What are the Risks and Benefits of the Keto Diet?

The keto diet is among the most popular diets today. Unlike the usual American diet that is composed of 50% to 60% carbs, the keto diet requires you to consume 70% fat, 20% protein, and 5% carbs.  After you follow the keto diet for several days, your body will start using fat for energy. This is called ketosis. We already know how popular the keto diet is, but what are the risks and benefits of this fad diet? Let us find out.

Benefits of the Keto Diet

The keto diet focuses on consuming foods that contain ample amounts of protein, very few carbs, and lots of healthful fats. In this article, we will discuss the benefits and risks of the keto diet to help you decide whether it is the right diet for you or not.

For weight loss

Most people follow the keto diet to lose weight. The weight loss is initially due to loss of water since you reduce the number of carbs you take, and your body consumes the carbs stored in your liver, which holds onto water. The keto diet requires you to eat more whole, high-fat foods, which will help you lose more weight. By reducing carbs, you will also reduce simple, refined carbs and sugar. This will help you gain more energy.

To potentially reduce the risk of certain types of cancer

One study shared that the keto diet may be a suitable and safe complementary treatment that can be used together with radiation therapy and chemotherapy in people with certain types of cancer. The keto diet will subject cancer cells to oxidative stress, causing them to die. One study also suggests that the keto diet could reduce the possibility of insulin complications because it lowers blood sugar. However, studies in this field are limited. Researchers need to conduct more studies to completely understand the possible benefits of the keto diet in cancer treatment and prevention.

For possible neuroprotective benefits

Some studies suggest that the keto diet may offer neuroprotective benefits, which can help protect the brain. Therefore, this kind of diet may help manage or prevent Alzheimer’s disease. However, more studies are needed to understand the effects of this diet on the brain.

To improve PCOS symptoms

PCOS or polycystic ovary syndrome is a hormonal disorder, which can lead to excess production of male hormones, polycystic ovaries, and ovulatory dysfunction. A high-carb diet is not suitable for people with PCOS because it can cause weight gain and skin problems. One study assessed 5 women for 24 weeks and discovered that the keto diet improved various symptoms of PCOS, including hormone balance and weight loss.

To potentially improve heart health

High cholesterol levels can increase the risk of heart disease. Since the keto diet reduces the amount of cholesterol that a person consumes, it may help lower one’s risk of heart disease or complications.

For its potential to reduce seizures

The amount of carbs, fat, and protein in a keto diet changes the way your body uses energy. By following a keto diet, your body will achieve a state of ketosis. It is a metabolic process in which the body consumes ketone bodies for fuel. According to the Epilepsy Foundation, ketosis can help reduce seizures in people who have epilepsy. More research is needed to determine how effective this diet is, but it seems to offer the best results in children with focal seizures.

Risks of the Keto Diet

The keto diet may offer a lot of health benefits, but it comes with some risks as well. Staying on this diet long-term can have adverse effects on your health, such as the increased risk of kidney stones, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and fat build-up in the liver.

The keto diet has various side effects known as the keto flu. These side effects may include fatigue, nausea, constipation, low blood sugar, headaches, and vomiting. These symptoms are normal at the beginning of the keto diet because your body is adjusting to its new source of energy. The keto diet is not suitable for everyone. It should be avoided by people with eating disorders, pancreatitis, or kidney disease. Breastfeeding and pregnant women, and insulin-dependent people should avoid this diet as well.

That is why you should speak with your doctor before you change your diet. The keto diet severely limits carbs, but some carbs offer health benefits. If you prefer a less restrictive diet, you should adapt one that includes a wide range of healthful fats, nutritious protein sources, and nutrient-dense, fibrous carbohydrates like vegetables and fruits.