Is the Keto Diet Safe?
To best answer the question of “Is the Keto Diet Safe”, let’s look at facts about the diet plan and also its benefits and drawbacks.
Fact: About 5% (12.9 million) Americans follow the Keto diet each year. [International Food Information Council (IFIC). 2021. 2021 Food and Health Survey.]
Fact: 46% of followers cheat on the keto diet plan. [America’s Test Kitchen, U.S. News. 2020. We Surveyed People on the Keto Diet. Here’s What They Say.]
Fact: The #1 reason people cheat on the keto plan is because it is too restrictive. [Dalhousie University, Faculty of Agriculture. 2020. New survey suggests more than twice as many Canadians have tried and dropped the “Keto diet” than Canadians still on it.]
Fact: The #2 reason is because it is too expensive. [Dalhousie University, Faculty of Agriculture. 2020. New survey suggests more than twice as many Canadians have tried and dropped the “Keto diet” than Canadians still on it.]
Fact: The #3 reason is that it is too time-consuming. [Dalhousie University, Faculty of Agriculture. 2020. New survey suggests more than twice as many Canadians have tried and dropped the “Keto diet” than Canadians still on it.]
Fact: 70% of Keto dieters don’t track their blood ketone levels. For the ketogenic diet to be “true”, you must keep your carb count below 50 grams every day, otherwise you are no longer in ketosis. [Wajeed Masood, Pavan Annamaraju, Kalyan R. Uppalur. 2021. Ketogenic Diet.]
What is the Keto Diet?
This diet involves consuming high-fat, low-carbohydrate foods to enter a metabolic state called ketosis, which leads to the burning of fat for energy instead of carbohydrates. It must be followed every day or you have to “start over”.
Is the Keto Diet Healthy?
Keto Diet Benefits
- Weight Loss: The keto diet is known to promote weight loss by reducing appetite and increasing fat burning.
- Improved Blood Sugar Control: The keto diet has been shown to improve blood sugar control in people with diabetes by reducing the need for insulin and lowering blood sugar levels.
- Reduced Risk of Chronic Diseases: Studies have shown that the keto diet may reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Increased Energy Levels: While some people may experience fatigue during the initial stages of the keto diet, many report increased energy levels once their body adjusts to the new eating pattern.
- Improved Brain Function: The keto diet has been linked to improved cognitive function and a reduction in symptoms of neurological conditions such as epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease.
Keto Diet Drawbacks
- Nutrient Deficiencies: The keto diet restricts many healthy foods, including fruits, whole grains, and legumes, which can lead to nutrient deficiencies if not properly managed.
- Increased Fat Intake: The keto diet is high in fat, which can increase the risk of heart disease and other health problems if unhealthy fats are consumed.
- Difficulty Maintaining the Diet: The keto diet can be challenging to maintain, especially when eating out or traveling, which can lead to a return to unhealthy eating habits and not only gaining back the weight you lost but potentially even more.
- Potential Side Effects: Some people may experience side effects such as constipation, dizziness, decreased energy, headaches, and bad breath during the initial stages of the keto diet.
- Lack of Long-Term Research: There is limited research on the long term effects of the keto diet, and it is unclear whether this eating pattern is sustainable over the long term.
While the keto diet has been linked to weight loss and other health benefits, it is important to be aware of the potential downsides and ask yourself if you are willing to risk them and also if this method of eating is sustainable.
An alternative is to learn how to eat as part of a healthy lifestyle that includes a range of foods and is not as restrictive, expensive, or time-consuming. Learn more about meal planning and how to take control of your eating.