Updated: Aug 21, 2021
So, you have probably heard about the Ketogenic Diet (Keto Diet) at this point. Let’s face it- I can almost guarantee that you (or a friend or family member) have given it a shot for weight loss too. But how much do you KNOW about the diet? It isn’t just about taking the bread off your sandwiches- there’s so much more to it!
What is the Keto Diet?
Let’s start with the basics. The ketogenic diet was developed in 1921 by Dr. Wilder, following a report by other scientists about the value of fasting and prevention of seizures in epileptic patients1. Dr. Wilder suggested a diet high in fat, and low in carbs- putting the patients in “ketosis” or forcing the body to use its fat stores as an energy source 2. Hence, the “Ketogenic Diet”. So, we can see why it's marketed today as a great way to burn fat!
Advantages of the Keto Diet
What are some advantages to the Keto Diet? Quick weight loss is number one! Since the body is now using its fat stores as a primary source of energy, fat is burned quicker than it normally would because there is no carbohydrate to be used as an energy source. Also, the high-fat content of the meals makes you feel full while eating fewer calories 3. Sounds too good to be true, right?
Disadvantages of the Keto Diet
Okay, now time to get real. What are some potential consequences of following the Keto Diet? When first starting the diet, you might become subject to the “Keto Flu”- fatigue, headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, constipation, and low exercise tolerance 4. Long-term side effects include fatty liver disease, kidney stones, vitamin deficiency, and increased risk of heart disease 5. It can also be hard to follow that many restrictions for a long time!
Diabetes and the Keto Diet
Chances are if you have diabetes- you have heard the term “ketosis” before, and not in a positive light. People with diabetes are susceptible to Diabetes Ketoacidosis (DKA) since their body cannot properly absorb energy from Carbs due to decreased insulin production. When they have elevated levels of blood sugars for a while, this could cause them to go into DKA. While there is evidence of people with Type 2 diabetes improving glycemic control with the Keto Diet 6. Always make sure you speak to your healthcare provider before trying any diet! Your diabetes medications may need to be adjusted and your blood sugar might need to be monitored more closely.
The Keto Diet definitely has some great advantages, but also some potentially serious side effects. Speaking with an RDN or a CDCES can help guide you to decide if the Keto Diet is right for you or assist you in making the best food choice that this diet entails. Remember, there is maybe another way to lose weight that is healthier that you haven’t thought of yet too! Everyone is different and RDNs are educated in tailoring weight loss plans for each individual person. So, make sure you reach out before you jump in!