A diet thought to be perfect for weight loss, keto may be more dangerous than you think.
Everywhere you turn these days, it seems someone is talking about the “keto” or ketogenic diet. There’s even supplements to help the body go into ketosis. And while the keto diet may seem like a new breakthrough, it’s actually been around for about 100 years. It’s been used by doctors to help those with morbid obesity to lose weight fast when their lives are at risk. Some athletes have also taken advantage of it.
So what is the keto diet?
The keto diet is very low-carb and high in fat. Essentially, instead of burning carbs, like from potatoes, bread and pasta, it makes you burn your body’s fat. Doesn’t sound too bad does it? In the short term, it may not be. But there are a number of dangers. The keto diet is based on what your body naturally does after a meal – produce ketones. Ketones help burn fat. The idea of the keto diet is to make your body produce massive amounts of ketones, thus burning fat. Anytime the body produces too much of something, we pretty much always end up with some kind of problem.
The dangers of the keto diet
Ketoacidosis: This is when your body starts burning too much fat really fast. It often happens to diabetics. If you’re a type 1 or 2 diabetic the keto diet is extremely dangerous for you (except for some type 2 diabetics.) It’s less common and less severe for type 2 diabetics, but it can happen. In ketoacidosis your liver starts creating way too much sugar, so you can see where that leads.
Causes imbalances: Producing too many ketones leads to poor intake of minerals and salts. This can lead to dehydration and a lack of minerals wreaks havoc on your body as well.
Heart issues: Poor electrolyte balance, less minerals, high burning of fats. This can place significant stress on your heart. Such a strain puts you at risk of stroke and other heart diseases.
When the keto diet is good
Doctors have been using the keto diet for over a century. It has proven to help reduce epileptic seizures and is being studied for its effects on Alzheimers and Parkinsons as well. For some type 2 diabetics it can help reduce blood sugars, but only for the short term, not as a long-term regular diet.
Here’s what’s key about this though. A doctor prescribed and monitored keto diet is critical. Doctors usually use the keto diet for the short term, maybe a few to six months at a time. Patients can be closely monitored and well supervised. And that’s when the keto diet can be good. Here’s some more information from Harvard University medical school. (will add link)
Should you take keto supplements?
Our short answer is a very emphatic no. Especially if you’re in your late 40’s and early 50’s or older. Unless prescribed by a physician or natural doctor for specific health reasons such as morbid obesity. These supplements are filled with risk and many have been shown to have little to no effect anyway. Keep in mind there is little government regulation in Canada for such supplements. If you’re determined to go keto, go with the diet and see below for what you should probably do.
How to approach the keto diet
If you decide you want to try it, talk to your doctor first. She can help you better understand the risks. You may want to take a blood test for minerals, blood sugars and kidney health as well as heart health. The best way to look at the keto diet is for medical purposes, not just a “I wanna lose some weight” desire.
Do your research and really think about if this truly is the right diet for you. For most people, just a healthy diet that brings together the right foods for your body, eaten in the right portion along with an appropriate amount of exercise can be the best way to lose weight.
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