By: Kristin M. MacDonald, MS, RD, LDN, Owner, Healthy Appetites Nutrition Counseling, L.L.C.
For those interested in weight loss the ‘keto diet’, short for the ketogenic diet, has become increasingly popular. This diet utilizes the metabolic principle of ketosis, a natural process that occurs in our bodies when carbohydrate stores become low and fat is broken down into ketones for energy.
The keto diet is considered a very-low-carb diet where carbohydrates were eaten are restricted to less than 20 to 30 grams per day. On the keto diet, protein intake is moderate and fat intake is high.
There have been studies that demonstrate potential benefits to following a ketogenic diet for patients with type 2 diabetes. For example, in this population, greater weight loss may be seen on a ketogenic diet compared to diets where calories are simply restricted. Those following a ketogenic diet may also experience improved satiety or feelings of fullness. Some studies suggest that for people with type 2 diabetes eating a low carb diet may improve glycemic blood sugar control, and, despite the higher fat intake of people following this type of diet, overall cardiovascular risk profiles tend to be better.
Although there are potential benefits to the keto diet for some patients, long-term effects of this diet are unknown. Medical professionals cite concerns about kidney function and bone health. Also, whenever a diet strictly limits a certain food or food group there is a risk of missing out on important nutrients. As with any diet, there is concern about sustainability and ability to follow the required changes over time.
If you are interested in more information or think you may want to follow a keto diet, consult with your doctor first. In my work with patients, I encourage the development of healthy and sustainable lifestyle and eating pattern changes, allowing for all foods, in moderation, to fit into a person’s diet plan.