It seems like everyone has an opinion on diet and health. Fats are either saints or devils depending on who’s asked; protein is crucial, but we may be getting too much of it. In this slough of confusing and contradictory information rests the low-carb diet, insisting that shedding carbohydrates (often contained in things like grains, fruits, and certain dairy products) is the solution to weight loss dieters crave. However, with limited research and questions of sustainability and maintenance, are diets like keto really king?
Keto is one of the most popular diets today, earning over one million searches on Google each month – but it is also one of the strictest. The goal is to make one’s body enter ketosis, or the process of burning fat for energy in place of sugars. Once ketosis begins, weight loss results should be evident fairly quickly. The weight will be lost from water loss and carbs in the liver; plus, the amount of fats being consumed (about 75 to 80 percent of your diet) means that people on diet will likely feel less hungry throughout the day.
However, keto is far from a perfect plan, and the toll it takes on the body may be too much to bare. Keto requires cutting out most whole fruits, grains and milk and limiting the intake of foods like vegetables. This can easily lead to mineral and vitamin deficiencies, such as a lack of potassium, which is commonly found in grains, legumes, milk and vegetables that are restricted on keto. This could mean either living with a deficiency – which could have both short- and long-term consequences on personal health – or starting to take supplements, which’ll raise the costs of trying to live healthy quickly.
There are also several questions as to the sustainability of the keto diet. While short-term weight loss has been seen by those who’ve used the keto diet, there is no long-term research to show if these results can be sustained. And reintroducing carbohydrates back into the diet after achieving the desired results may result in gaining some to most of the weight back, putting the dieters back at square one. As is, dietitians don’t recommend remaining on the keto diet for longer than 90 days – it may just not be healthy or possible to keep it up.
Keto can also combine disastrously with several medical conditions. People with diabetes, for example, might experience a potentially deadly drop in blood sugar levels. Additionally, keto could have serious consequences for those who previously had an eating disorder or those with an increased risk for heart disease.
This is not to say that the diet is completely merit. The diet was originally discovered and used as a treatment for epilepsy, where it’s proven to be fairly effective as treatment, and more research is going into discovering how it might help with other conditions, such as Parkinson’s. And those who participate will lose the weight, though for how long is up for debate. The truth is that nutrition is a relatively young science, and, as a young science, there are more questions than answers. Keto can be safe and possible for anyone interested but should involve consultation with a doctor or a nutritionist to see if it’ll actually meet your needs. Just don’t pretend keto is the miracle weight loss cure you’ve been looking for, and don’t neglect your health in the name of it, either.