From celebrities and lifestyle influencers to your friends and coworkers, it seems everyone is raving about the keto diet. But while some are praising the latest eating style, others warn it may be detrimental to your health. With so many conflicting – and often contradictory – fad diets, how do you know if the keto diet is safe for you?
What is the Keto Diet?
The keto diet takes “cutting carbs” to a whole new level. Of a 2,000 calorie per day diet, only 5 to 10% – approximately 40 grams – consists of carbs. For perspective, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that carbohydrates make up 45 to 65% of your total daily calories.
Instead of carbs, the keto diet loads up on fats. Approximately 70 to 80% of the day’s calories are allocated to high-fat foods, while remaining calories are earmarked for protein. Getting most of your calories from fat forces your body to use different energy pathways, entering a state called ketosis. Instead of carbs for energy, the body burns fat.
Is Keto Dangerous?
According to Dr. Gianfranco Cappello, creator of the keto diet, those who are significantly overweight or obese can benefit considerably from going keto. In his study, more than 19,000 dieters experienced significant, rapid weight loss, and most kept the weight off after a year. Keto has also been used to help ease the symptoms of children with epilepsy, and to improve insulin sensitivity for those with Type 2 diabetes.
However, while the keto diet may be recommended for some people, the high-fat content paired with limits on nutrient-rich foods is a concern for long-term health. A limit on carbs also limits which fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can be consumed. This unbalanced diet depletes glucose levels, forcing the body to use what’s stored in the liver and muscles instead.
Side Effects of Going Keto
When your body runs out of glucose to burn for energy, the transition to burning fat can cause “keto flu.” In addition to fatigue, this can cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and lethargy the first few weeks of going keto.
The keto diet can also force the body to enter ketoacidosis: a stage in which the blood becomes too acidic, damaging the liver, kidneys, and brain. Likewise, an influx of fat-rich foods also raises the possibility of high cholesterol, increasing the risk of heart disease and diabetes in otherwise healthy people.
Other side effects of going keto include:
- Reduced athletic performance
- Less muscle mass
- Decreased metabolism
- Dry mouth
- Frequent urination
- Bad breath
- Weight regain
A Word from GR8NESS
The verdict is still out on whether or not the keto diet can be considered “safe” for everyone. While cutting back on unhealthy carbs and sugars can be beneficial, nearly eliminating carbohydrates as a food group in your diet can have unforeseen long-term effects. Before making any drastic diet changes, consult with your doctor. No fad diet is worth risking your health.