You may have heard that a ketogenic diet has a rapid weight loss result. You may have also heard that some people lost more than 10 pounds in one week.
We are often told that losing weight too quickly is bad for our health, so is the ketogenic diet safe or not safe?
For those who are preparing to try this diet, or to those who have already begun to lose weight with this diet, you may be wondering:
Is the keto diet dangerous?
Before starting, it is necessary to recognize the potential risks of the ketogenic diet, so that you can have a true understanding of this diet.
What Is A Keto Diet Plan
When talking about diet and weight management, some of the most famous low-carb diets are diets such as the Atkins diet, the Mediterranean diet and the primitive diet have been praised and favored by people in the world for healthy weight loss..
What these low-carb diets have in common is that they all require very few carbohydrates and a relatively high proportion of protein and high-quality fats. Sometimes these diets are called “ketogenic” or “keto” diets.
However, the true ketogenic diet is different.
The proportion of the ketogenic diet
Compared with other low-carbohydrate diets that focus on protein, the ketogenic diet is focused mainly on fat, with that proportion being as high as 75-80%. The other focus is that the carbohydrates eaten must be less than 5%, or should not exceed 20 grams daily.
The ketogenic diet was first used in the medical field to help reduce the frequency of epileptic seizures in children.[*]
“While it also has been tried for weight loss, only short-term results have been studied.”
Kathy McManus, Director, Department of Nutrition at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, warned:
“We do not know for certain the long-term effects of the keto diet, nor whether it’s safe.”
How Does A Keto Diet Work For Weight Loss
The carbohydrates you eat every day are converted into glucose, which will have three forms of transformation in your body:
1. Oxidative energy supply: This works as fuel to provide energy for your body.
2. Becomes glycogen: These are stored in the liver and muscles and will be used when needed.
3. Converted into fat: It becomes fat cells and stores them for later use.
(If you still don’t understand why the buns, bread and cakes can make you gain weight, look at number 3.)
When you only consume very few carbohydrates, it cannot provide enough glucose for energy, so the stored glycogen is also used up. In order to survive, your body has to rely on other energy sources.
The fat provided by the ketogenic diet has become the ideal substitute.
In your body fat is broken down into the following two forms and enters the liver:[*]
1. Fatty acids: They are directly converted into ketone bodies.
2. Glycerol: Go through the process of gluconeogenesis and is converted into sugar.
Both forms can provide energy for your body and brain.
After an adaptation period of 3-4 days, your body will transition from using glucose as fuel to using fat as an energy source.
At the same time, the fat cells originally stored in your body are also mobilized, and fat burning officially begins.
Can A Ketogenic Diet Really Improve Health
In addition to treating epilepsy in children, another promising effect of the keto diet is weight loss.
Although the medical community has not made a final conclusion on the effectiveness and safety of this method for long-term use, its effect in reducing body fat and improving insulin sensitivity in the short term is beyond doubt.
Studies have shown that a ketogenic diet lasting for 2-6 months is safe. Under the guidance and supervision of a doctor, it can possibly be extended to about 2 years.[*]
According to a review published in the journal “Nutrients” in 2017, restricting carbohydrate intake can effectively prevent metabolic syndrome.[*]
A high proportion of high-quality fats and moderate amounts of protein are the basic requirements of a ketogenic diet. Therefore, it will significantly increase satiety and reduce the level of Ghrelin (known as “hunger hormone”).
If you lose your appetite and eat less, you will have a better chance to lose weight.
Without any doubt, obesity is the main risk factor leading to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
When you lose weight, your body fat (especially visceral fat) is reduced, leading to an improvement in your overall health.
Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?
However, the purpose of this article is to remind everyone that there is a dark side to the ketogenic diet.
Continue to read on.
The Risks Of The Ketogenic Diet
Your body has already adapted to a high-carbohydrate diet. Before suddenly changing the track and completely changing the diet, you should be aware of the risks of doing so.
These risk factors include:
1. May have an impact on the liver and kidneys
Compared with ordinary low-carbohydrate diets (such as the Mediterranean diet), the ketogenic diet has higher fat and protein intake.
As we mentioned earlier, part of the fat is converted into fatty acids during the decomposition process and enters the liver in the form of ketones.
A large amount of fat intake will increase the burden on the liver.
During the process of protein being broken down into amino acids, nitrogen-containing wastes, such as urea, are produced. These wastes need to be metabolized by the kidneys.
So eating too much protein can also increase the burden on the kidneys.
These two risks are lower for healthy people. However, If you have liver and kidney problems, you need to be very careful.
2. Nutrient deficiency
Restricting carbohydrates means that cereals, starchy vegetables and high fructose fruits should be limited.
Therefore, you may be at risk for nutrient deficiencies, including selenium, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin B and vitamin C.
The remedy for this is to supplement these trace elements from protein, eating foods like poultry meat and seafood. As well as consume enough non-starchy vegetables and low-carb fruits.
You can also get these nutrients by taking nutritional supplements.
3. Keto flu
During the first week or two of the keto diet, your body undergoes the process of changing from sugar metabolism to fat metabolism.
For most people, this series of changes will cause different degrees of adverse reactions, which are called “keto flu”.
Some common symptoms include:
- bad breath
- hair loss
- emotional instability
- muscle cramps
- muscle soreness
- difficulty falling asleep
- craving for sweets
- irregular menstruation
- some people could experience keto rash
Gradually, when your body adapts to the new metabolism, these uncomfortable symptoms will usually subside within a few days or weeks.
Who Shouldn’t Use The Keto Diet Method
Although the ketogenic diet has many benefits, especially helping countless people lose weight all over the world in recent years, it is not for everyone.
It is best not to take any risks if you have the following health issues, especially without the guidance of a doctor.
1. Patients with type 1 diabetes
Patients with type 1 diabetes need to rely on insulin. The ketogenic diet lowers blood sugar levels. Therefore, with both of them working together low blood sugar levels can become dangerous.
2. People who’ve had their gallbladder removed
One of the ketogenic diet requirements is eating more fat.
The bile secreted by the gallbladder helps digest fat. Without this organ, it can be difficult for the body to digest and absorb large amounts of fat.
3. People suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS)
This is a common central nervous demyelinating disease. It is best for people with this disease to avoid ketogenic diets.
Although some studies have shown that a short-term ketogenic diet is safe for MS patients, it still needs to be carried out under the special guidance of a doctor or nutritionist.
4. People with thyroid problems
So far, the influence of the ketogenic diet on the thyroid is still very controversial.
If you have such problems, such as hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, it is best to consult your doctor before considering a ketogenic diet.
5. People with liver or kidney problems
As we have been explained in the previous text a ketogenic diet may increase the burden on the liver and kidneys.
If you have abnormal liver and kidney function, you are not suitable for a ketogenic diet.
6.During pregnancy and lactation
Ensuring comprehensive nutrition is the most important thing during this period. For the best health benefits for you and your baby, don’t try a ketogenic diet during pregnancy and lactation.
A ketogenic diet is safe in the short-term. This has been confirmed by some scientific research.
However, long-term safety and effect have not yet been concluded. Especially relating to the potential risks, which should not be ignored.
If you’re in good health and do not have any of the issues mentioned above, you can look into trying a keto diet for a short period of time (up to 2-6 months).
In addition to its benefits for rapid weight loss, it may also prevent insulin resistance, may reverse type 2 diabetes, possibly reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer and may reduce seizures.
Again, before you start, it’s best to consult your doctor before beginning any major diet change.
This article The Ultimate Ketogenic Diet Guide for Weight Loss can help you get on track.