Should I go keto? Here’s what to expect with this diet
The ketogenic diet has been around for a long time, just recently becoming quite popular as a weight loss approach. Historically, it has been used as a last ditch attempt to stop seizures in children. For reasons unknown, it can help control seizures in children with epilepsy. It was quickly realized that one of the side effects in these children was dramatic weight loss. Aha! Why not promote it as a weight loss diet for adults who actually need weight loss.
The ketogenic diet is an extremely restrictive diet that results in a state of ketosis that causes the body to burn fat for energy. The percentage of calories is roughly 75% fat, 20% protein, and only 5% carbohydrate. It is a far cry from a balanced diet that would aim for 20-30% fat, 20-25% protein and 45-60% carbohydrate intake.
The keto diet explained: 5 Facts you need to know before starting this diet
1. The keto diet took last place in best diets for healthy eating.
The 2020 US News & World Report ranked keto diet last place in best diets for healthy eating and second to last place for best diets overall. The experts who rank the diets for US News & World Report, stated ” This diet is at odds with all we know about long term health benefits of a high fiber, low saturated fat diet.” It did tie for third place for best fast weight loss diet. Experts advise to not follow this diet long-term but the safe length of time has not been clearly defined in the literature.
2. You can have bad breath and perhaps body odor.
Ketones are the by-products of ketosis metabolism. Ketones have a funky smell that is similar to nail polish remover. It is not a pleasant smell and can be offensive in social settings. Some people have also reported unpleasant body odor when in ketosis.
3. You may be at risk for nutrient deficiencies.
Because you are not eating a wide variety of grains, fruits, and vegetables, the keto diet is lacking in key nutrients. Your intake will likely be low in calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, selenium, Vitamins A, B complex, C, D, and fiber. This makes it critical that you should not follow it long-term. The limited and lacking quality studies do not define how long you can safely go on a keto diet. You can take a daily multivitamin-mineral supplement but you cannot replace the lack of antioxidants, probiotics, and other naturally-occurring plant substances that benefit our health. This could also potentially disrupt the health of your gut.
To make the keto diet as nutritious as possible, include plant-based proteins such as tempeh and tofu, and other nutritious options such as fatty fish, avocadoes, mushrooms, leafy greens, cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini, nuts,seeds and olive oil.
4. It is extremely restrictive in carbs.
Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred energy source. Some people report initial lower energy levels and then later improved energy levels after going into ketosis. One study reported decreased maximum physical performance on the keto diet. Carbs are also important for brain health, being the primary fuel source for the brain. It may also become monotonous to miss out on crunchy, satisfying carb-rich foods like fruits, vegetables and grains.
5. There may be a tough transition back to balanced eating.
After being on a restrictive diet, it can be difficult to switch gears to more balanced eating. In fact, many proponents of the keto diet advise people to follow it intermittently. The intermittent plan can be both confusing and disruptive to remember which eating style you are following and could impact the rest of the family’s meal planning.
It is important to do your homework before going on any diet plan. I hope these facts about the keto diet help you to become aware of the implications. If you do find it is the plan that works for you for weight loss, only follow it short term and make sure you are being monitored closely by your healthcare provider. You can also work with a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) to give you personalized guidance on a keto diet meal plan that fits with your unique health issues and concerns.
Please feel free to share your personal experience with the keto diet.