Is The Keto Diet Healthy?

The word diet can provoke many different reactions. The term may excite fitness instructors, but your nutritionist might be cringing. Add ketosis on top of dieting, and what do you have? A health controversy: the keto diet. What is this diet method? Will it fend off those extra pounds? And is it truly healthy? We'll dive into those details today.

Mayo Clinic defines the keto diet as a meal plan low in carbs yet very high in fat. The trend got its name from ketosis, a state of caloric deficit where the body begins burning fat rather than carbohydrates (or sugars) for energy. A doctor designed the regimen to decrease seizures in epilepsy patients, but it was later turned into a weight-loss diet by Dr. Robert Atkins in the 1970s. Since going keto burns unreplaced carbs at light speed, weight loss happens rapidly. But there's more to the story. It also suppresses appetite and helps people eat less, so they burn off unwanted fat, according to Men's Health. But is it a healthy way to lose weight?

How healthy is the keto diet?

Specialists at Harvard Health question whether the keto diet is healthy. It is primarily composed of fats with minimal carbs and protein, and there are no restrictions on the quality of fats dieters consume. This idea defies the American Heart Association, which recommends a total intake of mainly healthy fats of around only 50 to 70 grams per day. Also, carbohydrates cause us to retain water, so dehydration and electrolyte imbalance may occur when we stop eating them (via Medical News Today). Everyday Health says the diet's restrictiveness may trigger binge-eating. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) additionally points out that it can cause flu-like symptoms — like stomach upset, headache, fatigue, and dizziness — as well as constipation and sleep problems. It may further not be safe for people with certain medical conditions, including those with diseases involving the pancreas, liver, thyroid, and gallbladder. Research has also linked it to health risks like kidney stones, liver disease, and vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

AND says the jury is still out on whether the keto diet is a healthy tool for weight loss. Without supervision and nutrition education, the dangers of the keto diet may outweigh the benefits. They suggest speaking with a registered dietician or nutritionist (RDN) to determine your best weight loss plan.