28 Jan Pros and cons of the keto diet
It seems like everyone is talking about the ketogenic (keto) diet. With many people boasting it’s benefits, it can sound like an exciting train to jump on. Before beginning a new diet plan, however, it’s always a good idea to weigh up the pros and cons.
The keto diet requires a rigorous limitation of carbohydrates while allowing a liberal ingestion of fats (including saturated fats).
So what are the pros?
- The keto diet induces a rapid weight loss. It is not entirely clear, however, if the loss is due to water loss, a special effect of the diet itself (i.e. fat burning) or a reduction in total calorie intake.
- The keto diet helps reduce seizures in pediatric patients with epilepsy.
- The keto diet can have a direct impact on glucose concentrations, lowering them over time and improving insulin sensitivity for patients with diabetes.
There are, however, a number of cons that may outway the potential benefits.
- Being so restrictive keto diet adopters may experience nutrient deficiencies as they are not receiving the nutrients – vitamins, minerals, fibres – from fruits, legumes, vegetables and whole grains. This can lead to increased constipation.
- During the diet transition, many people experience uncomfortable side effects such as hunger, headaches, nausea, fatigue, irritability and brain fog that may last days. This is referred to as ‘Keto Flu’.
- The increased consumption of fats, specifically saturated fats on the keto diet, can increase cardiovascular disease risk.
- Patients with kidney disease have an increased risk of requiring dialysis on the keto diet due to the additional ketones that their renal system has to process.
- With so much fat to metabolize, the diet may make any existing liver conditions worse.
- The keto diet may harm bone health in the long term, increasing bone breakdown and a reduction of bone formation (osteoporosis).
- Many people have trouble sticking with such a restrictive diet. For others, its rigid nature can leade to obsessive and disordered eating.