Keto Diet: The Good, The Bad & The Bottom Line

Posted by Renee Chan on

Image by: Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

If you haven’t been living under a rock lately, you’ve probably heard of the miraculous results people are having with the Keto Diet. But that’s just on the surface. We’re going to look deeper to see if it’ll work for everyone. 
Let’s break it down:
What is Keto?
The Keto Diet is a method that consists of ingesting lower carbohydrates (usually less than 50g/day) and higher fats (about 75% of caloric intake) (2). 
Carbs are used to power our bodies throughout the day and this is where Keto flips that thought on its head. Using fat as the primary source of energy instead of carbohydrates, eating Keto has been a dietary treatment for patients with epilepsy, obesity, and Type 2 Diabetes. In some research, it’s shown to have potential benefits for neurological disorders such as migraine headaches and Alzheimer’s disease (3). 
Though most patients who have switched to Keto help them cope with epilepsy and obesity, it’s really gained traction because of the rapid and dramatic weight loss in pop culture. 
The Good...
Keto can be an effective practice in short-term weight loss as compared to a low-fat diet in overweight women and men (6), as well as provide an improved lifestyle for people dealing with obesity and Type 2 Diabetes (2). And people who deal with epilepsy switched to a Keto Diet noticed an increase in arousal, mood, energy, and concentration (3). Because of the excessive consumption of fat in the diet, people are more likely to feel full and their perception of hunger is reduced even with the same calorie intake as other diets(2,6). 
Keto is not only able to induce weight loss but it also has the potential effect in reducing fat mass in some studies (2,6). There are tons of blogs and videos proposing how Keto is a quick and efficient way to lose weight without risk. 
But doesn’t that sound too good to be true? 
The Bad...
Yes, Keto can induce rapid and dramatic weight loss but it comes with some adverse effects and may not be suitable for everyone. Since it pretty much eliminates carbohydrates from each meal, there are some symptoms that people are prone to experience:
-Keto Flu: a commonly experienced body response when on a low-carb diet resulting in constipation, fatigue, nausea, and dizziness (1)
-Chest pains
-High-fat composition is worrisome and been found to cause significant increase in LDL (the ‘bad’ cholesterol) (5) 
-Weight loss using Keto has also not been proven to be sustainable against other diets (4)
Sure, rapid weight loss sounds ideal for some people but the mechanism of how Keto results in weight reduction is still unclear (2). Of course, studies claiming that Keto is beneficial and useful are generally based on overweight or obese subjects and only monitored for a short period of time. 

...And The Bottom Line
All that to say, Keto could be a beneficial and effective dietary treatment for people with epilepsy, obesity, and Type 2 Diabetes alongside receiving guidance from health professionals. Up until now, there’s still not enough research to conclude that Keto is harmless and safe to follow in the long-term for any healthy person. Before you decide to go on the diet, you should always reach out to a registered dietitian or your family physician as risks vary between individuals. 
As always, if you’re interested in discussing the option of going Keto for health purposes, reach out to True NOSH and we’ll connect you with a registered dietitian. 
Written by: Gigi Liang
Edited by: Evelyn Wong

References

  1. Bostock ECS, Kirkby KC, Taylor BV, Hawrelak JA. Consumer Reports of “Keto Flu” Associated With the Ketogenic Diet. Frontiers in Nutrition, 2020; 7: 20-25. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2020.00020
  2. Kosinski C, Jornayvaz FR. Effects of Ketogenic Diets on Cardiovascular Risk Factors: Evidence from Animal and Human Studies. Nutrients. 2017; 9(5): 517- 532. doi: 10.3390/nu9050517
  3. McDonald TJW, Cervenka MC. Ketogenic Diets for Adult Neurological Disorders. Neurotherapeutics. 2018; 15(4): 1081-1031. doi: 10.1007/s13311-018-0666-8
  4. O’Neill B, Raggi P. The Ketogenic Diet: Pros and Cons. Atherosclerosis. 2020; 292: 119-126. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2019.11.021
  5. Retterstøl K, Svendsen M, Narverud I, Holven KB. Effect of low carbohydrate high fat diet on LDL cholesterol and gene expression in normal-weight, young adults: A randomized controlled study. Atherosclerosis. 2018; 279: 52-61. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2018.10.013
  6. Volek JS, Sharman MJ, Gómez AL, Judelson DA, Rubin MR, Watson G, Sokemen B, Silvestre R, French DN, Kraemer WJ. Comparison of energy-restricted very low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets on weight loss and body composition in overweight men and women. Nutrition & Metabolism. 2004; 1(1): 13-13. doi: 10.1186/1743-7075-1-13

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