The ketogenic (keto) diet, a low-carbohydrate and high-fat eating plan, has gained considerable attention for its purported health benefits.
However, it’s crucial to weigh both the positives and negatives before embarking on this dietary journey. In this article, we discuss the evidence-based pros and cons of the keto diet.
Health Benefits of the Keto Diet
Multiple studies suggest the keto diet can lead to significant weight loss, especially during the initial phases.
One study reported that overweight individuals lost an average of 30 pounds over 24 weeks on the keto diet, nearly double the 15 pounds lost by those on a low-fat diet.
Improved Blood Sugar Control
The keto diet may benefit those with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes.
A 16-week study found that those on the keto diet had significantly lower fasting blood sugar levels and improved insulin sensitivity compared to those on a low-fat diet.
Inflammation is associated with various chronic illnesses like heart disease and cancer. A 12-week study showed that keto dieters had lower levels of several inflammation markers compared to those on a low-fat diet.
Harms of the Keto Diet
A common initial side effect is the “keto flu,” characterized by symptoms like headaches, nausea, fatigue, and constipation. These symptoms usually occur within the first week and can last from a few days to a few weeks.
The diet can lead to elevated levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. However, it’s worth noting that this is often accompanied by an increase in HDL (“good”) cholesterol, complicating the risk profile.
Some studies suggest that the keto diet could potentially harm the kidneys, especially in individuals with pre-existing kidney issues. The diet may increase the risk of kidney stones, a common kidney disease complication.
Consult a Healthcare Professional
Given the potential benefits and risks, it is crucial to consult a healthcare provider before starting the keto diet, particularly for those with existing medical conditions.
The keto diet has shown promise for weight loss, blood sugar control, and reduced inflammation but comes with its set of potential downsides, like the keto flu, elevated cholesterol, and possible kidney issues.
As with any dietary approach, individual responses can vary, making medical consultation an essential first step.
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