A keto diet is a diet that contains high amounts of good fats, a proportionate amount of protein, and a low amount of carbohydrates. The macronutrients are approximately divided into portions of 60-70 % of fats, 20-30 % of proteins, and the remaining 5-10 % of carbohydrates. This diet was first used by Russel Wilder to treat patients with epilepsy. He also gave the name ‘Ketogenic diet’. Almost for a decade, the ketogenic diet was relished in the field of medical science as a therapeutic measure for treating epilepsy, until the time it got out for antiepileptic measures like rapid weight loss. Why was it favored so much for weight loss, so much so that till date populations are in craze for this diet? What does it actually do?
Ketosis is a metabolic state in which your body starts using ketones as a source of energy rather than using the primary source of energy, carbohydrates, due to the lowered amounts of carbohydrates consumed. Ketones are acid by-products of fat molecules which break down in conditions where your body cannot source energy from glucose anymore. Ketones become your body’s primary source of energy, the energy that is required for the brain and other parts of your body to function optimally. Here, because of a shift from metabolism to ketosis, your body completely relies on fat for glucose as its source of energy. This leads to faster fat burning and this is why the ketogenic diet has taken over millions of people for the results it has been showing off in both the medical and wellness industry. But is it safe to be on long-term ketosis except for the part where it helps in reducing the levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL, and glucose to a significant level? What are the long-term ketosis risks, and are there any?
The commonly known side effects of ketosis are:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Struggling to exercise
These symptoms resolve with the right fluid intake and supplementation but the effects of long-term ketosis like hepatic steatosis, hypoproteinemia, kidney stones, and vitamin and mineral deficiencies could take a long time to recover from and may lead to many visits to the emergency room too.
The dangers of long-term ketosis are rare as compliance to this diet, in the long run, is low and due to limited literature and scientific research, risks of long-term ketosis are not well established. Few studies indicate the administration of long-term ketosis to be safe under supervision while some do not. Contradictory factors lead to one conclusion, any individual driven to change their lifestyle can try doing a minimum of 2-3 weeks or can go up to 6-12 months on a ketogenic diet with the help of a nutrition expert.
Few tips to avoid long term ketosis risks-
- Keep a close eye on kidney functioning
- Take the right micronutrient supplementation
- Replenish fluid and electrolyte intake from time to time.
- Ensure that the transition from a ketogenic diet to a normal diet is gradual and controlled
While this diet has been helping millions medically and health-wise for decades, ketosis is favoured in both the short-term and long-term by researchers in modern times.
- Masood W, Annamaraju P, Uppaluri KR. Ketogenic Diet. In: StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing; 2022. Accessed April 5, 2022. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499830/
- Dashti HM, Mathew TC, Hussein T, et al. Long-term effects of a ketogenic diet in obese patients. Exp Clin Cardiol. 2004;9(3):200-205.