The Keto Question

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The Keto Question

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Fad diets constantly fall in and out of style, and sometimes it’s hard to find information that tells the truth. One of the most popular diets circulating social media today is the Ketogenic diet – a diet based around consumption of fats and proteins instead of carbohydrates. On paper, this diet is a great solution for fat-loss as it switches the body’s main source of energy from glucose (carb) to key tones (energy made from fat cells), but is it actually healthy?

Eating a diet that mainly consists of fats and proteins switches the body into a state of ketosis. “[Ketosis is] a metabolic state characterized by raised levels of ketone bodies in the body tissues, which is typically pathological in conditions such as diabetes, or may be the consequence of a diet that is very low in carbohydrates” (Dictionary.com). Insulin is often used to treat patients with diabetes to avoid prolonged ketosis, as it means that they cannot absorb and use the sugar in their bloodstream. If people take insulin to get out of ketosis, why on earth would anyone try to enter ketosis? Well, as stated on Dr. Axe, “Rather than relying on counting calories, limiting portion sizes, resorting to extreme exercise or requiring lots of willpower (even in the face of drastically low energy levels), the ketogenic, low-carb diet takes an entirely different approach to weight loss and health improvements.” The diet’s main draw is the fact that you don’t have to control your portion sizes as strictly as you would if you were still consuming carbohydrates. By switching your metabolism from burning carbs to fats, you don’t have to be afraid of eating fatty foods. In fact, it’s quite the opposite; the more fat you eat, the better.

While in the short term, this diet gives quite promising results, it comes with a slurry of side effects. As stated in Women’s Health Magazine, “There are a lot of warnings about possible side effects as your body transitions during ketosis sometime between day three and day seven. The most common side effects are constipation, flu-like symptoms in the first few days, reduced physical performance, and bad breath that smells like nail polish remover.” Switching a fundamental bodily process is unnatural, and can often bring about a lot of strange changes in one’s body. A week long trial of this diet not only results in some unfortunate bowel issues and bad breath, but if someone continues to eat keto for a long period of time, it can result in more severe health problems. “Some animal research points to potential problems like nonalcoholic fatty liver disease from long-term adherence to the diet” (Everyday Health).

So, why look further into the Ketogenic diet? Well, as stated by the health organization The Truth About Cancer, “With ketogenic diets, lowering carbohydrates will reduce your levels of glucose, the fuel that feeds cancer cells. This will put your body into ketosis and will assist in depleting cancer cells of their energy supply.” Cancer cells, like all other cells in the human body, are mainly fueled by carbs. What cancer cells cannot do as easily as the other cells in the human body is switch their fuel source. By putting cancer patients on a cycled ketogenic diet, researchers have found an improved rate of recovery and a fewer percentage of patients with a return of their cancer. The diet starves the malignant cells, and can help treat this disease.

While the main goal of fad diets may be fat loss, few people actually stop to consider what medical merit they may hold. The body is an amazing thing that can adapt and change to help you survive in any situation, and sometimes scientists find ways to hack already existing states of health to help cure a variety of diseases. So, should you try the ketogenic diet? Well, if you don’t have a pressing medical disease, you really don’t have to. This diet can stunt growth and hormonal maturation, and can result in a lot of unpleasant side effects. At the end of the day, you should always do your research before you try something new that affects your body.