HealthONE - January 16, 2019

The “keto diet” has gained much popularity lately, and we want to know; is it good or bad for you?

We asked Deborrah Truex, a Dietitian at The Medical Center of Aurora, what she thought of this new diet.

  1. What is the “keto diet”?
    “It is any diet regime that causes the metabolic state of ketosis,” Truex says. “Because carbohydrates are so limited, the body is forced to break down fat rather than use glucose for fuel. It’s typically high in fat (75% of more of total calories), moderate in protein, and low is carbohydrates (less than 40-60grams/day).”
  2. Do you think the “keto diet” is a sustainable diet, or just a fad?
    “The ketogenic diet (keto diet) was originally used to treat individuals who have epilepsy; it has proven to help reduce seizures by 50 percent or more in some individuals. People do indeed lose weight, yet this is a very difficult diet to follow. It requires extensive meal prep, a support system and a well-equipped cooking environment when followed correctly. Keto diet followers eat fewer grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables, so they are at high risk for nutrient deficits of calcium, vitamin D, selenium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, essential fatty acids and prebiotics. Because of the reduced fiber intake, increased constipation and negative effects on gut microbiome are likely to occur. There is also an increased risk of kidney damage due to the higher level of nitrogen excretion during protein metabolism.”
  3. Do you think the “keto diet” is healthy or unhealthy?
    “There is mixed opinion and limited long-term research on this diet as a lifestyle change. We do know for sure that a plant based, high fiber eating regime has again and again proven to be the best way to eat for disease prevention and overall cardiovascular health. The keto diet includes a high amount of inflammatory foods, which we know can be a factor in many disease states. There is likely a place for this diet for such disease states as epilepsy and even short-term use for diabetic control. We would caution long-term use of this diet for all of the above reasons and/or until more long-term studies are out. There are many more research based, easier to follow lifestyle changes that seem less risky. These include intermittent fasting, and even simply a lower carb diet overall.”
  4. Do you think the “keto diet” really helps people lose weight?
    “Yes, it does help people to lose weight because they will start to burn fat as long as they are in ketosis. Initially the weight loss is water weight and individuals may experience some muscle loss, so weight lifting is encouraged. However, when carbohydrates start to be re-introduced, many people will begin to gain much of the weight back.”

In the words of Michael Pollan, “Eat (real) food, mostly plants, not too much.” While the keto diet may help people lose weight initially, it may not be a sustainable plan to maintain weight loss. Eating a healthy, vegetable heavy diet, while avoiding large portion sizes may be a better bet when looking to lose those extra holiday pounds.