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Should You Try the Keto Diet?

These days, there are so many diets out there, it’s hard to know which one is right. Some of the most popular ones include Paleo, Atkins, and South Beach. These are low-carb, high-protein plans. They fall under the umbrella of “ketogenic”- or “keto” for short.

However, a true ketogenic diet is completely different. Most of the other low-carb diet plans focus on protein consumption but a true keto plan focuses on fat. In a true keto plan, fat supplies up to 90% of your daily caloric intake. This is not the type of diet plan that you should experiment with.

According to the experts, the keto diet is used to decrease epileptic seizures in children and, while many people have tried using it for weight loss, only the short-term results have been analyzed and results are mixed. At this time, we’re not sure if it’s a good long-term weight loss solution or if it’s even safe.

How Does it Work?

The basics of keto are as follows:

This diet plan forces your body to use a different source of fuel for energy. Instead of depending on sugar, or glucose, from carbohydrates (for example, fruits, veggies, legumes, and grains)- the keto diet is dependent on ketone bodies, which is a form of energy produced by the liver from stored fat.

While it seems like burning fat is a great way to lose pounds, getting the liver to produce ketone bodies can be a bit on the tricky side.

  • You must deprive yourself of carbs- less than 20 to 50 grams per day. It’s important to note that a medium-size banana is approximately 27 grams of carbs
  • It will take your body a few days to reach a state of ketosis
  • If you consume too much protein, it can interfere with ketosis

What Do You Eat on Keto?

Due to the fact that keto requires you to consume high amounts of fat, you must incorporate fat into each meal. If you are sticking to a 2,000 calorie diet, you’ll need around 165 grams of fat, 75 grams of protein, and 40 grams of carbs. That being said, your exact ratio will depend upon your needs.

Keto does allow for some unsaturated fats, such as olive oil, almonds, avocado, seeds, walnuts, and tofu. However, you are encouraged to consume high amounts of saturated fats, such as cocoa butter, palm oil, butter, coconut oil, and lard in high amounts.

Protein is also part of the traditional keto diet, but typically it does not discriminate between lean proteins versus proteins that are high in saturated fats such as bacon, beef, and pork.

When it comes to fruits and veggies on the keto diet, it’s important to understand that all fruits are high in carbs- but you can have certain fruits, such as berries, in small portions. For veggies, you’re limited to leafy greens such as spinach, kale, or Swiss chard, asparagus, summer squashes, bell peppers, cauliflower, mushrooms, Brussels sprouts, onion broccoli, celery, and garlic. It’s important to note that a cup of chopped broccoli typically contains approximately 6 carbs.

Risks Associated with Keto Diet

Now that you know more about how the keto diet works and what you can eat on it, you should know that there are numerous risks associated with this diet plan.

First of all, it is high in saturated fats. According to the experts, saturated fats should only comprise about 7% of your daily caloric intake because it’s linked to heart disease. In addition, the keto diet has also been proven to increase “bad” LDL cholesterol, which is also associated with heart disease.

Some of the other risks associated with the keto diet include:

Nutrient deficiency

If you are not consuming a variety of fruits, veggies, and grains, you may be at an increased risk of micronutrients including vitamin B, selenium, vitamin C, phosphorous, and magnesium.

Liver Issues

Since the keto diet includes so much fat, it requires the liver to work harder, which can cause existing liver issues to worsen.

Kidney Issues

Your kidneys also help metabolize protein, and the keto diet may cause them to be overloaded. Ideally, the average woman should be getting approximately 46 grams daily and men should be getting approximately 56 grams of protein.

Constipation

Since the keto diet is low in fibrous foods such as legumes and grains, it can cause you to become constipated.

Fuzzy thinking/mood swings

In order to function properly, your brain needs sugar from healthy carbs. Therefore, a low carb diet may cause you to be irritable and confused.

