- Keto, or the ketogenic diet, has become a popular and celeb-approved way to lose weight, but it comes with some misconceptions.
- The high-fat, low-carb diet is a drastic change from the diet that the USDA recommends for Americans.
- The diet also drastically changes your metabolism.
- And while keto is proven to help you lose weight, the diet can have side effects, like the notorious keto flu.
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Following is a transcript of the video.
The high-fat, low-carb ketogenic diet, or “keto” for short, has become a popular way to lose weight. And while keto is proven to help you shed the pounds, it’s a huge change for your body’s metabolism and can come with some serious side effects.
Step aside, Atkins. There’s a new fad diet in town.
And if losing weight is your goal, keto works! It’s proved to help you shed pounds fast. But there’s more to this diet than meets the eye.
Keto basically replaces carbs with fat. A typical keto diet looks like this:
70% fat 25% protein 5% carbohydrates
It’s a drastic change from the diet that the USDA recommends for Americans:
less than 30% fat 20-35% protein at least 50% carbs
And it’s a significant change for your body’s metabolism too. Usually when you eat carbs, like a starchy potato, enzymes in your mouth, stomach, and small intestine break them into a form of sugar energy, called glucose, which your brain and body use for fuel.
So, when you skip out on carbs, the first couple of days you might experience some strong sugar cravings. Because your body is switching gears, from burning carbs to the only energy it has left: fat.
Once you’re burning fat regularly, you’ll start to see the pounds melt away. Depending on your weight, you might lose up to 3.5 pounds within the first week. As you burn more fat, levels of insulin, the fat-storing hormone, will drop significantly. This triggers your kidneys to release large amounts of sodium into the blood.
Which can actually lead to a common side effect known as the “keto flu.” Many keto dieters report symptoms like, nausea, headaches, dizziness, muscle cramps, and low energy levels.
But most of these symptoms will occur only in the first couple of weeks after starting the diet.
After the first month, the scales will look better. But some of that lost weight isn’t actually fat. It’s water.
Because some of the carbs you’ve metabolized include glycogen, which retains water and therefore helps keep you hydrated. As a result, you’ll likely pee more, which will lower your sodium levels even more, leading to dehydration, constipation or diarrhoea, and bad breath.
Once you’re a couple of months in, you might hit the notorious keto plateau. It’s a common term in the keto community and refers to when people find it harder to continue losing weight. One study, for example, found that overweight people lost an average of 15 pounds in the first month and another 11 pounds over the next two months, but after that they saw no change in body weight â€” despite sticking to the keto diet.
At this point, many people quit keto. That’s why researchers often find it hard to study the long-term effects of the diet. But, as it turns out, there is one group that typically sticks to keto.
It’s unclear why, but keto has been proved to reduce the symptoms of epilepsy. And studies show that epileptic children who stay on very restricted keto diets for several years can suffer from: kidney stones, high cholesterol, and bone fractures.
But a typical keto diet won’t be nearly as strict, and if you do want to try keto, you should talk to a doctor first.
In the meantime, go ahead and enjoy that bread. And remember, the best diet is a balanced one of fat, protein, and â€” yes, even â€” carbs.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in January 2019.