The Ketogenic diet has become a hot trend in the health and fitness world lately.
Some studies suggest that it helps people lose weight and has some health benefits like protecting the brain and controlling seizures in children with epilepsy. But for an average person who wants to be healthy, feel good, and shed some excess pounds, it seems like it might be downright dangerous.
So What is the Ketogenic diet?
The Ketogenic, (aka Keto), diet is a low-carb, low-protein and high-fat diet, where the body produces ketones in the liver to be used as energy.
The goal of this diet is to get into a state of ketosis, which means almost zero carbs and very low protein needs to be consumed, getting about 70-90% of your calories from fat. In order to be in ketosis, your blood ketone levels should be at least 0.5mmol/L.
The biggest problem with Keto
The problem with this diet is that if you don’t get it perfectly right, it’s probably the worst diet you could ever follow.
Even if you’re super strict and meticulous about watching what you eat, you could accidentally consume some carbs, (e.g. eat some hidden sugar in your condiments or underestimate the carb amount in the veggies you eat), and then you’re out of ketosis immediately. Then all this dietary fat in your system, combined with carbs, which gets converted into glucose in your body, creates a cascade of problems that increase the risk of heart disease and leads to metabolic syndrome and obesity.
Some people argue that fat is the culprit to all health problems, while others claim it’s the sugar. Whereas, in fact, it’s the combination of the two that is so detrimental to our health.
Furthermore, if you lose your willpower, which is very common on such restrictive diets, and suddenly find yourself eating pizza, cake or some other carbohydrate-rich food, you’re doing tremendous damage to your body. When the glucose enters your bloodstream, all this fat circulating in your system can no longer be used for energy and thus gets stored as fat. That’s why we often hear about people who gain even more weight after following the Atkins diet or very similar low-carb diets.
So the biggest danger of following the Ketogenic diet is that it’s a very binary thing: you’re either in ketosis or not. And if you’re not in ketosis but consume large amounts of fat, you’re risking heart disease, weight gain, and eventually type-2 diabetes.
Other dangers of this diet
Eliminating an entire food group, like fruits and most vegetables, may lead to dangerous nutrient deficiencies.
Moreover, insufficient carbohydrate intake leads to glycogen exhaustion in the muscles, which impairs physical performance. Also, excess fat intake may be taxing on the liver.
Most importantly, this diet is not sustainable. Clinical reviews point out that most people who lose weight on very low-carb diets, seem to gain it all back. Most of the weight loss is water weight anyway.
All things considered, the Ketogenic diet is a very strict diet. You have to do everything right and then make sure that your body responds to it appropriately. Even a small mishap or your body’s inability to adapt quickly might lead to health problems.
It’s very tempting to do something extreme for quick dramatic results, but the truth is, in order to achieve optimum health and body weight, we need to focus on the long-term lifestyle changes.
And if you’re still thinking of trying the Ketogenic diet, then definitely consult your doctor. It’s something you should always do before making a change in your lifestyle.