A Cautious Take on the Popular Keto Diet

| Posted On Jul 06, 2020 | By:

pie chart of keto diet food group amountsYou may have heard about the ketogenic, or “keto,” diet. Some people liken it to the Atkins diet of the past given both are low-carb diets. The keto diet is quite different from Atkins, however,  as it does not emphasize high consumption of protein. Instead, the keto diet is extremely low-carb, moderate in protein, and very high in fat. It is designed to put the body into a state called ketosis. Normally, your body runs on blood glucose (sugar) for energy; in ketosis, your body instead converts fat into an alternative fuel called ketones.

The keto diet is actually not a new diet. In the early 1900’s, it was used as an effective treatment for epilepsy and is still sometimes recommended for use today in hard-to-treat epilepsy cases.

The good news is that the keto diet has been shown in some short-term research studies to improve not just weight loss, but also insulin resistance, blood pressure, and high cholesterol. People who try it report that they don’t feel as hungry as they do on other diets.

However, there are risks involved in this diet, and it is not for everyone. Here are some concerns:

Low fiber intake, in particular, is of concern because we don’t yet know how following the keto diet might affect your gut microbiome (the balance of bacteria living in your intestines). We are learning more and more about how important gut flora (bacteria) are for health. Fiber is needed to feed those gut flora and to keep your digestive tract healthy.

If you are committed to trying the keto diet, I would suggest the following:

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About Catherine Lukas, RD, MS, LDN, CDE

Catherine is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator who joined Atrius Health in 2019. She enjoys working collaboratively with patients to help them make sustainable diet and lifestyle changes to support their health goals. She is especially interested in weight management, diabetes education, and managing irritable bowel syndrome. Catherine sees patients in our Chelmsford, Beverly, and Peabody locations.