Chances are you’ve heard of the keto diet. It seems to be all the rage in the battle to lose weight these days. It’s a high fat, low carb diet that gets fast results. But could it cost you more in the long run?
Alexandra West told FOX10 News Anchor Lenise Ligon that she started the keto diet in the summer of 2018 to lose about 30-35 pounds.
West stated the diet worked and it was fast!
"I lost 10 pounds in about six weeks,” exclaimed West.
Now several months into her keto journey, she said she is still seeing the results and feels great.
"I found that I didn't want to get off the diet. I had more mental clarity, I had more focus, I wasn't as hungry I was satisfied with my food and I had no more carbohydrate cravings,” West said.
West, is just one of many people singing the praises of the keto diet. Celebrities Jenna Jameson, Mama June, and Halle Berry are touting Keto too. Despite the recent hype, the Keto diet isn't new. It's been used almost 100 years to treat drug-resistant epilepsy, especially in children.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the keto diet is essentially a high-fat diet — meals are 70 or 80 percent fat; about 20 percent protein; and about 5 percent carbohydrate. It is not an Atkins high-protein diet.
When you break down the diet, it translates to a lot of meat, heavy cream, cheese, butter, oils and some very low carbohydrate, non-starchy vegetables like cucumbers, lettuce, peppers, to name a few. Breads, pastas, fruit and milk products are strictly off-limits.
But how does it work?
In essence, it's a diet that causes the body to release ketones into the bloodstream that's where the name keto comes from.
People cut way back on carbohydrates to help the body achieve a state of ketosis, which forces the body to burn fat rather than sugar for energy.
For most people on the diet, keto is a lifestyle. But Phyllus Justice, USA Health Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, said it's not the magic formula people think it is.
"As a nutritionist it's not a diet that I would recommend.”
Justice expressed that one of her main criticisms of the keto diet is that many people tend to eat too much protein and poor-quality fats from processed foods, with few fruits and vegetables.
"The diet in general is deficient in calcium because there's no dairy, or limited dairy, it's also deficient in fiber no whole grains, limited amounts of fruit, nuts, and berries and it's deficient in potassium,” added Justice.
Some health experts warn against it entirely, citing unpleasant side effects, health risks, like an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, less muscle mass, decreased metabolism, Ketoacidosis, diarrhea, weight re-gain, and what's called the “keto flu."
"Where they get headaches and nausea because their bodies is adjusting to a different fuel source,” Justice explained.
West however, isn't concerned. She said she recieved permission from her doctor to stay on the diet — with modifications.
"I think it's pick your poison, there are tons of people who say it's terrible for you it will raise your blood pressure…it's bad for this it's bad for that…and it's probably dependent on your genetic background."
There are several versions of the keto diet, the standard appears to be the most researched.
While health experts agree that people can lose more weight and faster one the ketogenic diet, compared to a low-fat diet, the real challenge becomes keeping it off because the diet is so restrictive.
The general consensus is the keto diet is not for long term — best done for 30 to 90 days, followed by a more sustainable diet plan.