The Keto diet has become popular and still has a lot of popularity in many states of America and in many parts of the world. Proponents of this diet have been circulating a lot of information about how it can help you lose some certain amount of body weight in just a few days. Critics have argued against this and highlighted the dangers of doing this. However, it’s important to know the basics of a keto diet, and how it works, before going into the dangers it might cause.
What Is The Ketogenic Diet?
A ketogenic diet can be described as a type of diet that has a low amount of carbohydrate, moderate level of protein, and a lot of fat. The idea of the diet is to force the body to rely on the body to burn up and utilize its fat deposit for the production of energy. This condition is also known as ketosis. Two products are formed when fat is broken down, these are fatty acid and ketones. Some studies have shown that ketogenic diet is safe and can be greatly helpful for the people who are trying to lose weight. These are overweight or obese people. It’s a common weight loss method. Apart from helping people burn fat, ketosis can also make you feel less hungry. Ketosis usually occurs normally in people who are not obese. According to physiology, people start using their fat deposit after fasting or consuming less than 50grams for about 3-5 days. The diet has also been significant for the treatment of epilepsy, especially in children. Although the mechanism hasn’t been explained yet, an accumulation of ketone bodies in the bloodstream helps to reduce seizures and epilepsy. Apart from this, it can also help in the prevention of some diseases such as heart-related disorders, cancers and so on.
Advantages Of Ketogenic Diet
- Helps in the loss of weight: The ketogenic diet has been a significant weight loss strategy for a while. It has been proven effective by people who used the diet. This is because of the low carbohydrate level of the keto diet. The body is forced to break down and metabolize its adipose tissue for energy. This, when coupled with regular exercises, or working out in the gym, is the perfect and one of the quickest ways to lose weight. However, you should not change your diet drastically. It’s best to make this change gradually, to reduce the effects of the symptoms that might occur because of this.
- Useful for the treatment of metabolic disease: Metabolic diseases include diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure. The ketogenic diet helps the body to burn fat and convert them into energy that can be used by the body. Burning fat reduces the risk of having some diseases such as cardiovascular disorders. Examples of this include atherosclerosis. The less fat available in the body, the less the chances of having high blood pressure or becoming overweight and obese. It has also been discovered that ketosis reduces the amount of insulin in the body, further reducing the risk of having diabetes mellitus.
- Brain traumas: The ketogenic diet helps the brain to recover quickly, especially after traumas such as road traffic accidents, and concussions. Basically, anything that affects the integrity of the head.
- Neurodegenerative disorders: The keto diet is also important for the treatment of some brain disease such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Even though the mechanism isn’t clear yet, it has been noted that the ketone diet helps to improve the symptoms of these diseases.
What Are The Adverse Effects Of Ketogenic Diet?
- Poor breath is prevalent: People on the ketogenic diet usually have an unpleasant breath. The smell can be described as fruity and sweet. This can be attributed to acetone, which is one of the most common ketones. The level of ketones is usually becoming high during ketosis, and the body’s way of eliminating it is through the mouth, hence the smell. In addition to this, people on the ketogenic diet might also have sweats and urine that taste and smell like fruity and sweet, just like acetone. However, this smell disappears just after a couple of weeks. This shouldn’t discourage anyone, as it is only a small price to pay to get your dream weight.
- Cramps: Some people on the ketogenic diet have also complained about pains and cramps in their lower limbs. This can be uncomfortable and has forced a lot of people to abandon the diet. This occurs mostly because of the low level of water in the body, as well as the reduced amount of body electrolytes. Glycogen, the storage unit of glucose in the body, in organs such as the muscles and liver, normally binds water. However, this reduces when you drastically lower your carbohydrate intake.
- Gastrointestinal problems: Abruptly changing the diet may cause some disturbance of the digestive system. One of the most common side effects of the keto diet is constipation. Some other people might also present with diarrhea. However, these symptoms usually leave after a few weeks.
- Increased heart rate: One of the adverse effects of having a high level of ketone bodies in the body is an elevation of the heart rate. This is also referred to as palpitation, and it mostly occurs in the first week of the diet. It is usually due to the low amount of water in the body alongside a reduced salt intake. Other factors that could contribute to this is coffee. If this condition persists, it’d be best to increase your intake of carbohydrate.
- Formation of renal stones: There have been cases of children developing renal stones as a result of the ketogenic diet. Dehydration also contributes largely to this.
How To Reduce The Effect Of The Dangers Of Keto Diet?
Below are some of the ways to reduce the dangers of the ketogenic diet;
- Consume a lot of water
- Try to add sufficient salt to your food
- Try to hydrate yourself regularly, when involved in high-intensity exercises
Kossoff, E. and Cross, J. (2012). Ketogenic diets: Where do we go from here?. Epilepsy Research, 100(3), pp.344-346.
Liu, Y. and Wang, H. (2013). Medium-chain Triglyceride Ketogenic Diet, An Effective Treatment for Drug-resistant Epilepsy and A Comparison with Other Ketogenic Diets. Biomedical Journal, 36(1), p.9.
Payne, N., Cross, J., Sander, J. and Sisodiya, S. (2011). The ketogenic and related diets in adolescents and adults-A review. Epilepsia, 52(11), pp.1941-1948.
Watkins, C. (2016). Prescribing dietary fat: therapeutic uses of ketogenic diets. INFORM International News on Fats, Oils, and Related Materials, 27(2), pp.6-11.