No nutritional trend has received as much attention lately as the keto diet. The keto diet has proven to be an effective method for weight loss and has also been proven helpful in addressing other medical problems.
The keto diet consists of consuming 70% of your daily caloric intake from fat, 10-15% from protein, and no more than 5-10% of your daily calories coming from carbs, limiting your carbohydrate intake to about 20 grams per day.
While the keto diet has proven to be a successful method for quick weight loss, there is little evidence to support the efficacy and safety of a keto diet long term.
What is ketosis
Ketosis is a natural metabolic state in which the body stops using glucose for energy and starts converting fat into ketones to use for energy. This occurs naturally during starvation, infancy, and pregnancy but can be initiated by depriving the body of glucose by restricting carbohydrates, like the keto diet.
While the ketogenic state is a natural function of the human body, experts disagree on whether or not a high-fat, low-carb diet is beneficial for long periods.
While most people can experience results in as little as 14 days, it is recommended to stay on a strict keto diet for no more than 3 to 6 months.
Benefits of ketosis
The short term results of a ketogenic diet can deliver a plethora of results, delivering benefits such as:
Keto is most widely known for its weight loss benefits. As your body switches from using glucose for energy to using fat, your liver uses ingested forms of fat, as well as stored fat on the body. Converting this stored fat into ketones is an effective way to burn fat quickly.
People with diabetes have long known about the ketogenic diet. Limiting the number of carbohydrates you eat in a day is a great way to limit insulin spikes. The keto diet has been used to manage and even reverse type 1 and type 2 diabetes in recent years.
The classic ketogenic diet has been proven to help control seizures in some people with epilepsy who do not respond to several different seizure medications, and some studies have shown that over half of children who go on the keto diet have at least a 50% reduction in the total number of seizures.
Neurodegeneration and Alzheimer’s
Patients with neurodegeneration like Alzheimer's Disease have found the low-fat, high-carb diet to improve mental function. Reducing the inflammation caused by a high-carb diet through ketosis is beneficial for neurogenesis.
The ketogenic diet has proven to be beneficial for cancer patients. Research shows that the keto diet can assist cancer patients by slowing tumor growth, preventing healthy cells from chemo and radiation treatment, increasing anti-cancer drugs' efficacy, ease inflammation, and prevent weight gain.
Long term keto risks
While the ketogenic diet has proven to be beneficial for short periods of time, it is essential to note that there is not much research studying the long-term benefits. However, some research has proven that risks are associated with enduring ketosis for long periods.
Some of the side effects associated with the keto diet are:
- Constipation- a lack of fiber in your diet can disrupt the digestive system, leading to complicated bowel movements.
- Headaches- because ketosis affects your kidneys, the loss of water and electrolytes can lead to headaches.
- Nausea- especially during the beginning of the diet, ketosis can lead to a deficiency of magnesium and sodium, leading to nausea.
- Fatigue- switching from a carb-based energy system to a fat-based energy system can take a toll on your body. Using energy for the ketogenic process can leave many patients feeling fatigued during the day, even if they haven't exercised.
Some other side effects people have reported while on the ketogenic diet are:
- Nutritional deficiencies
While some of these side effects tend to go away after a few days of a low-carb, high-fat diet, some adverse side effects can persist for the duration of the diet.
When to use keto
While the ketogenic diet may not be sustainable in the long term, it can benefit short-term weight loss goals. Keto is a natural, safe, and effective way to lose fat quickly, without any drugs or surgery.
While it may seem miraculous how well keto works for fat loss, it is crucial to know when to quit the keto diet and incorporate more carbohydrates into your daily caloric intake.
When to stop keto
If you have been on a strict ketogenic diet for some time and notice that you aren't losing any more weight, it may be a good time to stop doing keto.
Once the metabolic process of keto has burned up available stores of fat, then it might be a good time to start incorporating carbohydrates back into your diet.
If you are constantly feeling tired or exhausted all the time, it may be time to quit keto.
The ketogenic process relies on the body's ability to burn ketones instead of glucose for energy, and for some bodies, this transition does not happen smoothly. If you don't have energy on the keto diet, you may want to start incorporating glucose back into your diet.
If you are constipated for long periods of time, it may be time to quit the keto diet.
Fiber is necessary for digestion, and fiber is one of the harder macronutrients to consume while on the keto diet. Constipation can lead to more serious gastrointestinal problems further down the line, so if you are constantly feeling constipated while on the ketogenic diet, it may be a good idea to incorporate more fiber into your diet.
In conclusion, while the keto diet may be beneficial for weight loss, as well as a handful of medical conditions, it is not advisable to be on the keto diet long-term.