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The Ketogenic diet is the latest-weight loss fad, with celebrities like Jenna Jameson amplifying its their gushing opinions of its virtues on social media. Plenty of non-celebs are obsessed with the diet too, which calls for replacing high-carb foods with fatty, protein-rich foods. Keto followers say they are dropping pounds fast on the diet that works by putting the body into ketosis — a natural metabolic state in which the body burns fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates. But is the Keto diet safe?
While influential names like Jameson, who lost 60 pounds on the diet, are singing its praises, many experts say it may not be the best for long-term health.
The Outline calls the Keto diet "a recipe for disaster," noting it's no different — or better — than any now-dated-seeming diet fad of the past... such as the 1990s' Snackwell's cookies. The Outline notes, "Low-carb has become the new low-fat. During the early Atkins era, snacks included cucumbers, beef jerky, and pork rinds. Now there’s a wealth of low-carb snacking options; there are junk-foody low-carb recipes all over Pinterest; a low-carb aisle at the grocery store. There are low-carb replacement foods and ingredients for low-carb replacement foods. It’s Snackwell’s 2.0."
Dr. Kim Williams, former president of the American College of Cardiology, says Keto is better for people who are looking for short-term weight loss.
“I like the idea, the basic concept: You change your dietary habits and you change something,” Williams told Plant Based News. “Unfortunately, the science of it is wrong. If all you wanted was short-term weight loss — and short-term could be a year or two — if that's all you’re looking for, great.”
Nutritionist Dana James tells The Feast that the Keto diet calls for foods broken down in the following percentages: 60 percent fat, 35 percent protein, and five percent carbs. And she explains what can go wrong if one stays on the Keto diet for too long.
“If you follow these ratios strictly you won’t have enough plant fiber or phytonutrients for regular bowel movements — you’ll be constipated — your skin will lose its vibrancy, and you’ll disrupt the gut micro-biome, which feeds off the plant fiber, and this will have an adverse impact on your mood and thyroid,” James says. “Of course, none of this shows up straight away, but it will.”
She says the “art of weight loss” is not about cutting carbs.
“It’s not finding the lowest-possible carb diet — that’s like running for three hours per day. It's finding the diet with a moderate level of vegetables and carbs that still stimulates fat loss,” she explains. “The ketogenic diet was not developed for fat loss but rather for epilepsy. It is a diet I endorse for neurological issues but not fat loss."
She explained there are easy options, which she detailed in her book, The Archetype Diet. "In reality, most people following a Keto diet aren’t actually following these ratios. They are simply eating more fat and more protein and using 'Keto' as the dietary term. Provided they are eating at least half a plate of vegetables at lunch and dinner with some combination of fat and protein and it’s working for them, then I’m all for it. If it’s not working for them, it’s not their diet.”
Dr. Marcelo Campos at Harvard Medical School says instead of the Keto diet, people should aim to eat healthy over the long term. He recommends “a balanced, unprocessed diet, rich in very colorful fruits and vegetables, lean meats, fish, whole grains, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and lots of water.”
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