Keto diet: proceed with caution

A ketogenic diet for beginners.

The ketogenic diet uses sources of energy other than carbohydrates and glucose to fuel the body. Its goal is to use ketone, which is produced by liver from stored fat, as the body’s main source of fuel. This is known as ketosis, and to achieve it, one must deprive themself of carbohydrates for a few days and eat a controlled amount of protein (because an excess consumption of protein will interfere with ketosis). By using stored fat as the body’s source of energy, fat is shed and people see fat-loss results.

It is very common for people to “cut carbs” or deprive themselves of food that is high in fats, glucose or carbohydrates to see results quicker. The keto diet markets to these people, and there are many of them. According to CNN, “On Instagram, dieters share their progress. Accounts with tens of thousands of followers show before and after weight loss photos and snaps of keto-friendly meals.” The keto diet has boomed because people want to see weight loss results and they want them quickly.

The keto boom has created a new era for weight loss by raising awareness of the effect of carbs on weight loss. Keto depicts carbs or sugar-heavy foods as the enemy of weight loss, and this message spreads like wildfire thanks to social media.

With its rising popularity, however, there are more critics of the keto diets. While keto may seem like the most effective diet to many, it may not be the healthiest weight-loss method and it may not be effective in the long run. There is a reason sugar and carbohydrates are on the food pyramid, so eliminating them completely will inevitably affect bodily functions. First of all, the brain needs glucose to focus on tasks, so cutting carbs will hinder focus. Additionally, “Healthy sources of carbohydrates, such as higher fiber starchy foods, vegetables, fruits and legumes, are also an important source of nutrients, such as calcium, iron and B vitamins. Significantly reducing carbohydrates from your diet in the long term could put you at increased risk of insufficient intakes of certain nutrients, potentially leading to health problems,” according to the National Health service of England website.

It should be obvious that completely cutting foods out of your diet can have negative consequences, so it is surprising to see the keto diet become so popular. This diet has been able to convince the public that the imbalanced elimination of food group is actually healthy. Contrary to what keto preaches, “There's not enough evidence that foods that contain wheat are any more likely to cause weight gain than any other food,” the NHS website continued.

Because deprivation diets are known for their quick results, those results seldom last in the long run. It is very common to regain weight after getting off the keto diet because after being deprived of a food group for so long, it is difficult to reintroduce those food groups in a balanced way. “Unfortunately, keto diets are probably more prone than many others to end with weight regain because they can be hard to stick to in the long run... And being in ketosis for more than a few weeks might not be best for overall health,” according to Live Science.

When evaluating a weight loss plan, it is easy to only consider the results and short-term efficiency of a diet, but considering potential health risks and long-term effects is imperative to knowing whether or not a diet works, and whether you should try it.


Keren Blaunstein is a weekly columnist for The Daily Campus.  She can be reached via email at keren.blaunstein@uconn.edu.