What's the deal with the Keto diet?

The Ketogenic, or Keto, diet is a low-calorie, high-fat diet that has risen to recent popularity with the assistance of celebrity endorsements and social media.  This diet, however, may not be a healthy long-term option. The Keto diet emphasizes a low-calorie, low-carb, high-fat diet. The primary objective of the diet is to put your body in ketosis, which is a metabolic process in which we use fat for energy instead of sugar. Our body’s preferred energy source is carbohydrates. The Keto diet, however, forces our body to use fats instead. The diet has been used as medical nutrition therapy for those with neurological conditions but only under strict supervision.


While the Keto diet often results in initial weight loss, dietitians warn that this initial loss may be due to the loss of water weight. Additionally, there are several potential health concerns related to the diet that include constipation, increase in LDL “bad” cholesterol, increased risk for chronic disease, and the long-term impact on the heart is unknown. There have been several studies in support of the Keto diet for weight loss, however, the diet comes with several downsides and there is not enough research on the long-term effects on our body from eating a high-fat diet. The Keto diet can also be rather difficult to follow and adhere to.

So what kind of diet is recommended? Dietitians suggest cutting back on ultra-processed, high carb foods (e.g., sugary beverages) and refined grains. They recommend that you eat nutritious carbs such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, low-fat dairy, and 100% whole grains. They note that there are effective diets that have strong research and evidence supporting short-term and long-term effects, such as the Mediterranean Diet.

While the Keto diet may lead to initial weight loss, adherence can be difficult and negative long-term health benefits are unknown. The diet may increase your risk of diabetes, heart attack, and stroke. Further, more beneficial, evidence-support diets are available (e.g., Mediterranean Diet). The Healthy Lifestyle Center can help by providing healthy lifestyle consultations specific to nutrition and diet. We an assist with providing support for adhering to a healthy diet and supporting long-term health.

By Matt Lewandowski

Sources: Ketogenic Diets are B.S. for Weight Loss – Here’s Why. Jaclyn London, MS, RD, CDN – Good Housekeeping Institute – July 20, 2018; The 5 Most Common Arguments for the KetoDiet, Debunked. Jaclyn London, MS, RD, CDN – Good Housekeeping Institute – August 28, 2018;  Beuno, N., de Melo, I., de Oliveira, S., & da Rocha Ataide, T. (2013). Very-low-carb Ketogenicdiet v. low-fat diet for long-term weight loss: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. British Journal of Nutrition, 110(7), 1178-1187.; Lima, P., de Brito Sampaio, L., & Damasceno, N. (2015). Ketogenicdiet in epileptic children: Impact on lipoproteins and oxidative stress. Nutritional Neuroscience, 18(8), 337-344. Photo by Donald Giannatti on Unsplash. Photo by Caroline Attwood on Unsplash