As you can see, there are several risks associated with the keto diet- which means unless it is prescribed by a doctor, you may not want to experiment with it. After all, your health is not something you want to mess around with.

What about other “keto” diets?

Some of the popular low-carb diet plans such as Paleo or Atkins are a modification of a true keto diet. However, if you overdo it with fats and proteins and avoid carbs, these diets come with the same risks.

If this is the case, why do so many people follow them? There is information all over the place regarding these diets and anecdotally, they are effective. The theories related to short-term success of low-carb diets include decreased appetite due to the fact that fat burns slower than carbs.

However, once again, there’s not much information related to these diets over the long term. One thing that is clear though is that eating a restricted diet can be difficult to maintain. Once you go back to eating like you did before the diet, the weight will likely come back.

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References

American Heart Association. “Saturated Fat.” Www.heart.org, 2021, www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/fats/saturated-fats.

“B-Complex Vitamins: Benefits, Side Effects and Dosage.” Healthline, 2018, www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-b-complex.

BD Editors. “Ketone Bodies.” Biology Dictionary, 27 Feb. 2018, biologydictionary.net/ketone-bodies/.

Campos, Marcelo. “Ketogenic Diet: Is the Ultimate Low-Carb Diet Good for You? – Harvard Health Blog.” Harvard Health Blog, 6 July 2018, www.health.harvard.edu/blog/ketogenic-diet-is-the-ultimate-low-carb-diet-good-for-you-2017072712089.

Franziska Spritzler, RD, CDE. “South Beach Diet Review and Beginner’s Guide.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 12 Mar. 2017, www.healthline.com/nutrition/south-beach-diet.

Gunnars, Kris. “The Atkins Diet: Everything You Need to Know.” Healthline, 2018, www.healthline.com/nutrition/atkins-diet-101.

Hoffman, Matthew. “LDL: The “Bad” Cholesterol.” WebMD, WebMD, 3 Nov. 2008, www.webmd.com/heart-disease/ldl-cholesterol-the-bad-cholesterol.

https://www.facebook.com/verywell. “Which Cholesterol-Friendly Foods Are High in Unsaturated Fat?” Verywell Health, 2019, www.verywellhealth.com/foods-that-are-high-in-unsaturated-fats-697736.

Mawer, Rudy. “The Ketogenic Diet: A Detailed Beginner’s Guide to Keto.” Healthline, 22 Oct. 2020, www.healthline.com/nutrition/ketogenic-diet-101.

Mayo Clinic. “Epilepsy – Symptoms and Causes.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Clinic, 2019, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/epilepsy/symptoms-causes/syc-20350093.

—. “Heart Disease – Symptoms and Causes.” Mayo Clinic, 9 Feb. 2021, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20353118.

Mayo Clinic Staff. “Choose Your Carbs Wisely.” Mayo Clinic, 2017, www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/carbohydrates/art-20045705.

—. “Paleo Diet: Eat like a Cave Man and Lose Weight?” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 25 Aug. 2020, www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/paleo-diet/art-20111182.

—. “Vitamin C.” Mayo Clinic, 17 Nov. 2017, www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-vitamin-c/art-20363932.

National Institutes of Health. “Office of Dietary Supplements – Phosphorus.” Nih.gov, 2017, ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Phosphorus-HealthProfessional/.

Palsdottir, Hrefna. “What Is Ketosis, and Is It Healthy?” Healthline, 2017, www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-is-ketosis.

“Selenium.” WebMD, 6 Aug. 2018, www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/supplement-guide-selenium.

Streit, Lizzie. “Micronutrients: Types, Functions, Benefits and More.” Healthline, 27 Sept. 2018, www.healthline.com/nutrition/micronutrients.

WebMD. “Magnesium: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Dosage, and Warning.” Webmd.com, 2011, www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-998/magnesium.

“What Is Glucose?” Levels, 18 Feb. 2021, www.levelshealth.com/blog/what-is-glucose.

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