You’ve probably heard of the Keto Diet or known someone who’s following it. It has gained popularity in recent years because it can result in quick and sometimes extreme weight loss. But is it safe?
The Ketogenic (Keto) Diet requires a person to eat little-to-no-carbohydrates and instead consume mostly high-fat and protein-rich foods. The purpose of the diet is to change your body’s metabolism so it reaches a state called “ketosis.” This means that instead of your body getting energy from carbohydrates, once in ketosis, your body shifts to burning fats for energy. This can then result in significant weight loss.
However, nutritionists and doctors have cautioned about following this type of diet. Not only is it hard to follow long-term, but it also omits many fruits and vegetables that are necessary for important nutrients. It may also pose cardiac risks, especially for those who already suffer from heart disease or high blood pressure or have other risk factors.
A challenge to follow
While eating a diet full of meat, cheese, and butter may sound appealing to some, the Keto Diet actually requires complex eating plans to get the right amount of proteins, fats, and carbs to put the body into ketosis.
Followers of the diet also develop what’s known as the “keto flu,” which can cause symptoms such as fatigue, insomnia, nausea, constipation, or diarrhea, fogginess, and increased hunger. Symptoms usually start three days to one week after starting the diet and can last up to two weeks or more.
Not enough nutrients
Because the diet restricts carbohydrates to only 2-4 percent of the diet, nutritionists say it’s not sustainable long-term. You will need to take supplements and vitamins since you won’t be getting essential nutrients from foods, and you may also need fiber supplements to keep your digestive system working properly.
Not only are you depriving your body of crucial nutrients found in fruits and vegetables, but (like most people) you may start to crave bread or pasta—then give in to those cravings. As soon as carbohydrates are reintroduced, any weight lost will be quickly regained.
The ketogenic diet is a very restrictive plan that really only provides a temporary, quick fix. Because it’s too difficult to stick to, you would be better off making a lifestyle change by eating a well-balanced diet that incorporates good carbs, such as whole grains, combined with healthy fats and moderate amounts of proteins, with a focus on whole foods and less heavily processed foods. Add in portion control and exercise, and you’ll be on your way to a healthy, long-term weight loss.