Why the Keto Diet is a Bad Idea
What is the keto diet? The keto diet is a low carb, high fat diet designed to put your body in a state of ketosis. The theory is that by depriving yourself of carbohydrates (and therefore glucose) this will force your body to use a “different” type of fuel, burning stored fat for energy. This seems like a brilliant idea because what better way to lose weight than by burning up stored fat? However, it is not that simple, entering into a state of ketosis can be difficult because you must eat less than 20-50 grams of carbs and eating too much protein can interfere with ketosis. If you were to achieve a state of ketosis, however, there are many health risks involved with what it takes to get there and what happens in your body when you do.
The pitfalls of keto:
The keto diet is famous for being able to eat as much as you want of the foods that are permitted and that are high in fat. This consists of foods like cheese, butter, heavy cream, and coconut oil all of which are high in saturated fat. We have known for years of the negative health effects of saturated fat, including heart disease and high cholesterol, and it is recommended that we limit our intake to less than 7% of total calories for optimum health.
When you start adding all of this extra fat in your diet, it is not just magically processed, an organ must do the work to metabolize it. Enter the liver. If you have a perfectly functioning liver and you plan on doing the keto diet for only a short period of time this may not be a problem for you. However, prolonged strain on the liver may eventually cause problems such as fatty liver disease, so this is not a diet you would want to follow for an extended period of time. If you already have underlying liver conditions you may make them significantly worse by adding on all of this extra work.
Typically seen in people with diabetes, ketoacidosis is a condition when your body is not producing enough insulin to utilize blood glucose (or not receiving enough glucose) and your blood becomes overloaded with ketones (energy your body creates from stored fat) as they are being used as the primary source of energy. When ketones build up in the bloodstream they make the blood more acidic, causing extreme sickness, fainting, and can result in a diabetic coma. This condition is rare and is mostly seen in those with type 1 diabetes.
This diet is not something that can be followed for a long period of time because of its many health risks and unnatural eating patterns. This leads to the inevitable of following the diet, losing weight, getting off of the diet, returning back to your regular eating patterns, and gaining all of the weight you lost back. Rather than following this fad diet that has detrimental health effects and is simply unsustainable, consider modifying your diet to contain healthier foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. This will create lifelong health and help you maintain a healthy weight.
Any major shifts in diet should always be discussed with your healthcare provider. If you have any questions please reach out to our nutrition counselor.