Q: Are ketogenic diets safe (healthy)?
A: The ketogenic diet requires you to obtain most of your calories from dietary fats. Originally used to treat children with epileptic seizures, it’s become a popular diet among people who are trying to lose weight or who aren’t able to tolerate carbohydrates well, such as diabetics.
When you go on a ketogenic diet, you’ll enter a state known as ketosis, and it seems to have some interesting physiological effects such as reducing a person’s appetite, which may lead to the consumption of less calories and therefore result in weight loss. Ketogenic diets also may help your performance if you participate in ultra-endurance sports.
Yet, the question remains: Are ketogenic diets safe and healthy? Whether or not a ketogenic diet improves health outcomes will likely depend on the quality of the foods. It’s possible to remain in ketosis while eating junk food high in fats. However, consuming foods/oils that are high in calories and poor in nutrients won’t do your body any good.
It’s also important to note that this diet is not for everyone, even if it consists of high-quality foods. You may want to avoid a ketogenic diet if you’re doing high-intensity workouts or strenuous sports because it may impair your performance. Also, if you suffer from hypothyroidism (or are at risk of developing it), you may want to avoid a keto diet, since it seems to cause thyroid malfunction in some people. Other side effects associated with the diet include dehydration, bad breath and digestive issues.
Going on a ketogenic diet is no easy task, and while it does have its benefits, it also has its detriments. To make sure a ketogenic diet is the best option for you, it’s best to consult a medical professional.
— Kamal Patel, MPH, Examine.com Director