The Truth Behind The Keto Diet

Well, everything new is well forgotten old, but nowadays our health system is much better studied then in the years of 70s or even in the 90s. Let’s see what Keto/South Beach/Atkins Diet mean and why should we be careful before making a decision.

Let’s take a look:

The recommendation for the Ketogenic Diet is that you should consume only about 5-10% of your daily calories from carbohydrates, 70% of your calories from fats, and the remaining 20-25% from protein. By way of comparison, the dietary recommendations from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) are 45-65% of daily calories from carbohydrate, 20-35% from fat, and 10-35% from protein. The IOM recommendations are backed by groups like the American Heart AssociationAmerican Cancer SocietyAmerican Diabetes Association, the Surgeon General’s Office, and the overwhelming majority of Registered Dietitians.

Difficult to Sustain

Because of the stringent food restrictions, many find the keto diet hard to stick to.

“The ketogenic diet can be effective for weight loss when used in a short time period followed by the adoption of healthier eating habits,” says Cardiologist Kameswari Maganti, MD,Northwestern Medicine Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute. “Unfortunately, it lends itself to yo-yo dieting, which increases mortality.
Ketosis is difficult to achieve because it’s like a light switch: either on or off. Individuals who consistently track food intake are more likely to remain in ketosis. But the only way to tell if your body is in ketosis is a blood test.

“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.

Due to these deficiencies, people also report feeling foggy and tired. These symptoms have been dubbed “the keto flu.” Constipation is also common on the keto diet due to the lack of fiber.

Risks of the keto diet

Staying on the Keto diet in the long term may have some negative effects Trusted Source, including risks of the following:

  • low protein in the blood
  • extra fat in the liver
  • kidney stones
  • micro-nutrient deficiencies

A type of medication called sodium-glucose co-transporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors for type 2 diabetes can increase the risk for diabetic ketoacidosis, a dangerous condition that increases blood acidity. Anyone taking this medication should avoid the keto diet (40Trusted Source, 41Trusted Source).

More research is being done to determine the safety of the keto diet in the long term. Keep your doctor informed of your eating plan to guide your choices.

As the cooperinstitute says:

“For most people, the perceived ‘pros’ of the Ketogenic Diet are outweighed by the following ‘cons.’ 

  • Lack of variety. So many foods are limited with this approach that you will likely soon tire of eating the same things over and over again.
  • Lack of fiber. Complex carbohydrates are the only source of dietary fiber! Since carbohydrate intake is very limited with the Ketogenic diet, you will be consuming a very low fiber diet by default. Low fiber diets are strongly associated with an increased risk of constipation, hemorrhoids, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and digestive cancers. Think about that for a moment (or two).
  • Lack of essential nutrients. Ketogenic diets are notoriously low in several essential nutrients including vitamins C and D, as well as some of the B vitamins. Calcium is also lacking. Most Ketogenic diet enthusiasts remain unaware that complex carbohydrates contain hundreds of beneficial substances called phytochemicals; which are naturally occurring non-nutrients that help to prevent disease.
  • Not a long-term solution. The weight loss from the Ketogenic approach is typically temporary, not permanent. When you change your eating habits short-term, your weight will also change short-term. The goal should not be short-term weight loss, but rather, long-term weight control.
  • Fatigue and irritability. A Ketogenic diet increases the likelihood of hypoglycemia (low blood glucose levels) and can trigger what is known as the keto-flu. Symptoms may include headaches, fatigue, irritability and more unpleasant symptoms.
  • Inability to perform regular sustained exercise. Carbohydrate is a major fuel source for muscles during exercise. When carbohydrate stores are low and/or hypoglycemia is present, it’s very difficult to exercise. Diet plus regular exercise is far more effective for long-term weight control than either one by itself. “

Keto isn’t the only way to lose weight or change your life, obviously. Dietitians say it is not essential to cut back on as many foods, since a moderate low-carb diet may still hold benefits for diabetes or weight loss.

One thing is certain: Any meaningful change starts with behavior. Are you at a right point to make a change in your life? Dr. Yancy suggests asking friends and family to support you, confer with a doctor, incorporate physical activity and begin to think of it not as a temporary measure but more of a lifestyle change.

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