ketogenic, keto, or the so-called high-fat, low-carb diet has become a weight-loss trend in recent years.

Many people choose this diet with the hope of quickly reducing their weight and losing a few pounds right away. however, like any other diet that strictly excludes certain foods, the keto diet can be related to various long-term health risks.

This article will briefly explain what the keto diet is and how it affects the body. On top of that, it will guide you through the groups of people who may benefit from this diet, as well as those who may be adversely affected.

What is the keto diet?

ketogenic, or the keto diet focuses on consuming foods that are high in fat, low in carbohydrates, and moderate in protein.

According to the Harvard School of Public Health, fats consumed on the keto diet should account for about 70-75% of the total daily calorie intake, while proteins should be 20-25% and carbohydrates 5-10%. [1] Or in other words, people on a ketogenic diet expect to lose weight by eating mostly high-fat foods.

In fact, the mechanism of the ketogenic diet is very complex, as it triggers unusual body processes.

Minimal carbohydrate intake keeps blood sugar levels low and prevents blood glucose spikes. however, when you eat very few amounts of carbohydrates for a few days (keep in mind that carbohydrates break down into glucose in the body), the risk of hypoglycemia (too low blood sugar) increases. In order to avoid the potential health risks of hypoglycemia, the body enters “rescue mode” and begins creating “ketones”. Those are basically water-soluble compounds produced by the breakdown of fats which give the body energy to function properly. [2]

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Ketones can give the body 70% of the energy it needs. [3] The other 30% of energy comes from the liver, which uses amino acids, glycerin, pyruvate, and lactate to create extra fuel for the body. [4]

This way, the keto diet allows the body to use energy and function properly without consuming glucose (eg, in the form of carbohydrates).


Is a keto diet for everyone?

As mentioned, the ketogenic diet triggers unusual bodily processes like ketogenis (ketone creation). This way, if you have been on a keto diet for a long time, normal body functions related to insulin production, blood glucose use, fat metabolism, and others, can cause both beneficial and unwanted health effects, depending on general health conditions and predisposition to certain diseases.

For this reason, the keto diet is not a “one size fits all” weight loss solution. It is important to consult your doctor or a registered dietician if you wish to “go keto” and follow their dietary recommendations and guidelines.

Who is the keto diet good for?

Various medical studies and research papers have looked at the health benefits of the keto diet . Below, you can find what people can benefit from following a ketogenic diet:

  • Patients with epilepsy

According to the Epilepsy Foundation, the keto diet can help with the reduction of seizures in people with epilepsy who are unresponsive to seizure control medications. That said, the source states that various studies have found that around 50% of children starting a ketogenic diet can reduce their seizures at least 50%. Additionally, 10-15% of epileptic children can stop experiencing seizures due to their keto diet regime. [5]

however, patients with epilepsy should strictly follow their physician’s dietary recommendations and adopt a ketogenic diet only if prescribed by their physician.

  • People with episodic or chronic migraines

A 2017 study published in the journal of “Neurological Sciences” suggests that the keto diet may positively affect people suffering from episodic and chronic migraines by reducing the severity of their symptoms. [6] however, the source says more research is needed to identify why and how the keto diet can improve migraine symptoms.

  • gender 2 diabetic patients

According to a 2008 study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, the keto diet (and other low-carb diets) can help type 2 diabetic patients improve their glycemic control (prevent spikes in blood sugar levels), and, consequently, take sugar control medications less frequently. [7]

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Based on this source, the Global Diabetes Community suggests the keto diet may help type 2 diabetes patients become less addicted to diabetes medications. [8]

  • Cancer patients

A 2020 review paper published in the Journal of Molecular Metabolism examined the potential effects of the ketogenic diet on cancer patients. The source presents medical evidence that the keto diet can support and improve the effectiveness of chemo – and radiation therapy for treating cancer, as well as improving the overall quality of life of cancer patients. [9]

Still, the review paper emphasizes the need for more study and research to recommend the keto diet as part of complex anti-cancer therapy.

  • Overweight or obese individuals

According to a 2019 review article published in the journal Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care, the keto diet can effectively help obese and overweight individuals lose weight, improve their lipid profile and insulin sensitivity while supporting their energy levels for activity. physics. however, the review shows that the ketogenic diet has not yet been shown to support long-term weight loss effects. [10]

  • People with prediabetes and insulin resistance

Insulin resistance is a prediabetic health condition, which is characterized by the damaged ability of the body’s cells to recognize the insulin and use blood glucose for energy. Therefore, people with insulin resistance often support abnormally high insulin production or have high blood sugar levels. [11]

That said, eating minimal amounts of carbohydrates can help the body prevent sharp spikes in blood sugar levels, and various medical papers suggest it can potentially improve the quality of life of insulin-resistant patients and even reverse prediabetic conditions and insulin resistance. [12]

however, a 2018 study in the American Journal of Physiology showed that the long-term keto diet may actually lead to insulin resistance in mice due to increased lipid oxidation and lower respiratory exchange ratio. [13] While this study does not present evidence based on human evidence, it may have important implications regarding the effect of the low-carb, high-fat diet on human health and supports further studies on the subject.

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Who should avoid the keto diet?

While the ketogenic diet may have many health benefits, there are various groups of people who are at risk for health complications after adopting this diet. That said, it’s important to have a consultation with your doctor or dietician before going keto.

  • Pregnant women

Evidence suggests that following a ketogenic diet during pregnancy can negatively affect the embryo (and then the baby). The damage the keto diet can cause is related to physical changes such as the larger heart, smaller brain, smaller cervical spinal cord, and others. [14]

  • gender 1 diabetic patients

Although the keto diet can improve metabolic control, there is no evidence that it can slow the progression or prevent type 1 diabetes. Furthermore, there is no firm scientific evidence that the keto diet is safe (gender 1) for diabetic patients and insulin-dependent individuals. [15]

  • People suffering from pancreatic diseases

Evidence suggests that the ketogenic diet can often cause hypertriglyceridemia due to high fat intake. That said, this health condition is a prerequisite for the development of acute pancreatitis. [16] Based on these findings, the keto diet may increase the risk of pancreatitis complications.

  • Patients with liver disease

A 2020 study published in the Cureus Journal of Medical Science suggests that the ketogenic diet may increase the risk of developing hyperlipidemia (your blood has too much cholesterol, triglycerides, or other types of fat), as well as elevated liver enzymes and liver disease. [17]

  • Individuals with chronic diseases, malnutrition, surgery

The ketogenic diet is a restrictive diet that is not based on balance and macronutrient diversity. That said, individuals who suffer from chronic health conditions (or have a medical history with such health problems), micronutrient deficiencies, hormone imbalances, as well as those who have undergone surgical procedures should be very careful if / when following the keto diet. . In those cases, this diet should be approved, recommended, and strictly supervised by a licensed physician or health care practitioner to avoid adverse health effects.

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