It sounds like the ketogenic diet-aka the keto-diet- is gaining popularity since it promises to turn your body into a fat-burning machine or achieve magical weight loss. Many are questioning its safety and whether it is recommended or not. To know my point of view, read through this blog!
What is the keto-diet?
The keto-diet is not something new as it has been used for more than 100 years to treat epilepsy especially in children. However, its weight loss purpose is still controversial. The Keto-diet is a low-carb diet where the body produces ketones in the liver to be used as a main source of energy instead of carbohydrates. It contains a little amount of carbs, 20 to 50g per day, which is equivalent to a max of two slices of bread and a banana. It is a high protein diet which contains fat-rich meats, with 70% of the calories coming from fat compared to only 30% in the balanced diet. The meals consist mainly of meats, processed meats as sausages, eggs, cheeses, fish, nuts, butter, oils, seeds, and fibrous vegetables.
What are its drawbacks?
One of the main concerns from following this diet is the consumption of unhealthy saturated fats from processed foods which also contain potentially harmful additives and preservatives. It is associated with increased risk of dyslipidemias-elevated blood lipids, and cardiovascular disease, and it is also not recommended for people suffering from kidney impaired function, liver disease, and pancreatitis who need to limit their protein intake.
Weight loss is the primary reason why people are following the keto-diet. However, many studies have shown that those individuals might experience weight regain-thus entering the cycle of yo-yo dieting.
From my knowledge and experience, following a restrictive diet for more than a month will only lead to muscle and water loss and not to sustainable weight loss. Moreover, elimination of a main macronutrient such as carbs, will lead to metabolic changes upon re-introducing this macronutrient into the diet which eventually leads to its storage in the body as fat. Therefore, this diet might lead to rapid weight loss followed by a rapid weight gain!
Also, the produced ketones are removed from the body through frequent urination which may lead to dehydration and flu-like symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness, irritability, nausea, and muscle soreness. Much more water intake is required to overcome those symptoms. Moreover, our body will also lose certain essential minerals as potassium, magnesium and sodium which can cause lethargy and muscle cramps.
This diet might help in lowering insulin levels and blood sugar; however, it also might lead to severe hypoglycemia which can be serious if not treated immediately by the intake of 15g of simple carbohydrates-like 1/2 cup of fresh juice or 3 sugar cubes!
No need to mention constipation, due to less fiber intake, impaired sleep due to low insulin and serotonin levels, and acetone-smelly breath due to elevated blood ketone levels. It is definitely not recommended for people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulosis, or irritable bowel disease such as Chron’s disease or ulcerative colitis since it might aggravate the condition and symptoms.
It is true that the keto-diet is becoming trendy among people seeking rapid weight loss. But, with all the accompanying drawbacks for such short-term results, do you still think it’s worth the hassle?! I believe it’s not, instead I would recommend following a healthy lifestyle, enjoying healthylicious meals, and thinking long term!
- Licensed Clinical Dietician LD, BSc and MSc in Clinical Nutrition from USEK, Lebanon