Posted by Liz Trondsen

Keto diet, a low-carb high-fat diet, helps in weight loss and offers numerous health benefits. In the first three parts of our Keto diet series, our nutritionist explained the basics of this diet, nutritional information, how it helps in weight loss, and offers health benefits for different people. In the fourth—and last-part of the Keto diet series, we leave you with some vital pieces of information to help you decide if this diet fits your health needs.

People lose weight and feel healthy on various meal patterns, but you must select the eating plan that works best for you and meets all your nutritional needs. The Keto diet is very restrictive and requires careful planning to ensure nutritional needs are being met. Before starting a Keto diet—or any new diet—it is important to:

  1. Discuss the new diet with your doctor to make sure there are no contraindications to the diet.
  2. If you’re currently on medication, discuss continuous usage prior to starting the diet.
  3. Your doctor should monitor the bone health and ensure that you are getting all the required nutrition.
  4. Work with a Registered Dietitian to ensure nutritional needs are being met through healthy food choices and that nutrient supplementation is important. There are also issues with electrolytes such as sodium, potassium and magnesium that must be addressed.

What is the Possibility of Harm with This Diet?

There are significant side effects when first starting the Keto diet, which is commonly called the ‘Keto flu’. People experience nausea, headache, constipation, fatigue, and hunger. These symptoms may persist for the first month, but usually subside after that. In addition, many developed fatty liver (an eating disorder) and gastrointestinal problems, including constipation. There is concern for muscle loss and electrolyte imbalance as well.

Maintaining overall nutritional needs is a concern for those who follow the Keto diet. Many of the carbohydrates eliminated from the diet contain several essential nutrients which are necessary in a healthy diet. Even though a multivitamin is recommended for those following this diet, a multivitamin does not provide all of the nutrients supplied in fruits, vegetables and starches which are not a part of Keto diet. To follow a Keto diet for any length of time, you must be very careful to include all sources of nutrients in their food choices.

Because a Keto diet can improve glycemic control and blood pressure, lower doses of medications may be needed as a person continues this diet. Some people may eventually be able to stop medications altogether. However, it is necessary to be monitored by your doctor to avoid episodes of hypoglycemia or hypotension.

What About Long Term?

While Keto diet helps with weight loss, there are no clear answers on the long-term effects of this diet. Experts are concerned over the effects of this diet on renal function, the liver, bone metabolism, as well as possible nutrient deficiencies with long term use. Experts also worry about the high consumption of fat in this diet, which may lead to a higher risk of heart disease.

There are no long-term studies to provide solid answers; the longest studies performed so far have been 12 months in duration. There are, however, many anecdotal stories from people who have followed the diet for at least a year. Most state they gained back any weight lost while following this diet.

While Keto diet—or any form of meal pattern—has pros and cons, it is essential to consult with your healthcare professional team to ensure that the meal pattern fits your health needs, meets your nutritional requirements, and benefits your body in the long-term. After all, a healthy body is a combination of the right diet, regular exercise, and a healthy lifestyle.

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