Not quite the ‘Keto’ a healthy physique

The popularity of the ketogenic diet has medical and clinical professionals concerned. They see the diet setting a dangerous trend for people looking for a fast fix to weight loss.

With a growing list of celebrity endorsers and a legion of devotees the ketogenic (keto for short) diet has become one of the most popular weight loss methods today, but medical experts are increasingly concerned about the impact this diet has on people’s overall health.

The diet takes its name from the word ketosis, which is the state the human body goes into when it burns fat. As the body burns fat it produces ketones, organic compounds, which muscles and other tissues use for fuel. The keto diet attempts to supercharge this process by restricting the amount of carbohydrates a person consumes resulting in the body turning to its fat stores for fuel.

“This is actually a fairly old diet,” said Lisa Bishop, a registered dietitian with Northeast Medical Group. “It was developed back in the 1920s to help children with epilepsy. The thing with keto is that it’s very easy to follow because you’re essentially restricting starchy vegetables and other carbohydrates. You’ll see success in terms of weight loss, but at what cost?”

High profile testimonials from celebrities like Al Roker, Halle Berry and Kourtney Kardashian add momentum to the diet’s rise in popularity. However medical experts warn that while initial results may seem impressive, dieters’ overall health may suffer in the long run.

The problem that medical experts see with the diet is its restrictive nature. Following a keto diet involves heavy restrictions on carbohydrates in the sugars, starches and fiber found in fruits, grains, vegetables and milk products. The result is dieters consume disproportionate amounts of protein and fat. The keto diet is very similar to a popular diet from several years ago called the Atkins diet. The similarities were pointed out by anti-keto advocate and celebrity trainer Jillian Michaels who told People Magazine that the keto diet is simply a re-packaging of the Atkins diet.

“This is not something you’d want to do long term,” Bishop said. “The restrictive nature of the diet leads to the body not getting enough fiber as well as some vitamins. We saw this with the Atkins back in the 1970s. It’s fine to reduce some carbs, but keto is too extreme and isn’t sustainable.”

Fad diets have come and gone for decades, but expert medical advice for losing weight has remained incredibly consistent. Physicians and dietitians continue to insist that a balanced diet of fresh foods, portion control and reasonable exercise is the key to healthy weight loss.

“Once you come off of keto, that weight will come right back,” Bishop said. “To eliminate all fruits except for berries, you’re cutting out a ton of great nutrients. It isn’t a very nutrient-dense diet. You want balance. A balanced diet with reasonable restrictions will see you reach your goals without sacrificing your health.”

To schedule an appointment with an NEMG dietitian call 203 371-7048.