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The Keto Diet has more benefits and risks than you think

This April 3, 2018 photo shows a closeup of a beam scale in New York. New research, published Tuesday, Oct. 16 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, suggests obesity surgery may dramatically lower the danger of heart attacks and strokes in people with diabetes. The study reinforces evidence that the benefits of stomach-shrinking surgery extend beyond weight loss.

AP Photo by Patrick Sison

This April 3, 2018 photo shows a closeup of a beam scale in New York. New research, published Tuesday, Oct. 16 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, suggests obesity surgery may dramatically lower the danger of heart attacks and strokes in people with diabetes. The study reinforces evidence that the benefits of stomach-shrinking surgery extend beyond weight loss.

Ethan McGuire, Staff Writer

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In recent years, the ketogenic diet made a splash due to how well it works to get rid of body fat, but there is more to this diet than simply dropping a few excess pounds.

   The ketogenic diet works by redirecting your body’s primary energy source from carbohydrates to fat. According to dietdoctor.com, when on keto, carbs are cut down to 5 percent, and fat intake increases up to 75 percent. To put that into perspective, it’s like eating two saltine crackers for every stick of butter!

    By doing this, your body begins to be less reliant on carbs for calories, therefore, energy. Fat takes over, and your body begins to break down the stored fat deposits within itself to satiate any caloric needs: this is where the rapid weight loss comes in. However, it is not entirely fat like we may think.

    Tricia Montgomery, a certified Registered Dietician and a professor of Health Sciences at PVCC, stated in an interview “that initial weight loss is fat, but also water, glycogen store loss, and mineral loss.”

    So, are there any benefits other than losing weight?

    Yes. In fact, there are several benefits aside from weight loss. For starters, the fatty macronutrients are much more difficult for your body to process than carbs are. This leaves the dieter to feel fuller and more satisfied for longer, Montgomery states, therefore helping suppress cravings.

    One of the biggest and most popular cases for the ketogenic diet is how well it works to control epilepsy in children. Children who suffer from refractory seizures while in ketosis are proven to experience them much less, according to the UK Epilepsy Society.

    “After three months [on the keto diet], 4 in 10 (40%) children who started the diet had the number of their seizures reduced by over half,” stated the UK Epilepsy Society in an article on their website. “Some had other benefits such as increased alertness, awareness and responsiveness.”

    Another benefit, according to the Harvard Health Blog, is that this diet “has been shown to improve blood sugar control for patients with type 2 diabetes.” Luckily for those with type 2 diabetes, the keto diet practically forces you to cut out sugar, processed or otherwise.

    This is a double edged sword, unfortunately, because those with type 1 diabetes may suffer deadly side-effects, such as ketoacidosis, wherein Mayo Clinic states that the decreased insulin levels lead to an excess amount of ketones, and not enough glucose.

    That being said, there are risks involved. According to Environmental Health, the first thing a person on this diet may experience is something called the “Ketosis Flu,” which is within the first week of beginning keto. During this period, the body is adjusting to this new method of obtaining energy, so a few symptoms are expected. These include “bad breath, dry mouth, increased hunger, and excessive urination.” For most, these all pass after just a few days.

    Long-term risks of a ketogenic diet are much more serious, however, and may have a higher impact to some individuals. For instance, there is a chance of increasing bad cholesterol, due to the increase in saturated fat intake, which is linked to heart disease. However, Montgomery states this can be combated by simply eating healthy, unsaturated fats, such as nuts, oils, and avocados.

    “Eat your fiber and low-carb veggies,” she says. “Getting a balance of all those things that you’re eliminating from your diet, you need to carefully plan.”

     This diet may also create certain deficiencies – specifically for micronutrients; constipation, kidney problems and worsening liver conditions are also some risks.

    Overall, this diet is best implemented short-term, for quick weight loss. It is not a sustainable nor a permanent lifestyle change that should be made, as the consequences get increasingly harmful the longer it is pursued. It is also very difficult to maintain this diet over the long term, but more and more studies are coming out, and the data is promising.

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The Keto Diet has more benefits and risks than you think