What to know before trying the keto diet

Published: Jun. 1, 2020 at 10:54 AM EDT
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(06/01/2020) -- You’ve probably heard of the keto diet … the popular eating plan that encourages you to consume high-protein foods and fats while steering clear of carbohydrates. It can lead to dramatic weight loss, but there are some things to consider before you jump on the next band wagon.

You name the diet and Gail Gedan has been on it.

“I remember a lollipop diet where you would eat a lollipop in between meals," smiled Gail.

And Gail is not the only one.

“The number of people losing weight or stating that they have tried to lose weight over the past year is 50 percent,” shared Ellen Schur, MD, MS, Associate Professor of Medicine, UW Medicine.

One of the most popular diets is the keto. It’s an eating craze that has many Americans hooked. The high-fat, high-protein, low-carb keto diet might help you lose weight, but there could be drawbacks.

For one, fewer fruits and veggies, you’ll likely miss out on vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other vital compounds. There’s also something called the “keto flu” that happens when you restrict carbs. This may cause fatigue, poor sleep, dizziness, and constipation.

Many people report bad breath while on the diet due to the breakdown of certain acids.

Another negative? Experts don’t know the long-term effects of the diet.

Going keto could also impact athletic performance. In a recent study, people who followed the keto diet for four days performed worse on high-intensity exercises compared to those on a high-carb diet. In another experiment, Australian scientists tracked elite athletes on the keto diet and found they had increased signs of bone breakdown. Those on a high-carb diet didn’t see these changes.

The keto diet was first introduced in the 1920’s as a way to treat epilepsy. It somewhat fell out of popularity with the introduction of anti-seizure drugs but picked up steam in the last few years as a weight loss diet.

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