By Vanessa Evens a recent ASU Nutrition Student
The Keto diet has surged in popularity recently. Chances are you or someone you know is keto and raving about it! But tread lightly. This fad is under-researched and potentially over-hyped.
Keto, if you are not familiar is a very high fat, low carb diet. There are many versions of this diet, including the newer Ketotarian diet, which eliminates the meat traditionally found with Keto. The Keto Diet suggests 60-75% of your calories should come from healthy fats. This means non-saturated fats. This is where a lot of people get it wrong. Keto isn’t just the beef and butter diet that it has seemingly turned into here in the states. Keto is supposed to be about upping the healthy fats available to us. This would include nuts, avocados, and olive oils. Done correctly, it should mirror the food choices of the Mediterranean Diet but with the quantities of each food differing.
Here’s the hiccup with the Keto Diet. The only real research that really has been done on this diet is as a treatment for people with epilepsy. There is growing research that seems to show favorable results as a short term weight loss plan, but the research is still limited. Conversely, there is some research that shows some negative effects of this diet including muscle mass loss, as well as kidney stones and blood sugar issues in diabetics. Another common side effect of the keto diet is hair loss and potential heart issues. “A new study to be presented at an American College of Cardiology conference found that people who got less than 45 percent of their day’s calories from carbs had an 18 percent higher risk of atrial fibrillation than those who got 45 to 52 percent of their calories from carbs” says Vandana Sheth, a registered dietitian near Los Angeles and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Obviously, Keto is not without its risks, but when you bring uneducated enthusiasts into the mix the negative effects can grow. A lot of people in the US are not executing the Keto Diet the way it is intended. They focus on the “high-fat” aspect instead of the high “non-saturated” fats. Saturated fats include fattier cuts of beef, pork, and poultry, along with dairy, coconut oil, and processed meats like bacon. Unsaturated fats are healthy fats like olive oil, fish, avocados, and nuts. Keto should be a mix of both fats but focus primarily on the unsaturated variety. A lot of the recipes I see online are for Keto bacon cheeseburgers (no bun) or butter coffee, which is literally what it sounds like. These things do fit into a Keto diet in moderation but in America, they have become staples. This is not how the diet is intended to be used, or what any of the research done has been based on. You need a logical balance of both types of fat.
If you want to try the Keto diet, make sure to do your science-based research and not just what the latest fad blogs are telling you! Keto with caution friends!
Ketotarian: Keto Without the Meat. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://health.usnews.com/wellness/food/articles/what-is-the-ketotarian-diet-and-is-it-healthy
Moll, J. (n.d.). The Key Differences Between Saturated and Unsaturated Fats. Retrieved from https://www.verywellhealth.com/difference-between-saturated-fats-and-unsaturated-fats-697517
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