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The Keto Diet is the latest and greatest fad diet to sweep the nation, bringing quick results to those who wish to lose weight. On the surface, it seems to be a dieter's dream come true, especially for people who are not prone to craving sweets, as carbs are the only restriction. High-fat foods such as bacon, cream cheese, peanut butter, eggs, nuts and seeds, oils, and meats are all popular choices. Low carb vegetables such as broccoli and kale, and fruits like berries add a touch of healthy eating to this high-fat regimen.
At its core, the Ketogenic Diet, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, is a medical diet used primarily to treat epilepsy in children since the 1920s. Consuming foods high in fat and low in carbohydrates forces the body to burn fat instead of sugar, reports the Epilepsy Foundation, resulting in the production of ketones.
This can be highly beneficial as a treatment for seizures, brain cancer, and a plethora of other illnesses. However, it also has the potential to cause some serious side effects, and while the diet for weight loss is likely not as strict as ketogenic medical treatment, it is important to be aware of possible issues that can arise.
• Constipation. According to Prevention, constipation is one of the most common issues, due to the loss of high fiber foods like fruits, as well as the loss of liquids. To combat these symptoms, it is imperative to drink plenty of water and consume Keto approved foods such as avocado and nuts. Laxatives such as Miralax are commonly used by these dieters, but again, frequent water consumption is necessary in order for these medications to work.
• Bad breath. Excessive restriction of sugar in the diet forces the body to go into a state of ketosis, where ketones are burned for energy. As a result, the body produces acetone, ultimately causing bad breath that is unique to the Keto Diet.
• Flu-like symptoms. The initial transition into ketosis can be a difficult thing. Symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, and body aches can occur during this time, known as the Keto Flu. Unfortunately, cheat days may produce the same result, as an increase in sugar throws the body out of ketosis.
• Heart disease. Eating a large amount of fat, especially saturated fat, can certainly increase the risk of heart disease. Since the Ketogenic Diet depends upon the daily consumption of fatty foods, it is easy to see how it can potentially lead to heart problems.
• High cholesterol. Children who use the classic form of this as a treatment for epilepsy are closely monitored by a doctor and dietitian. Lipid panels are often taken to ensure that cholesterol levels have not excessively increased.
• Kidney stones. Minerals and salts that form hard deposits within the kidneys and can cause extreme pain while passing through the urinary tract.
While the consensus seems to be that the Keto Diet is highly effective for those who desire to lose weight, it is not necessarily a healthy diet. It is so low carb that even the majority of fruits are restricted, except for those with low sugar content, such as berries. Making an informed decision and working with a doctor may help for those interested in taking on this diet journey.