Why Should I Not Go On Keto?
Among the many fad diets out there, the keto diet has made one of the strongest impressions among people all around the world. Many of whom swear by the diet for the weight loss results they have experienced. However, there have only been short-term studies performed on the diet in regards to weight loss and the results are mixed. When looking at evidence and wanting to apply it to yourself, it’s important to look at large-scale studies and many more all with similar results. There are also significant and harmful downsides to following this restrictive diet patter. The biggest of all harmful effects, it cuts out nutrient-dense food sources. Let’s first look at the history of the keto diet and understand it’s purpose.
Why Was The Keto Diet Developed?
The keto diet’s name is actually a bit longer – its formal name is the ketogenic diet. This diet was developed as a nutrition tool to reduce the frequency of epileptic seizures in children. Specifically, in children who were unresponsive to medications to help control their epileptic seizures. The ketogenic diet is beneficial in this scenario because it requires the main energy source from the diet to consist of fat, about 90% of daily calories deriving from fat. This requires the reliance on ketone bodies for fuel, which is produced by the liver from stored fat.
Why Is Ketosis Not Ideal?
The state of ketosis is rather hard to achieve, because our bodies want to use glucose (a carbohydrate) for energy. That is the main role of carbohydrates even, to be used as energy. In order for the liver to make ketone bodies and reach a state of ketosis, it requires that you eliminate carbohydrates almost completely, less than 20-25 grams per day. For reference, a medium-sized banana has 27 grams of carbohydrates. It can take several days to reach a state of ketosis following these strict guidelines. Another impacting factor is that eating too much protein can interfere with ketosis.
What Are The Risks To The Keto Diet?
Increased LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol). This is because the ketogenic diet is high in saturated fat to reach that ketosis state. It is recommended to limit saturated fat intake to no more than 7% of daily caloric intake due to the link with heart disease
Nutrient deficiency. This diet is so heavily restrictive that it eliminates key nutrients that are important for various bodily functions. Several nutrients that a keto-diet follower may be deficient in include selenium, magnesium, phosphorus, Vitamin C, and multiple B Vitamins.
Liver insufficiency. Because so much stress is put on the liver to metabolize such high amounts of fat, the diet could easily make any existing liver conditions worse or may develop in liver insufficiency.
Renal issues. One of the kidney’s roles is to metabolize protein. The keto diet may overload the kidneys.
Constipation. The keto diet is very low in fiber sources like whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. Such small amounts are allowed due to their carbohydrate intake that the fiber amount is very minimal.
Confusion and irritability. The brain’s primary energy source is glucose – it cannot use anything else for energy. With not enough energy, keto diet followers experience mood swings and confusion.
The Bottom Line
The ketogenic diet was developed for one specific reason and it should stay that way. There is insufficient evidence that the heavily restrictive diet pattern results in sustainable long-term weight loss. Always stay away from any diet that requires you to eliminate sources of nutrient-rich foods that are great for you.
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