You have seen and heard about the keto diet. You see ads on social media. You see celebrities raving about it. You heard about keto from your friend who is on it. The ketogenic diet seems like it’s the hot diet topic of the decade. You start to think: “hmmm, should I try kept as well?”

Before you go on the ketogenic diet, make sure you educate yourself on this way of eating. I will share some information here, but research is important for you to make an informed decision.

The History of Keto

The original idea for the keto diet is not new. In fact, the foundational thinking for what became kept started in the 1910s through the 1920s. Physicians were confounded on how to best treat patients with epilepsy. They tried all types of treatments including restrictive diets. These physicians experimented with restricting animal and vegetable foods and even certain minerals.Through this research some physicians found that intermittent fasting over several days helped ease epileptic symptoms. That occurred in 1921!

At the same time, a few physicians recognized that total fasting can not be sustainable over time. The same physicians hypothesized that epileptic seizures could be better controlled when the body relies on ketones for fuel. Patients achieved “ketosis” by restricting carbohydrates and eating more fat. For a long time (1941-1980), this diet pattern was recognized as a suitable treatment for epilepsy. Once anti epileptic drug were developed and became mainstream, the ketogenic diet was used less and less to treat epilepsy. At the current time, the ketogenic diet is used as a last resort in treating epilepsy.

The ketogenic diet had faded into the background by the 2000s. Dateline on NCB aired a segment on how the ketones diet helped treat a 2-year-old boy named Charlie with epilepsy. Following this national telecast, several TV shows and instructional videos highlighted the diet to the mainstream media.  The mass popularity of this diet can be traced back to the original TV coverage.

What Makes Keto Unique?

So what exactly is the keto diet? How does it result in weight loss for the user? It all begins with how our body processes energy. Our body is a fantastic machine that has the ability to burn fuel in multiple ways. The type of fuel the body uses depends on (1) the type of fuel available from food and store nutrients and (2) how quickly the body needs that fuel to function. Normally, our bodies run off the fuel they receive from the carbohydrates we eat. Carbohydrates have always been and continue to be the preferred fuel sources for our bodies. Carbs are easily digested and offer quality energy over time.

The ketogenic diet restricts carbohydrates and favors fats for energy. To achieve ketosis, an individual will eat a minimal amount of carbs, enough protein for their weight, and the rest will be fats. The body then does not have enough carbs from food to meet its energy needs each day to function. The body begins to process fats as its main source of energy. A ketone is formed as the byproduct of fats used for energy.  Hence, we say the body is in a state of ketosis.

How Do I Follow this Diet?

So what does one eat for a ketogenic diet? The diet plan consists of vegetables including greens, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, peppers, onions, mushrooms, and asparagus.  You are allowed lean proteins such as chicken, fish, turkey, lean pork, and lean beef. The rest of the diet will include fats such as butter, nuts, seeds, olive oil, avocado, and tofu.

What is restricted in the keto diet? Basically anything that has a high amount of carbohydrates. Therefore, and individual needs to limit or totally restrict breads, starches, dairy, and fruits. Because of this, the diet is difficult to follow and even more difficult to maintain.

Are There Any Associated Risks?

While weight loss is the main target outcome to use the ketones diet, there are some other unintended situations that may occur. Some risks include nutritional deficiencies, constipation, liver problems, kidney problems, fuzzy thinking, and mood swings. The body experiences a “keto flu” during the first few days as it adjusts to the new fuel source. Symptoms include headaches, irritability, fatigue, mood swings, and difficulty concentrating.


Bottom line: weigh the benefits and risks with keto. Do your homework extensively. Identify a plan that keeps vegetables, proteins, and fats varied. Decide if the risks are worth losing weight quickly. Understand that this diet is not sustainable over long periods of time. If you make a decision, plan to follow the diet for only a few weeks at a time. Better yet? Employ a dietitian. We can create a plan personalized to you that will be simple, effective, and sustainable over time. Good luck!


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