New diet trends come and go, but the ketogenic (“keto”) diet has been in the spotlight for a few years now with no signs of disappearing. All diets have certain benefits and risks, and it’s important to talk to your doctor before starting any diet or exercise regimen. But what exactly is the keto diet, and how healthy is it?
Famous diet programs such as Atkins and South Beach are actually similar to the keto diet, where participants are encouraged to eat high amounts of protein and little or no carbohydrates. The difference between these plans and keto is that a true ketogenic diet focuses on fat. An internet search for keto recipes brings up countless results for “fat bombs” made with oils or nut butters, and dinners made with heavy cream and large amounts of butter.
The idea is that as you increase your fat intake and reduce carbs, your body eventually becomes very efficient at burning fat for fuel, which results in weight loss. While many people have lost weight on the keto diet, there are certainly risks that are worth discussing:
- Keto dieters consume high amounts of saturated fat, which can increase your risk of heart disease
- Beans, whole grains, and even certain vegetables are not allowed, meaning your body is missing out on key nutrients that can’t be obtained from any other source
- Because the diet is centered around fat, many participants don’t get enough fiber, which can lead to constipation and other digestive issues
- Research suggests the keto diet is not sustainable for long periods of time, which could lead to regaining the weight you lose after stopping the diet
The bottom line: if you’re thinking about trying the keto diet, schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss your health and nutrition needs and weight loss goals. You and your provider can work together to create a diet and exercise plan that will work for you!
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