Nutrition

#AskTheExpert: Is the High Fat Keto Diet a Concern for People with Certain Health Conditions?

Keto diet has become one of the most popular diets of the decade. Interestingly enough it wasn’t originally crafted as a means of weight loss, instead it was used by physicians to treat epilepsy in young children during the 1970s. Due to the number of reports on weight loss, many are interested and want to know is this THE diet for them? Or is it just too good to be true?

What is the Keto Diet?

The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, extremely low-carb diet where fat accounts for about 75% of calories. The main goal of the ketogenic diet is to decrease the intake of carbohydrates as much as possible in order to trick the body into using another method of fuel called “ketones.” The new fuel ketone is then ultimately used for energy by your cells instead of carbohydrates.

Why are people raving about this diet?

Due to the extremely low intake of carbohydrates many see quick weight loss results. Some have also reported an increase in their HDL “good cholesterol” levels and a decrease in their LDL “bad cholesterol levels” short-term.

 

What the media isn’t reporting:

Most reports on weight loss and improvements in cholesterol have been short-term. As of this date not enough research has been conducted on the actual long-term effects of the ketogenic diet. Many health professionals say that it is difficult to follow and maintain. It is also one that can be expensive considering the high-quality fats one should consume.

Health concerns and potential issues:

This diet deprives a person of carbohydrates, which are found in high quality whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables which one can argue are essential to a healthy diet. The ketogenic diet can exacerbate kidney and liver disease. It can result in vitamin B, vitamin C and mineral deficiencies, cause constipation, and increase LDL “bad cholesterol” levels.

Summary:

The best way to achieve long-term benefits is with a change in lifestyle and a balanced diet. The ketogenic diet was originally created as a treatment for epilepsy in young children. It is one that is complicated, expensive and one that poses a concern for people with certain health conditions. Remember that before going on any kind of diet you should consult with your physician and dietitian.

Sources used:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5959976/

https://www.uchicagomedicine.org/forefront/health-and-wellness-articles/ketogenic-diet-what-are-the-risks

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/should-you-try-the-keto-diet

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/ketogenic-diet-is-the-ultimate-low-carb-diet-good-for-you-2017072712089

Written by: Hillaris Pozo, Dietetic Intern, Lehman College

Reviewed by: Nazirber Maduro, RDN, CDN CDCES

Nazirber Maduro, RDN, CDN, CDCES

Nazirber Maduro is a bilingual registered dietitian and nutritionist who believes that healthy and delicious food should be enjoyed at any stage in life. She helps people transform the way they eat and find joy in food through the practice of food and lifestyle medicine.

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