The ketogenic diet has been around for years, but its popularity has reemerged.

The diet is a high fat, moderate protein, and low carbohydrate eating plan.

It has gained support from best-selling books and celebrities, bodybuilders, and athletes.

Many of them rave about the diet’s benefits claiming that you can see immediate and substantial weight loss, build muscle, and experience relief from chronic illnesses.

However, some scientists aren’t convinced. They need more evidence of its long-term effects to recommend the diet.

The Keto Diet

The keto diet focuses more on the types of foods consumed rather than restricting the amounts of food.

According to researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the diet divvies up macronutrients, so people receive 55-60% fat, 30-35% protein, and 5-10% carbohydrates.

They have a 2000 caloric daily intake and consume no more than 50 grams of carbs a day.

The plan restricts bread, grains, and cereals and limits fruits and vegetables.

However, it consists of meals that can include eggs, seafood, meat, poultry, broccoli, cauliflower, and raspberries.

The diet can also be altered to a vegan, vegetarian, or pescatarian version.

The keto diet starves the body of carbohydrates setting off specific metabolic processes — reserves of insulin secretion decrease.

As a result, the storage of fat and glucose lessens, and the central nervous system looks for alternative sources of energy.

The liver produces ketone bodies in small amounts as the fats are broken down.

The production of the ketones depends on an individual’s resting basal metabolic rate, body mass index, and body fat percentage, so the amount of ketones varies from person to person.

The ketone bodies produce adenosine triphosphate, also known as ATP, or the “super fuel.”

The ketones lower free radical damage and increase antioxidant capacity.

The body will use the ketones to produce energy for the heart, muscle tissues, kidneys, and brain.

Ultimately, the ketogenic diet supports the efficient burning of fat and reduced blood sugar levels.

The Evolution of the Keto Diet

During the 1920s, Dr. Russell Wilder, Sr. made many clinical research contributions in the areas of nutrition and metabolism, including designing the classic ketogenic diet and coining the term “ketogenic diet.”

At that time, the classic version of the diet was considered a therapeutic diet for pediatric epilepsy.

Since the absorption of glucose stops, inflammatory genes are suppressed, which reduces inflammation in the brain.

Now, nearly a century later, the diet has evolved and resulted in several versions.

The Indian Journal of Medical Research discusses four types of eating patterns:

1. The standard diet of low carbohydrates: an average amount of protein, and high fat

2. The cyclical diet: which allows high amounts of carbohydrates on occasion between ketogenic diet cycles

3. The targeted diet: that includes additional carbohydrates during times of intense physical workout

4. The high-protein ketogenic diet: which increases the amount of protein as well as fat.

Scientists began noticing additional benefits besides reduced inflammation in the brain.

For instance, the reduction in glucose decreased the need for diabetes medications.

They also saw positive changes in weight, heart health, and LDL cholesterol levels.

Dieters’ appetites suppressed and their blood pressure lowered.

Dieters that seemed to benefit the most on a short-term plan included diabetics and people with high triglycerides in their blood.

Risks Associated With Keto Dieting

Although the diet has positive benefits, such as reducing inflammation in the brain, warding off Alzheimer’s disease, and managing diabetes, researchers are paying attention to its risks.

In the short-term, a period of two years or less, dieters can experience flu-like symptoms that include an upset stomach, fatigue, and headaches.

These symptoms are known as the “keto flu.”

People may also experience bad breath, confusion, dehydration, difficulty sleeping, cramps, and mood swings.

They can also experience changes in bowel habits and constipation as a result of cutting back on high-fiber fruits and vegetables.

Dieters who stay on the diet longer can encounter more dangerous symptoms that can increase morbidity and mortality.

These symptoms include kidney stones, bone loss, blood acidosis, liver disease, hypoglycemia, and vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

The diet can lead to low fertility and irregular menstrual cycles.

Researchers advise people with certain ailments not to participate in the diet, such as individuals with pancreatitis, fat metabolism disorders, thyroid issues, gallbladder disorders or a removed gallbladder.

Considerations and Recommendations for Keto

Despite some downsides, the diet has been associated with the prevention of several health conditions.

In clinical settings, it has been used for patients with epilepsy, cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes.

The diet is restrictive and consists of several protocols and regimens, and when it’s not managed well, it can put dieters at risk for side effects like dehydration and kidney stones.

As a result, people considering the diet should also take into account pregnancy, breastfeeding, and chronic conditions.

Dieters should consult with their physician, and upon approval, enlist the help of health experts like nutritionists and dieticians for planning, monitoring and controlling the diet.

The experts should look at blood glucose and ketone levels, heart performance, and other essential health measures, either once or twice a month.

Keto Diet Tips

Here are some tips to help avoid health risks and experience the benefits from the keto diet:

● Make sure to drink plenty of water to support the metabolic processes, prevent dehydration, and encourage the circulation of nutrients so symptoms like the keto-flu are avoided.

● Consuming too much dairy can counter the positive effects of the diet, especially when you consider how some milk contains a lot of sugar.

● Eating not just more fats but the right fats so your metabolism, hormones and metabolic processes function well.

● Limit snacking so you don’t end up with excess calories.

● Make sure to get between seven and eight hours of sleep, so your body can do necessary repairs.

● Keep in mind that depending on the dieter’s health condition, the diet may or may not work.

The response to the diet will vary but people most often experience frequent urination, changes in bowel movements, and a drop in energy levels before rising again.

A new trend combines intermittent fasting with the keto diet.

Intermittent fasting is a cyclic eating method for weight loss that combines uninterrupted periods of fasting and normal eating.

Its benefits include reduced inflammation, improved brain function, and controlled blood sugar.

While studies for this dieting approach are lacking, proponents of the trend claim that combining the two diets lets the body digest heavy meals and use the nutrients that are ingested.

It can help dieters reach ketosis faster and drop body fat.

Some side effects include nausea. Scientists are concerned that it can be dangerous for people with certain health conditions, such as chronic kidney disease, so make sure to consult a healthcare practitioner.

Keto Diet Conclusion

Some scientists are apprehensive about recommending the diet.

They argue that many of the results they are seeing are similar to diets that include more carbohydrates.

The restricted approach makes it difficult for people to stay on the diet and leaves out nutrients that would benefit the cardiovascular system.

Ket diets may be appropriate for short term periods but not as a way of life.

Therefore, scientists encourage more long-term studies to understand the risks further and verify the benefits.

Several research studies are underway.


Francis Rogers Palmer III, M.D.

A world-renowned expert on aesthetics and facial shaping, Francis Rogers Palmer III, MD is a board-certified facial plastic surgeon with over 27 years of experience and author. He is an inventor of multiple medical products and devices. Dr. Palmer is an honors graduate of San Diego State University, and received his MD from the University of California – Irvine. He completed fellowships with the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, and the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery.Dr. Palmer has appeared on ABC’s The View, CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox News, Dr. Phil, and Entertainment Tonight. He also has been featured in Allure, Fit, USA Today, Cosmopolitan, US Weekly, People, In Touch, The New York and Los Angeles Times. British magazine Tatler named him “one of the world’s best plastic surgeons.” He is the author of The Palmer Code, What’s Your Number? ®.

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