switch to burning fatty acids, or ketones,” Gomez explains. One on the path of keto, it takes about three weeks for the body to switch from using carbohydrates for energy to burning fatty acids, or ketones, for energy. Once this transformation happens, one’s body is officially in a state of ketosis. But this diet is not without its share of drawbacks. To learn more about the ketogenic diet, check out these pros and cons of keto.
You can definitely lose weight.
Melinda R. Ring, MD, who is the director of Northwestern Medicine Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, says that there is evidence that people lose weight with keto. “People also report feeling less hungry than on other types of restricted diets,” said Ring. Experts also say that the body feels less hungry because fatty acids take longer to break down in the body than other foods.
People also report feeling less hungry than on other types of restricted diets
You don’t have to avoid fats.
The whole concept of keto is to eat more fats, which is refreshing in comparison to other diets that require an extreme restriction of fats. Who doesn’t want to eat more high-fat foods, like fatty meats and fish, cheese, butter, and spreads? This is one of the reasons this diet is so popular.
This diet has great health benefits for certain people.
For people who suffer from seizures, the keto diet is extremely helpful. It can also be a great diet for athletes to use when they need to cut their weight quickly. Leading researchers are also exploring the benefits of keto for people with neurological disorders, like Parkinson’s disease.
The diet can be difficult to adhere to.
The restrictive nature of keto is just like any other diet, which makes it hard to stick to. Cardiologist Kameswari Maganti, MD says that keto is good for a short period of time to lose weight, but can cause yo-yo dieting ultimately — one dieting trap that can increase mortality rates.
Keto can lead to nutritional deficiencies.
“Because the keto diet is so restricted, you’re not receiving the nutrients — vitamins, minerals, fibers — that you get from fresh fruits, legumes, vegetables, and whole grains,” says Dr. Ring. This lack of nutrition can lead to fatigue and brain fog, so much so, that the condition has a name: keto flu. The lack of fiber in the diet can also cause constipation.
Because the keto diet is so restricted, you’re not receiving the nutrients — vitamins, minerals, fibers — that you get from fresh fruits, legumes, vegetables and whole grains
There is a risk of kidney disease.
Patients who have renal issues may be at risk on this diet, which also begs the question if there are any risks even for those with normal kidney function. “Patients with kidney disease have an increased risk of requiring dialysis on the keto diet due to the additional ketones that their renal system has to process,” says Dr. Maganti. Additionally, there are issues with hydration. The keto diet is essentially removing glycogen from the bloodstream, which helps to hold water in the body. Because of this, some people have reported extreme cases of dehydration on the keto diet.
Patients with kidney disease have an increased risk of requiring dialysis on the keto diet due to the additional ketones that their renal system has to process
It is possible to develop obsessions with dieting and food restriction.
The risk with any diet that involves heavy restriction is the same — you essentially become obsessed with monitoring everything you eat in order to make the diet work. “When you micromanage your food intake by tracking how much you eat, it disconnects you from what your body is asking for. You start using outside numbers to determine what to eat instead of listening to your body.” This type of over-excessive monitoring oftentimes leads to shame and guilt associated with everything related to food and consumption.