keto friendly sign – a paper tag with a twine isolated on white, food products supporting keto diet
Ketones are a family of chemicals made by your liver, usually out of the body’s fat, to provide energy when you need it. Right now, you’ve almost certainly got some ketones circulating in your blood. If you fast for the better part of a day, the level of ketones in your blood will rise, as your body turns to its stored fat to make up for the lack of carbohydrates (aka sugars) in your system.
The keto diet tries to hypercharge all this ketone production. The basic idea is that when people forgo almost all carbohydrates, shun excess proteins, and load up on fat, their bodies will respond by producing ketones.
But will all that ketone production do any good?
Let’s start with weight loss. The keto diet is a cousin of several other popular weight loss approaches, things like the Atkins plan or the paleo diet. Compared to these other diet plans, the keto diet leads to more weight loss among people tracked for at least a year. But before you get too excited about that result, keep this in mind. Across all the studies analyzed, people on the keto diet lost only about a pound or two more than those on other diets. No sugars; almost no protein; and you’ll lose a couple extra pounds? It’s up to you to decide if that’s worth it.
What about diabetes control? When researchers combine data from all the randomized trials on the topic, they found that the keto diet is no better at lowering your blood sugar than any other diet.
How about controlling your cholesterol levels through a keto diet? Sorry, it won’t help, and may even raise your lipid levels.
Alongside these meager to non-existent benefits, the keto diet carries some important risks, from the seemingly minor (fatigue, constipation, muscle cramps) to more serious problems (like kidney stones, pancreatitis, and bone fractures).
And of course, as Shivam Joshi from NYU recently wrote, when people follow the keto diet, they miss out on all the benefits of whole grains, fruits, and legumes.
The bottom line appears clear to me: if you want to get (or stay) healthy, stay clear of the keto diet.