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Approach the Keto Diet With Caution

Lose-weight-quick diets have been around for years. One of the most popular diets today is the keto diet.

The keto diet is mainly about eliminating most, if not all, carbohydrates. With this diet, 80 percent of your calories come from fat, 15 percent from protein and the rest from carbohydrates. It’s appealing because you lose weight fast.

Concerns About Keto

But that quick weight loss can carry several dangers. While a carb-heavy diet can lead to weight gain, carbs are important for glucose production and daily energy. The diet is new enough that long-term studies aren’t available to verify the diet’s effect.

Carbohydrates are stored with water, so cutting out most carbs can make it appear that weight loss is fast, but it can leave you dehydrated.

There’s a  nutrition imbalance with the keto diet: It leaves out a lot of vitamins and minerals. If there is inadequate carbohydrate intake, the body has to develop glucose from protein instead of carbs, so that can lead to decreased muscle mass, and it can affect your endurance.

Keto diet supporters say the diet helps decrease blood pressure and increase your good (HDL) cholesterol. But according to the American Heart Association, blood pressure improves with weight loss in general, not due to any specific diet. And the cholesterol gain is risky for people with genetically high cholesterol.

Several other health risks and drawbacks:

  • Brain function is impacted without the quicker-released energy of glucose from carbs, as well as from potentially compromised hydration.
  • Bone mass can decline from an excess of protein, as well as potentially inadequate calcium and vitamin D consumption.
  • Intestinal function can be damaged, which can lead to cancer and other dangerous conditions. This is due to the proven cancer-causing properties of red meat and processed meat (according to a World Health Authority study in 2014), as well as increased saturated fat on the keto diet, and inadequate intake of calcium, fiber and vitamin D.
  • It can lead to kidney and liver diseases, as well as mid-life death. The kidneys are at risk due to the high protein content of the diet, and the dehydration that comes from high-protein diets. The liver is at risk also due to the high protein content, as well as the high fat content.
  • It can actually increase your waistline while you’re losing weight elsewhere.

Alternative Weight Loss Strategies

What should people do instead to lose weight? The best general idea is to eat a healthy diet and take the weight off slowly. Be patient with the process.

Research suggests:

  • Limiting high-calorie and non-nutritious foods.
  • Getting into a routine with regular meals so your body can start recognizing “internal cues” of hunger and fullness.
  • Choosing low-calorie snacks.
  • Eating slowly and mindfully.
  • Staying hydrated throughout the day.
  • Staying full with lots of vegetables and other high fiber foods.
  • Finding activities to prevent boredom eating.
  • Setting realistic, measurable goals for weight loss.
  • Finding motivation to commit long-term to your goals.
  • Getting active.

 Read more about other diets including the Mediterranean and DASH diets.

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