What is a good diet? Is it good if it makes you lose weight? Perhaps it’s considered a great diet if you drop weight rapidly or does that harm us in ways we don’t even consider? These are some of the questions we will be asking through this research paper on the Ketogenic diet and whether or not it is actually all that good for us. In today’s society there is pressure coming from all around us with celebrities, magazines, the media, and the news all supporting the ideal expectation that everyone is supposed to be either super skinny or have a full curvy figure to show off. Diets are a never ending subject at the work place, online, in the mall, almost anywhere you go there are always, “Get Skinny Quick!” ads or fat burning capsules that promote the ever elusive flat stomach.
Although most people look at these ads and some choose to believe them and others say it’s a scam do we ever really see any real results? Not everyone is built this way naturally and the expectation about what kind of body women are supposed to have is hurting our generation and society of younger women in America. I think we should support and promote all body types but also promote healthy food options with lower cost of fresh organic produce without any kind of preservatives and also build fast food drive thru’s that only have healthy options. I know some of these ideas have already started to happen and it’s only a matter of time before everyone everywhere realizes that a healthy diet is essential to a healthy lifestyle.
A balanced and healthy lifestyle according to professionals is to include a fitness routine and healthy eating habits filled with nutrients for your body. I agree with this observation but for many people in the world it is difficult for them to maintain this kind of lifestyle between work, kids, school, and daily issues that arise. While these concerns may present as obstacles we still try to lose weight by trying various options. Many have had success with different diets but how healthy can some of these diets be for us and what are the possible risks associated with them? The Ketogenic diet seems to be a fast growing ‘fad diet’ out there on the market today and even though it is boasted to have quick and effective results but, we still don’t really know what happens to our body when it goes through the ketosis stage. There are a lot of diets to choose from like the Atkins diet, or Weight Watchers but results from the Ketogenic approach are making an impression. While some people believe a strict exercise regime is the key to losing weight, others believe diet is the answer. I believe that both exercise and healthy eating habits are the key to a healthy and balanced lifestyle. There has been little research to show beneficial results on the Keto diet concerning the physiological effects it has on the human body. This is one of the main concerns since so many people are continuing this dieting fad and not knowing the potential harm it could have on their health.
What Can the Keto Diet Do For Your Health
The keto diet is perhaps a good diet for slimming down in a short period of time. I think that it can be good for everyone to try different diets and see how your body reacts to each one till you find a diet or eating habit that seems to have a beneficial effect on your body. What has made the keto diet so popular is its known effects to spur weight loss at a rapid pace just in time for that cruise that was planned six months ago. “The keto diet was created by Dr. Gianfranco Cappello, an associate professor of surgery at the Sapienza University in Rome, Italy. He claims great success among thousands of users. In his study, more than 19,000 dieters experienced significant, rapid weight loss, few side effects, and most kept the weight off after a year”(Seegert, 2016).
Seegert’s statement provides a solid base for reassurance to anyone second guessing trying this diet, but many people haven’t considered other benefits that this diet could have on brain function. Some cases where patients were put on the ketogenic diet, have been linked to reducing the amount of seizures in children and adults almost as effectively as medications. With this new found evidence it has caused many professionals to ask other questions concerning the effects a low-carb, high-fat diet could have on brain function and disorders in patients with Alzheimer’s, brain cancer, Parkinson’s, and even sleep disorders. Of course the questions and research doesn’t just stop there, while conducting my own personal research I interviewed some co-workers who participate in the keto diet. I choose to interview four people because they had all been on the keto diet for almost the same amount of time and while everyone had different effects the majority had experienced these similar results – weight loss of 10+ pounds, reduction in acne, overall better skin, appetite, and increased energy (after getting past the first week or so). While these results don’t show any results the diet has on the physiological effects it does show effectiveness in weight loss which is the primary reason most people use the Ketogenic diet for faster weight loss results on a low-carb diet than compared to someone on a more traditional low-fat diet. While outside effects are more noticeable we still wonder what internal effects the keto diet has:
“A ketogenic diet also has been shown to improve blood sugar control for patients with type 2 diabetes, at least in the short term. There is even more controversy when we consider the effect on cholesterol levels. A few studies show some patients have increase in cholesterol levels in the beginning, only to see cholesterol fall a few months later. However, there is no long-term research analyzing its effects over time on diabetes and high cholesterol” (Campos, 2018).
The above statement just shows how controversial the keto diet still is since there has been very little research using human trials, so far animal trials have been the main source for research on the keto diet, which I don’t agree with using animals as experimental subjects, so this brings us all to a point where we must consider all aspects of how a diet could affect your bodily functions not only for people who want to lose a few pounds but also for obese individuals. “The American Heart Association (AHA), American College of Cardiology, and the Obesity Society have concluded that there is not enough evidence to suggest that low-carbohydrate diets such as the ketogenic diet provide health benefits to the human heart and other bodily functions” (Mclntosh, 2017). Mclntosh’s statement makes us question how and why it is not healthy and what are the risk involved?
