Supporters of the keto diet praise quick results, rapid weight loss, and the simplicity of the program. (Hey, a diet that welcomes cheese and bacon—what’s not to love?) And the fact that the program doesn’t rely on counting calories has added appeal. While rapid weight loss does occur during periods of severe calorie restriction or carbohydrate restriction, this is largely due to the loss of water occurring as the body depletes its storage of glycogen. Glycogen is the body’s storage form of carbohydrate. Long-term weight loss likely results from the calorie restriction associated with a diet attempt.
But there are some concerns about the sustainability of the program for those using it for weight loss. “For many people, it doesn’t feel like a particularly sustainable diet because of it’s restrictive nature,” says Anne Pesek Taylor, clinical dietitian for University of Utah Health. “Since you are restricting fruits, many vegetables, grains, and sugar sources from your diet, it can be more challenging to eat socially, meet micronutrient intake recommendations, and to feel satisfied on an ongoing basis.”
Some Weighty Concerns
Some critics of the diet point out that the program’s restriction of certain foods is where the weight loss success lies rather than on the food we eat. And the fact that the program is high in fat yet doesn’t allow whole grains, fiber, and most fruits may aggravate other health conditions. While there is no long-term data on the risks, Taylor is concerned that a high-fat diet could raise LDL cholesterol levels, which increases the risk of heart disease or stroke. Also, there is the matter of maintaining a state of ketosis. “Being in ketosis long term could potentially lead to a level of acid in your blood that’s too high, called ketoacidosis,” says Taylor.