Carbs are evil. Fat will make you fat. One needs half their body weight in grams of protein. For decades, society has searched for a miracle diet. Though the ostracized food group continues to change, the concept is the same: Society wants a scapegoat for the weight gain that has plagued so many. The newest diet trend, the ketogenic diet or “keto diet,” is no different than the other popular diets of the past.
The keto diet is defined as “a very low-carb, moderate-protein and high-fat diet. It typically contains 75% fat, 20% protein and only 5% carbs,” according to healthline.com. The purpose of the keto diet is to help the body go into a state of ketosis, where the body burns fat instead of sugar for energy.
Salisbury University’s dietician Terry Passano said the keto diet was first created in the 1920’s to help people with seizures and has been shown to have positive health effects.
“It has been shown to help with weight loss, it helps with some kinds of cancer [and] it helps with some neurological disorders,” Passano said.
However, this is not always the case.
When undertaking the keto diet, people look for foods that are high in fat and low carb. Often, dieters see it as an opportunity to eat large amounts of bacon, butter, chicken, red meat, heavy cream and more. At the same time, they cut out carbohydrates, including whole grains, fruit and some vegetables.
“If you are going to be doing it, then you have to eat plant-based fats. A lot of people just think it’s all bacon and processed meats,” Passano said. “If you are doing that, then you are not going to be doing yourself a lot of favors.”
Salisbury freshman John Thompson tried the keto diet for around three months after gaining weight over the summer.
“Usually I would try to have some kind of meat. I would have chicken, or I would go to Chick-fil-a and get a sandwich and I wouldn’t eat the bun,” Thompson said. “I liked it, but on the other hand, since I wasn’t getting enough carbs, I was not very energized throughout the day. Around two o’clock I would pass out for a nap. It kind of sets things back.”
The keto diet may leave a person feeling sick from the very beginning and cause them to experience what experts are calling the “keto flu.”
Keto flu is a result of the body being deprived of carbohydrates, and can cause symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, muscle aches, nausea and diarrhea. The good news is that no flu shot is needed to prevent the keto flu, just avoid society’s latest “health” trend.
Charlie Lucas, freshman at SU, said his sister also tried the keto diet and was not pleased with the results of the diet.
“She tried for two weeks [and] she said she actually gained weight because of it. She gained three to five pounds over the two weeks” Lucas said. “She said she didn’t eat any carbs, like fruits were considered carbs, so she didn’t eat any fruits.”
Like Thompson, Lucas’ sister felt the negative effects on her body from not consuming carbohydrates.
“She said [she felt] tired, bloated and gross the whole time,” Lucas said.
Along with short-term effects, the keto diet may cause long-term health effects as well, according to different studies.
One such finding was that the ketogenic diet “has been linked to the development of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and insulin resistance,” according to lifespa.com. It was also found that there was an increased risk of arterial stiffness, which is an early marker of cardiovascular disease.
These are just two serious side effects attributed to the keto diet. Even more, the diet is relatively new, so the effect on long-term health is still partially unknown.
The ketogenic diet is not sustainable, and in order to keep the weight off, lifestyle changes are necessary. Many people will end up gaining the weight back from the keto diet for this exact reason.
Passano agrees that the diet has some downsides in terms of physical health.
“I think the ketogenic diet can be dangerous if you don’t do it right,” Passano said. “You do run the risk of being deficient in nutrients. Some people get a really high cholesterol.”
So before diving into such a rigorous diet, one which involves isolating an entire group of food that is known to give the body energy, one should try to focus on eating unprocessed whole foods.
Go ahead and grab a piece of bread, just go for the whole grain option and enjoy it in moderation.
By LAURA AMRHEIN
Featured image: Anytime Fitness Blog image.