What the Keto Diet Won’t Do for Your Health
I believe that no diet can or should be a long term solution and eventually you have to come off of the diet because of denying your body certain nutrients that are fundamental for the human body to be able to function properly. Some of these important functions that are affected by the keto diet include loss of sleep, fatigue, and lack of energy that can possibly be experienced while on the keto diet. Obviously lack of sleep is already a huge issue for humans because a large portion of individuals suffer from insomnia on a regular basis, so maybe this is just one sign that the keto diet isn’t right for you. From what little research there is Iacovides and Meiring state that:
“The majority of studies have been conducted in obese and/or overweight individuals or on animal test subjects. In healthy, non-obese men who were good sleepers, a Keto diet increases slow-wave sleep and decreases rapid-eye-movement sleep compared to a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet. Studies investigating the effect of the Keto diet on sleep, however, are limited by their study populations and small sample sizes” (Iacovides & Meiring 2018).
As the popularity of following a Keto diet increases, scientist and researchers are questioning the long term and possibly harmful effects on the body but, due to little research we do not know much about its long-term effects. The Keto diet is not known for its easy menu, it is hard to follow and it can be heavy on red meat and other fatty, processed, and salty foods that are notoriously unhealthy therefore it can only be maintained for a short period of time. Diets like the Keto are also considered “yo-yo diets” according to Campos (2018), and the diet can cause multiple up’s and down’s in the metabolic system which causes a rapid fluctuation in weight and can lead to dangerous health hazards like ketoacidosis. There are also hazards associated to your heart muscles when on the keto diet. The one interviewee I found that had to come off the keto diet due to it causing heart issues claimed it was progressing his heart disease due to the high fat content. While he lost a significant amount of weight his doctors had recommended for him to try the Mediterranean diet instead. There are other dangers that are connected with the keto diet concerning starvation:
“For starters, most of the lost weight is water weight”, according to Lisa Cimperman, R.D.N., a clinical dietitian at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio, and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Once your body enters ketosis, you also begin to lose muscle, become extremely fatigued, and eventually enter starvation mode. Then it actually becomes even harder to lose weight, Cimperman told Healthline” (Seegert, 2018).
Obviously starvation is not the key to a healthy lifestyle, anything under 1,200 calories a day is considered starvation and a keto diet will do more harm than good for the majority of non-obese individuals in a long-term situation. “The diet also doesn’t get rave reviews from US News & World Report, which relies on a panel of medical experts to rank 40 diets. Coming in at No. 39 (that’s tied for last place) in the 2018 list of Best Diets Overall” (Migala, 2018). This observation by Migala makes the popular Keto diet lower on the list than the Mediterranean diet because of the little amount of research on whether Keto helps or harms people with heart conditions, diabetes, liver, or kidney disease and because the keto diet cuts out a lot of grains, fruits, and other nutrients that is good for heart health.
We still have awhile to go on gathering all the information and research to make a valid and logical decision as to whether or not the Keto diet is right for us. The best we can do for now is to make smart and wise decisions by not trying to push our bodies to the point of starvation and Ketoacidosis. As stated in my paper the ketogenic diet isn’t a miracle diet for weight loss or a fix for all health problems because it’s not meant to be a long-term plan. We have to manage our diets carefully and be aware of what our body is telling us when we feel hungry or fatigued. When considering the keto’s restrictive diet plan we need to consider our own personal lifestyle and what kind of changes we are willing to make so we can reach our goals in a safe and healthy way. Another important thought to consider is to not become “weight obsessed” as Segeert (2016) puts it. When we over think our weight and are constantly getting on the scale we can psych ourselves out making ourselves think we need to keep losing more weight to meet the standards of society. This type of weight obsession can be a dangerous road to harming ourselves even when we don’t mean to. Keeping everything in moderation and having a balanced eating lifestyle filled with, unprocessed diet, rich in very colorful fruits and vegetables, lean meats, fish, whole grains, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and lots of water seems to have the best results for a healthier, vibrant life.
- Meiring, R. & Iacovides, S. (2018) The Effect of a Ketogenic Diet Versus a High-carbohydrate, Low-fat Diet on Sleep, Cognition, Thyroid function, and Cardiovascular Health Independent of Weight Loss: Study Protocal for Randomized Controlled Trail. NCBI. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5782363/
- MD Campos, M. (2018) Ketogenic Diet: Is the Ultimate Low-carb Diet Good for You? Harvard Health Publishing. Retrieved from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/ketogenic-diet-is-the-ultimate-low-carb-diet-good-for-you-2017072712089
- Mclntosh, J. (2017) Ketosis: What is Ketosis? Medical News Today. Retrieved from: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/180858.php
- Migala, J. (2018) Ketogenic Diet: What to Expect if You Try This Eating Approach. Everyday Health. Retrieved from: https://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition/ketogenic-diet/keto-diet-possible-short-long-term-effects/
- Seegert, L. (2016) The Keto Diet is Gaining Popularity, but Is It Safe? Health Line. Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/health-news/keto-diet-is-gaining-popularity-but-is-it-safe-121914#1