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How Healthy is the Keto Diet?

With New Year’s Eve on the horizon, your mind has likely already turned to your resolutions, and one them is to lose weight in 2020. You’ve heard quite a bit of late about the ketogenic diet, which adherents say is a great way to lose weight without having to deprive yourself of some of the foods you love. What you need to know first is just how healthy and effective the keto diet is.

What is the ketogenic diet?

The objective of a ketogenic diet is to put your body into a state called ketosis. According to Dr. Marcelo Campos, writing for the Harvard Health Blog, this state is achieved by eating a diet that is rich in fat and protein and very low in carbohydrates. This causes your body to release ketone bodies — molecules derived from stored fats — into your bloodstream to provide energy in place of glucose, which means you’ll be burning fat. Per Dr. Campos, you’ll typically reach ketosis in two to four days of eating fewer than 20 to 50 grams of carbs a day, depending on your body composition.

Sports scientist Rudy Mawer, writing for Healthline, writes that the standard macronutrient balance for a keto diet is 75 percent fat, 20 percent protein and 5 percent carbohydrates. There are variations of the diet to consider, including a higher-protein diet that bumps protein intake to 60 percent and drops fat to 35 percent, and diets that allow for high-carb days and higher carb intake around workouts.

What are the benefits?

Weight loss is the primary benefit of going on the keto diet, and as Mawer points out, several independent studies substantiate its effectiveness. Some studies show that keto dieting is more effective than the traditional low-fat diet, and Dr. Campos notes its effectiveness over the Mediterranean diet. Dr. Campos notes, however, that the difference between the keto diet and other diets tends to balance over time.

Mawer also points to studies that show additional potential long-term benefits of keto dieting. In studies, keto dieting has been linked to increased insulin sensitivity, faster brain recovery after a concussion or injury and even improvements to acne. By improving blood pressure, blood sugar and HDL cholesterol levels, keto dieting has also been linked to reducing the risk of heart disease, and it’s being investigated for its effectiveness in treating cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease.

What are the risks?

One of the more common side effects of starting a ketogenic diet is a condition dubbed keto flu. According to WebMD, the symptoms of keto flu are temporary and include but are not limited to fatigue, cramping, nausea, constipation, headaches and difficulty sleeping. Keto flu is largely considered to be the result of your body adjusting to the lack of carbohydrates, and it’s recommended that you drink plenty of water to help mitigate the symptoms.

According to Amanda MacMillan, diarrhea is also a common side effect of the diet because of the lack of fiber. Along a similar line, the Mayo Clinic points out that eating a diet that’s high in fats and protein and cutting out carbohydrates means it’s more difficult to get the micronutrients you need. You can offset these issues by taking supplements, but this can be somewhat expensive.

If you suffer from diabetes, WebMD notes that the increase of ketone levels can lead to a condition called ketoacidosis. This condition alters the chemical balance in your blood and, if left untreated, can lead to a coma or even death. Symptoms of ketoacidosis include dry mouth, excessive urination, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, stomach pain and breath that smells fruity.

MacMillan also points out studies linking high-fat, low-carb diets to increased cholesterol, increased risk of diabetes and even a higher risk of cancer.

Ultimately, any effective diet should be a commitment, and one that should be run past your primary care physician. Ketogenic dieting is considered a great way to lose weight, but your best bet is to talk with a professional first to see how it stacks up to other options.

This article is presented by Eastchester Chrysler Jeep Dodge.
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