Heavy duty planning and plenty of willpower may be necessary for success on the keto diet

Brandi Vesco, Health Source
Published 2:18 p.m. PT July 12, 2018

What began as nutrition therapy for certain seizure disorders has morphed into one of today’s trendiest weight-loss plans — the keto diet. Aside from its medical use for the management of severe or medication-resistant seizures, following a ketogenic diet has become popular among people looking to drop body fat fast. However, using this diet for weight loss does have drawbacks, such as the need for detailed planning and tracking and the potential for certain health risks.

“A ketosis diet is high in fat, low in carbohydrate and includes adequate, not increased, amounts of protein. Its purpose is to force the body to use fat instead of glucose for energy,” said Sarah Trinajstich, RD, LD, a clinical dietitian at Northern Nevada Medical Center. “This diet is not just low carb. It requires that you also stick to specific amounts of fat and protein in a defined ratio.”

By setting precise limits on these three main macronutrients, the keto diet aims to push the body into ketosis, a state in which fat must be used for fuel rather than glucose. Achieving ketosis is key to the fairly fast weight loss associated with this diet.

“When the body is using fatty acids for fuel instead of glucose, the body will start breaking down fat stores,” said Kelcie Atkin, RD, LD, CDE, a clinical dietitian with Renown Health Improvement Programs. “Hence the idea of using the ketogenic diet for weight-management purposes.”

Although the state of ketosis can help people shed pounds, a keto diet followed incorrectly and taken to the extreme can pose serious health risks, such as the development of a potentially lethal condition called ketoacidosis

“Ketosis tips the acid-base balance of the body to be more acidic, which can lead to serious health consequences,” Trinajstich said. “Due to the potential health risks, a doctor and dietitian should supervise the initiation and continuation of the ketogenic diet, which is common practice when being used for seizure control.”

Don’t go it alone

Having professional guidance on a keto diet can help in other ways as well. For the average dieter, the planning, tracking and willpower required to reach and stay in a state of ketosis can be a big burden to take on alone.

“To truly be in ketosis, you need to ensure you are consuming carbohydrates, fats and proteins all in the right ratios or amounts by keeping close calculations,” Atkin said. “Too many carbohydrates, too much protein or not enough fat can all prevent the body from achieving a ketogenic state.

“Because the diet requires diligent monitoring, diet planning and is very restrictive in nature, it is not recommended at this time for long-term use for weight management, but rather to be used for a shorter period of time or until the desired amount of weight has been lost,” Atkin added. “Once weight-loss goals have been achieved, it is important to then gradually transition back to a diet with a normal, healthy balance of carbohydrates, fats and proteins.”

 

 

 

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