April 25, 2024

Keto Diet: Was All The Hype Worth It?

Written by our expert

Dr. Meenakshi Maruwada

Dr. Meenakshi Maruwada

Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS), GMHE (IIM Bangalore)

Keto Diet: Was All The Hype Worth It?
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The keto or ketogenic diet has overtaken popular diets like Atkins and intermittent fasting to become one of the most followed diets globally.

There were around 25.4 million unique searches for this diet in 2020! Interestingly, the ketogenic diet was created in the 1920s as a diet high in protein and fat and low in carbs.

While there’s plenty of information about the keto diet, let’s look at the latest research on the diet.

A Brief Overview of the Ketogenic Diet

Keto diet is a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet initially developed to treat epilepsy. However, over the years, several studies conducted on the keto diet have stated its benefits for several health conditions, like obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, and even cancer

The basic premise of the keto diet is to maintain a daily carbohydrate intake of less than 50 grams. When carbohydrate intake is significantly reduced, the body goes into ketosis. During this time, the body burns stored and excess body fat to generate energy. As part of the keto diet, one must avoid carbohydrate-rich foods like grains, many fruits, sugary foods and beverages, root vegetables, and alcohol.

The Latest Review: A Breakdown

With several years of keto diet literature and studies now available, researchers have better analysed its short-term and long-term effects on human health. Here’s how a keto diet affects health conditions:

  • Diabetes

A recently published crossover trial found that individuals who adhered to a ketogenic diet experienced better glucose control and reduced body weight. However, the decrease in HbA1c levels was not significant. The trial also found that participants found adhering to such a strict dietary regimen difficult.

  • Heart diseases

A ketogenic diet was found to lower inflammation in the body, which is associated with a decrease in heart disease risk. A low-carb, high-fat diet has been shown to reduce bad or LDL cholesterol, a significant risk factor in heart disease. Based on existing studies and recent research, a keto diet may reduce the risk of heart disease.

  • Obesity

The prevalence of obesity has increased, prompting more people to look for weight loss measures, including diet and fitness regimes. The keto diet has shown significant benefits over other diets. However, its restrictive principles make it difficult for people to follow, with around 50% failing to adhere to it

Studies in the past few years have shown that a keto diet does not lead to significant weight loss after six months. Therefore, it is recommended only in the short term.

Long-term Risk of Keto Diet: What Does Latest Research Say

Besides these limitations, other long-term health risks associated with a keto diet include:

  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • 30% increase in neural tube defects if followed during pregnancy
  • Impaired intestinal function due to limited fibre consumption
  • 2x the risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Increased risk of kidney stones and chronic kidney disease
  • 35% increase in LDL (bad) cholesterol

Key Takeaway: Keto To Do or Not To Do 

When it was developed in the 1920s, the ketogenic diet was meant to be used in clinical settings to treat epilepsy. Several studies have been performed on the keto diet over many years, and they have all highlighted its benefits not just for epilepsy in children and adults but also for weight loss. 

However, recent studies on the effects of the keto diet show that following it for a longer time can result in several adverse effects on the body, such as dehydration, low blood sugar levels, metabolic acidosis and gastrointestinal trouble.

Always consult your doctor and nutritionist before embarking on a keto diet, especially if you have other health conditions.

FAQs on Keto Diet

What is a keto diet?

The keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat, and high-protein diet that was initially developed to manage epilepsy. Today, it is used for weight loss and to improve overall health. 

Is the keto diet harmful?

    Keto diet may be harmful if followed without consulting your doctor or the guidance of a nutritionist. 

    Is the keto diet good for weight loss?

      Keto diet helps promote weight loss in several ways –

      • Boosts metabolism
      • Reduces appetite
      • Low in carbohydrates

      How does the keto diet work?

        In a keto diet, carbohydrates are limited. Thus, the body gets its energy from dietary fat and stored fat. This breakdown of fats produces ketones, causing ketosis in the body. Therefore, a keto diet helps lower weight.

        How many calories can you have on the keto diet [female]

          Individuals following a keto diet are allowed to consume less than 50 grams of carbohydrates when following a keto diet. 

          How many calories can you have on keto diet [male]

            If you follow a keto diet, regardless of gender, you must consume less than 50 g of carbohydrates.

            Will the keto diet increase cholesterol?

              Some research states that the keto diet can increase cholesterol levels (LDL) in the long term. However, some studies state otherwise. If you have pre-existing high cholesterol levels, your doctor and nutritionist will adjust the structure of your keto diet to prevent raising them.

              Is the keto diet good for fatty liver?

                Existing studies indicate that a keto diet may be beneficial for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). However, more research is required to prove it.

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