In the diet world, fad diets quickly fade, and some diets, like the South Beach or keto diet, dramatically impact traditional weight loss methods. You often hear all the benefits of the keto diet touted, but are there downsides? Can the keto diet be bad for you or any person? There are many benefits, but also some downsides. The diet isn’t for everyone either. Some people should not follow it.
What is the keto diet?
The keto diet began in the 1920s, but its roots are even older. Over 1000 years ago, fasting played an important role in seizure control, according to the records of Hippocrates and the Bible scriptures. Fasting only worked while people fasted, but they had to eat sometime. It wasn’t a long-term solution. In the 1920s, Dr. Rawle Geyelin spoke of fasting for epilepsy treatment. That led from one scientific discovery to another and finally to the realization that ketosis from a low carbohydrate diet could help control seizures in approximately 85% of patients, eliminating them in 50%.
The keto diet changes how your body gets energy.
The keto diet is a low carbohydrate diet that divides the calories from macronutrients so more calories come from protein and fat than from carbohydrates. A strict diet may have 5% from carbs, 20% from protein, and 75% from fat. It forces the body to switch from using glucose from carbs to converting fats to ketones for energy.
Dangers of the keto diet.
Not everything is weight loss and roses when it comes to the keto diet. There are some dangers. One of the biggest is the potential for kidney damage and kidney stones. It’s the high animal fat in the diet that creates the problem. It can cause urine to have more citrate that binds to calcium to create stones and reduce the body’s ability to prevent the development of stones. The diet also creates acidic urine, increasing the risk of kidney stones and chronic kidney disease. The diet can also affect bone density and lead to thinner, brittle bones. Since it’s a highly animal-based food, it can also affect heart health.
- The keto diet may work primarily because it reduces sugar and refined food in the diet. People do have to plan carefully to ensure they get adequate nutrition from fruits and vegetables since they contain carbs.
- Many people experience flu-like symptoms when they first start the keto diet. It can also be particularly dangerous for people with diabetes, as it causes a risk of severely low blood sugar levels.
- It’s hard to get adequate fiber on the keto diet. You can’t get fiber from animal products. It comes from plant-based products, but those have carbs. That can cause changes in the gut microbiome, affect gut health, and cause constipation.
- Those who are pregnant, have kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes, or bone problems shouldn’t use the keto diet without checking with their healthcare professional. Even if you don’t have a preexisting condition, it’s a good idea to always check first.
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