There’s a big buzz about ketogenic diet. So many people are going on this diet in an attempt to lose weight. On an average every day at least two people call me (sometimes more) asking for keto diet plans. And that scares me. My stance against ‘ALL” fad diets is clear - I don’t suggest or advice these at all, and I write against them all the time. That is because my idea of a workable and safe diet involves working on modifying the lifestyle, rather than restricting food choices. I am into ‘Habit Change’ and I am in fact a firm believer that ‘all’ foods can fit into a diet plan in different proportions.
That is why I have serious problem with the idea that Keto diets represents. My issues with the diet are rather straightforward and based on both common sense and logic.
It is important to know that Keto diet did not start as a weight-loss method. It was a treatment for epileptic kids (before it become trendy as a weight loss tool) and was advised as a medical treatment, intended to be administered only under the supervision of trained nutritionists and physicians in the clinical setting, so that they could carefully monitor and control insulin, blood sugar and ketoacidosis counts.
Also Keto is hard (it’s like a more extreme form of Atkins), and if you are not finding it hard, you are probably not doing it right. It is an incredibly strict diet and incorporates 60-75% fat, 15-30% protein, and 5-10% carbs - a ratio most people don’t get right.
Getting such a huge percentage of your calories from fat is actually difficult, and very unhealthy too. Plus the carbs restriction is insane; just a banana a day can get you that, and a single apple would get you past that limit. Also almost ever food we eat has some carb component in it - so who is doing the counting… plus why should one?
The protein balance is difficult to get right too. Most people end up eating more protein than what the diet stipulates, and the liver eventually breaks down the amino acids found in protein into sugar.
That is why very few people actually get it right and staying in true ketosis is exceptionally challenging for adults.
Supposing you do get it right somehow, then too there are some serious concerns about long-term safety of doing keto:
This diet is very easy to misunderstand and many consider it their ticket to eat hefty amounts of bacon and mayonnaise. So there’s a risk of ingesting an enormous amount of fat - and potentially a lot of saturated fat, if you’re eating animal meat - without any of the fat-burning effects of ketosis.
Restricting protein can also be a disaster as you need it to keep your muscles functioning and to build hair and nails and to manufacture hormones.
Plus this is clearly an “unbalanced" diet. You’re taking in almost no fruit and, unless one is extremely careful about eating a ton of leafy green vegetables, the fibre intake is dangerously low. Plus one is bound to miss out on some essential nutrients.
And without the required fibre your gut enzymes get shortchanged too, leading to constipation in the short term and bigger repercussions in the long term.
And here’s another scary bit. Reports are now showing that such low carb diets (like keto and many other) may come at an incredibly steep price – weight loss in exchange for lifespan.
Studies are pointing to a higher risk of cardiovascular health, and an increased mortality rate. It is up to you what do you deem to be the most important in your life?
Finally I feel even though a person may lose weight just because of the radical shift in what one eats when on a keto, this regime is very hard (and dangerous) to maintain for long periods of time. And somehow even if you do manage, the moment you get off it (which you eventually will), the weight is bound to come back. And you’ll be back to square one - and saddled with not just the excess weight (that has come back) but also a far unhealthier body that you began with. Go figure!
My suggestion is: stop running after keto or other stringent diets, focus instead at eating better, and you can still knock off the weight, albeit in a more palatable and healthy way.
(The writer is a nutritionist, weight management consultant and health writer based in Delhi. She is the author of Don't Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People (Jaico) and Ultimate Grandmother Hacks: 50 Kickass Traditional Habits for a Fitter You (Rupa).)
(This story was auto-published from a syndicated feed. No part of the story has been edited by The Quint.)
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