By: Irene Cohen
The ketogenic diet, or keto for short, is a diet that focuses on extremely low carbohydrates with high fat content and protein in their foods. The idea of using this diet in order to lose weight is that the low carbohydrate intake and high fat intake forces the body to go into ketosis and burn fat instead of carbs. This, theoretically, results in burning body fat for energy and subsequently losing weight.
The ketogenic diet was developed in the 1920s by physicians from the Mayo Clinic. It was developed as a means to help treat epilepsy, as it mimics fasting metabolically. Fasting has been used as a treatment for epilepsy for over one thousand years, and this new diet provided a more accessible and healthy way to mimic fasting while avoiding most of the negative side effects. This diet was a very popular method of treating epilepsy until antiepileptic medication was developed. The mystery of why this diet works for treating epilepsy is still unsolved.
The keto diet requires you to eat 80-90% of your daily caloric intake from fat, with less than 100g of protein and 10-15 grams of carbohydrates. This forces your body to go into “starvation mode”, or ketosis, where instead of using glucose as an energy source, it breaks down fat stores into ketones in the absence of sugars.
What most people experience as fat loss due to the keto diet is usually just a calorie deficit, according to experts. Tracking your macronutrients and calories makes you more conscious of your food intake, which in turn makes someone more likely to lower their intakes as a reaction to this awareness.
This diet is also incredibly hard to follow, and many people end up not even going into ketosis, instead just having a high fat diet while still having enough carbs to break them down as usual.
The ketogenic diet can even have consequences for those who don’t have a professional nutritionist to aid them or those who do not need to follow this diet in order to treat neural diseases, like epilepsy. With such a large chunk of your diet being fat, your heart takes a hit. Such a high fat intake for so long can really affect your arteries in the long run. Not only that, but limiting your carbs to such a degree limits the nutrients you can consume. Eating just one small apple can meet your daily carb limit, and think of all the nutrients you get from fruit with a high, but healthy, sugar content.
The keto diet is another fad diet of medical studies being taken out of context for those who are desperate to lose weight. Most professional nutritionists say that at best, for the average person, keto might be moderately healthy. The possible consequences of damaging your metabolism and heart long term in order to shed a few pounds is not worth it. Eating a balanced diet of fruits, veggies, and whole grains is almost always the answer, most professionals say. Leave the ketogenic diet to those using it as a means of treatment for various diseases.
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