The ketogenic diet has been getting a lot of attention in the past few years, touted as a diet that will help people overcome their dietary restrictions and get the results they want. With a rising number of people following the diet, many are curious as to whether or not it’s truly evidence based.
To find the answer, we need to consider what the ketogenic diet entails and whether or not it can provide the health benefits that it’s touted to deliver.
What is the Ketogenic Diet?
Simply put, the ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet. It can also be referred to as a fat-adapted diet because it encourages the body to use fat for energy instead of carbs. When following the ketogenic diet, you will drastically reduce the amount of carbohydrates you consume, replacing them with fats. As a result, your body will begin to rely more on fat for fuel, instead of the carbohydrates that you had been consuming.
There are three basic guidelines that you must follow when following the ketogenic diet:
- Eat high-fat, low-carb foods
- Avoid foods with added sugar
- Consume the recommended daily amount of fats, proteins, and vitamins
Some people who are new to the diet may also be wondering about the differences between the ketogenic diet and other low-carb diets. While the ketogenic diet has many similarities to other low-carb diets, it also contains a few key differences. For example, the ketogenic diet does not permit the consumption of grains (like wheat or rice) or grains products (like bread or pasta). This is significant as it means that you can’t have cereal with your morning eggs or lunchtime pizza! As someone who follows a gluten-free diet myself (which is also a low-carb diet), I often find that the ketogenic diet is a great replacement when I’m looking to give my diet a boost. When you remove grains and sugar from your diet, it puts you in a better position to achieve good results with weight loss and improved health.
Does the Ketogenic Diet Work?
As with most other fad diets, there is no concrete evidence to suggest that the ketogenic diet is effective for weight loss. In fact, studies have found that individuals on a ketogenic diet didn’t see any significant weight loss at all. In some cases, those who followed the diet actually gained a few pounds! This means that, at the very least, the ketogenic diet isn’t effective for weight loss. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have any other health benefits.
While it’s true that the ketogenic diet doesn’t offer much in the way of weight loss results, it is known to be effective for some other health reasons. Studies suggest that it can help individuals with type 2 diabetes, hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol), polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and metabolic syndrome (a combination of the above).
Additionally, some research has found that a ketogenic diet can be helpful for neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Because the ketogenic diet causes your body to produce more acetylcholine (a neurotransmitter that helps with memory and focus) than usual, it has been suggested that the diet may be able to help people with Alzheimer’s disease recall memories better.
Though the research is still in its early stages, it’s promising to consider the potential health benefits of the ketogenic diet.
Is the Ketogenic Diet Safe?
One of the biggest questions surrounding the ketogenic diet is whether or not it’s safe. After all, following a low-carb diet means you’re limiting the amount of carbohydrates you consume. This, in turn, can lead to complications (or harm) from nutrient deficiencies or dehydration. For example, if you’re not getting enough vitamin A, which is important for your immune system, then you could be at risk for infections.
Luckily, there are no known dangerous side effects directly attributable to the ketogenic diet. Nevertheless, it’s important to recognize the potential risks before you begin following it. If you’re at risk for nutrient deficiencies, then it’s best to speak with your doctor about it beforehand. Additionally, if you’re concerned about dehydration, then it’s a good idea to drink a lot of water.
I hate to end on a negative note, but it’s important to note that the ketogenic diet is not evidence based. Even if you’re a health professional, you would still need to conduct research to determine the effectiveness of the ketogenic diet for certain health issues. Also, keep in mind that while the ketogenic diet is not effective for weight loss, it can still be dangerous if you don’t follow the proper guidelines. In light of this, it’s not advisable to just “try it out” if you’re not sure if you’re going to like it or not. Try it out in stages, and if you do decide that it’s for you, then go for it! But for now, at least, the ketogenic diet is not for you.