Is Ketogenic Diet Safe and Effective?

Five Things to Consider Before Going Ketogenic

Finding the right nutritional diet in a world inundated by fad diets can be overwhelming. Fad diets seem to appear and disappear at an alarming rate.  One diet in particular is gaining a lot of attention throughout the wellness community. The ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet that promises to improve not just your body, but your mind as well.  The ketogenic diet, famously used to cure symptoms of epilepsy, has been shown to improve brain function, boost energy, and effectively turn your body into a fat burning “machine”. The health benefits of switching to a ketogenic lifestyle are rumored to be astronomical, ranging from ameliorating symptoms of type II diabetes to helping with Alzheimer’s disease, and even reports of using this diet as a cancer treatment.  So how does the ketogenic diet work, and is it right for you?

Is the Keto Diet Safe? 

THE CLAIM

What makes the ketogenic diet work are small fuel molecules called ketones that are produced when you eat very few carbs.  Carbohydrates are the body’s go-to source of fuel as they are quickly broken down into blood sugar. When you restrict carb intake, the body switches its fuel source from carbs to fat.   Ketones are an alternative fuel source for the body, used when blood sugar (glucose) is in short supply. The liver is able to create ketones from fat, and those ketones are used as fuel for the entire body, especially the brain.  

While on a ketogenic diet, your body enters a what is called ketosis, which means it switches to using fat as it’s fuel source and fat burn increases dramatically.  This not only results in weight loss but also a decrease in appetite and steadier energy levels as your body becomes less reliant on carbohydrates for fuel. Your body essentially turns into a fat burning machine.

DOES THE KETOGENIC DIET WORK?

While in theory the ketogenic diet seems incredibly promising, in practice it is more complicated.  Here are some things that can cause the ketogenic diet to not be effective, or even worse, to be damaging to a person’s health.

  1. EXTREME DIET

The ketogenic diet is a very strict diet and requires complete commitment, as consuming too many carbs can take you out of ketosis.  Even the slightest slip up can result in jeopardizing the production of ketones, By its very nature, the ketogenic diet is incredibly restrictive and the likelihood of failure is higher.  Extreme diets have very high percentages of failure, as the sudden drastic changes in lifestyle are oftentimes not sustainable and very difficult to commit to.

  1. PROTEIN AND MUSCLE MASS

The ketogenic diet sets strict restrictions on how much protein can be consumed, and that leads to difficulties in producing more muscle mass and can potentially lead to a decrease in muscle mass.  Protein intake is necessary to maintain and develop muscle, this makes the diet not ideal for anyone who is attempting to increase muscle mass, and may not suitable for athletes.

  1. VITAMIN AND NUTRIENT DEFICIENCIES

Because of its restrictive nature, participants on the ketogenic diet may experience nutrient deficiencies.  Nearly all fruit and many vegetables are restricted while on the ketogenic diet, as many fruit contains high sugar content.  There are many nutrients, such as B and C vitamins that are received from the consumption of fruit, and depriving the body of so many specific fruit and vegetables can send the body into vitamin deficiency.  When the body lacks proper nutrients, a person can experience various health issues, among them fatigue and strong cravings that may lead to failure of the diet.

 

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