If you’ve ever researched ways to lose weight, you’ve likely come across the ketogenic diet. This extremely low-carb, high-fat diet has been touted as an effective way to lose weight. Before you start altering your diet, here’s what you need to know about the ketogenic diet.
What is it?
The ketogenic diet has been in use for almost 100 years, but not for weight loss. The diet has been used primarily to treat drug-resistant epilepsy in adults and children.
For most Americans, carbohydrates account for at least 50 percent of their diet. The ketogenic diet replaces carbohydrates with proteins, fats, oil, nuts, seeds and vegetables like coconut oil, avocado, almonds, salmon and kale. But when you eat less than 50 grams of carbs per day, which you do on the ketogenic diet, your body will run out of blood sugar in a few days.How it works
When your body runs out of blood sugar — usually in about three or four days — your body will enter ketosis. In ketosis, your body breaks down fats and proteins for energy. The result? Weight loss.
While it may seem tempting to toss out all the carbohydrates in your pantry and start fresh, the ketogenic diet might not be right for you.
It’s very strict: The diet can be difficult to follow and stick to because it strictly limits carbohydrates. It can also be difficult to get the right amount of proteins and healthy fats. Notes Harvard Health: “Many people tend to eat too much protein and poor-quality fats from processed foods, with very few fruits and vegetables.”
It’s not a good choice if you have certain medical conditions: While the diet has been used to treat epilepsy, it can be dangerous if you have conditions like kidney disease or type 1 diabetes.
It comes with side effects: Drastically altering your diet can leave you feeling unwell at first. According to Harvard Health, some patients experience fatigue, bad breath, constipation, nausea, vomiting, constipation or sleep problems.
It may help treat other conditions: In addition to drug-resistant epilepsy, the diet may help control blood sugar levels, help boost brain health or help hormonal conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome.
While a ketogenic diet may help accelerate weight loss and treat some conditions, it may not be the right choice for your needs. If you’re considering the diet or have questions about how to lose weight, talk to your doctor.