What’s the Buzz about the Ketogenic Diet?
What is it? This is a diet consisting of larger amount of fats, moderate amount of proteins and extremely low carbohydrate consumption. Twenty to fifty grams of carbs or less are consumed daily. (For context, there are 25 grams of carbohydrates in an apple and about 50 grams in a bagel). Reduced carbohydrate intake puts the body in a state of ketosis where stored fat is broken down and used for energy instead of the carbs we normally eat.
Ketosis is a normal process that the body goes through. The purpose of the ketogenic diet is to keep the body in this metabolic state for longer to burn fat and promote weight loss.
If you are considering the ketogenic diet, here are some pros and cons and other things to consider:
High potential for initial quick weight loss.
Short-term improved metabolic changes (insulin resistance, triglycerides, blood pressure, cholesterol).
High fat foods such as butter, certain hard cheeses, and fatty cuts of meats are allowed.
Decrease in appetite-stimulating hormones and increased feelings of satiation from high-fat foods.
Research shows positive potential for epilepsy treatment and other chronic illnesses.
Reduced whole foods consumption and intake of vitamins and minerals from fruits, starchy vegetables and grains.
Difficult to sustain due to low carb restriction.
Little research on long-term health effects.
Side effects can include: nausea, halitosis, headache, fatigue, insomnia, dizziness, muscle cramping, rashes, and bowel issues.
Long-term adherence can result in kidney stones and other adverse effects.
See important considerations below, such as potential for nutritional and mineral deficiencies, liver and kidney damage, et cetera.
This diet is contraindicated for those with certain health conditions.
Important considerations: Before beginning the Keto diet, consult with your healthcare provider about any health risks that this diet may incur and if it is right for you. If on a Keto diet, maintain continual collaboration with your healthcare provider and a dietitian to ensure that: specific needed nutrients are met; body chemicals and lab work levels remain within normal limits; as well as your kidney and liver functioning remain optimal while on this restrictive diet.
References and Sources:
Ketogenic Diet, Accessed at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499830/
StatPearls by W. Masood & K. R. Uppaluri, updated 10/27/18.
Ketogenic diet: Is the ultimate low-carb diet good for you? Accessed at https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/ketogenic-diet-is-the-ultimate-low-carb-diet-good-for-you-2017072712089
Harvard Health blog by M. Campos, 7/27/17.
Low-carb diet: Can it help you lose weight? Accessed at https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/low-carb-diet/art-20045831
Mayo Clinic, Healthy Lifestyle, Weight loss by Mayo Clinic Staff, 8/29/17.
Diet Review: Ketogenic Diet for Weight Loss, Accessed at https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-weight/diet-reviews/ketogenic-diet/
The Nutrition Source, Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health n.d.