Ketogenic Diet: Healthy Diet or Health Concern?

2018 has given rise to many new diets and trends, but none have taken off quite like the ketogenic diet. Like most popular diets, keto does have its foundation in scientific resource. Our body’s preferred source of energy is glucose, which is derived from sugar in the carbohydrates we eat. Removing carbs from our diet, forces our bodies to make a substitute energy from breaking down fat stores, called ketones. Research found that people who suffer from epilepsy (seizure disorder), especially children, had a decrease in their seizures when in a state of ketosis. The ketogenic diet became a medically recommended diet in this population.

In recent times, the keto has become a weight loss diet, efficient at burning body fat. Typically, keto means eating about 75% of your calories a day from fat, and less than 5% of your calories from carbohydrates. This extreme low-carb composition nixes even the healthiest of carbs including fruit and starchy veggies like sweet potatoes, winter squash and beans.

Pros & Cons of Keto:

Just like most low-carb diets, keto tends to be very efficient at immediate weight loss. Generally, it’s the carbs in our diets that we’re overeating on, so removing them helps us the wean off of the added sugars and large carb portion sizes.

The challenge with keto is two-fold. My initial concern as a dietitian is the exceptionally high fat intake. When people are on a keto diet for medical reasons, they are closely monitored by their doctors and have their blood work monitored. Eating such a high-fat diet can increase cholesterol & LDL cholesterol levels, which is concerning in the long-term

Speaking of long-term, the other concern of following keto and the resulting weight-loss is sustainability. Research shows that weight lost in the long run from low carb versus regular carb diets is comparable. Low carb diets like keto can be a great way initially to help wean off sugars and excess carb intake, but it may be beneficial to consider making adjustments to find a less restrictive meal plan. Working with your dietitian can help you find a balanced approach that works for you and your lifestyle.

By: Stefanie Mendez, MS RD CDN

Nick VanMeter