Dieting fads come and go. The keto diet is no different. While it has actually been around since the 1920s as a way to control epilepsy in children, the dramatic diet has experienced something of a revolution in recent years – with celebs and more jumping on board and cutting out carbs as a result.
But recent studies have shown that, for most people, the keto diet may do more harm than good.
What is the ketogenic diet?
Put simply, a keto diet is a very low-carb, high-fat diet. If you follow this diet, you strip your carb intake down to the bare minimum and replace them with more butter, bacon and avocado. The idea is that the body uses fat for fuel in a process called ketosis – so if you’re eating more fat, your body stays in a constant state of ketosis, or fat-burning.
But what the diet fails to recognise is that carbohydrates play an important role in the human diet. Not only are they an excellent source of energy, but they’re packed with fibre to keep your bowels regular. Carbs also contain other essential nutrients and minerals your body needs.
As it says on healthdirect, “Evidence shows that the diet may be suitable for some people with certain medical conditions but should not be used for the general population, or as a long-term diet.”
What are the risks of a keto diet?
The keto diet can be too high in saturated fats, too low in fibre and lacking essential vitamins and minerals. The result? A higher risk of heart disease, chronic diseases and bowel problems, including bowel cancer.
As well as those long term risks, a keto diet can leave you tired, constipated, nauseous, dizzy, dehydrated and more.
And if you switch back to a normal diet following a period of weight loss on the keto diet? You’re highly like to regain weight, fast.
What else could I try?
If you had been thinking about trying the keto diet but are now realising that it might not be best for you, then you’ve still got great options. The Mediterranean diet is always held up as a great example of a balanced, nutritious diet for most people; or, simply, a standard low-fat diet that includes all the food groups in recommended proportions.
Pair your diet with regular exercise and it might be all you need to achieve your weight-loss or wellbeing goals. If you’re ever unsure about which route to take, you could consider making an appointment with a qualified dietitian – they will be able to help you implement a diet that’s right for you.