Are Keto Diets Really Safe?
Following up on the earlier post that explored the questions of whether keto diets are healthy or unhealthy, we gathered so much information and feedback that it seemed important to share it. We even created an infographic about the safety of keto diets because it seemed like a good way to communicate some of the most important points.
Are Keto Diets Safe? The Infographic!
First, let’s look at some key facts about the keto diet.
Calories Still Matter
You can read any keto diet forum to find people posting about their failure to lose weight beyond the initial loss of water weight. Dozens of other keto fans will reply that the complainers are probably still eating too many calories a day to lose weight. Avoiding carbohydrates isn’t a free pass to eat unlimited calories and still lose weight, and everybody knows this. Dr. Atkins even posted about it in his book.
If the keto diet has any benefits, proponents say that consuming a lot of protein and fat help their cravings and encourage them to eat less. One has to wonder about the incredible keto diet failure rate if it really works that well.
You might want to read this study published on the National Institute of Health before you decide that a keto diet is safe for pregnant women. Tests performed on pregnant mice found significant differences in embryo’s organ development when the mother ate a keto diet vs. a more standard one.
The Diabetes Council went as far as to say as keto diets are inappropriate for pregnant women, nursing mothers, or people with kidney disease. Typical diabetes diets do limit carbs, but they usually allow more carbohydrates in one meal than typical keto dieters eat all day. Also, concerns have been raised about keto diets and hypothyroidism. Anyway, if you are pregnant or have another medical issue, talk to your doctor before trying a keto diet.
Are You Physically Active?
There have been some notable exceptions, but most people don’t perform as well on a keto diet. Almost everybody endures a sluggish period while they are getting used to this very low-carb diet as well.
One study on keto and physical performance found that it compromised peak performance and endurance slightly. Average participants in this study lost about five pounds, but half of that was muscle. While these may be risks worth taking for weekend warriors, they may matter a lot more to top-level athletes.
What you eat directly influences your gut biome health. A keto diet will absolutely make your digestive ecosystem less diverse. Of course, this may not be true if you manage to eat plenty of fiber. Since lots of high-fiber food, like starchy vegetables, are off limits to keto dieters, this can take some work. You can read what Dr. Kresser has to say on the issue here.
The Keto Diet is Strict and Often Results in Yo-Yo Dieting
People who are relatively healthy and not planning on getting pregnant might consider a keto diet. However, this diet is very strict. Carbs might be restricted to fewer than 20 grams a day. Two slices of bread, one banana, or a potato will cause you to go over. Since carbs hold onto water, eliminating them may help you lose five to ten pounds quickly, but again, that’s just water and not fat.
Then you get stuck, post on a forum, and everybody will tell you that you eat too much. Anyway, yo-yo dieting is a big problem, and when you fall off the wagon, you’ll tend to gain back more weight than you lost in the first place. Realistically, this is one of the biggest safety problems with a keto diet. It might help people lose weight and even balance insulin levels, if they can stick to it. Since most people won’t keep eating this way for the rest of their life, it can cause more problems than it solves.
Summary of Potential Negative Side Effects of a Keto Diet
This summary of possible keto diet negatives doesn’t include those negative side effects that people with health conditions might experience. That’s why it’s important to work with a doctor or professional dietician to manage any serious health condition. These are simply some downsides that reasonably health experience when they decide to follow a very low-carbohydrate diet plan.
The potential negative side effects of a keto diet are listed here:
- Mental and physical sluggish feelings. While your body adjust its metabolism to a new way of eating, you will probably experience low-energy periods and what many keto dieters experience as brain flog. It gets so bad that some people describe the symptoms as the “keto flu.” These symptoms may go away after a few weeks, but it takes some people longer than others.
- Changes in blood-lipid profiles: Some folks lower their cholesterol over time, but others find that their numbers actually get worse. Even though these low-carb diets call for eating a lot of fat, the kinds of fat you eat might play some part in the different results studies have found. In any case, you license to eat plenty of fat and protein isn’t the same as a license to eat a lot of saturated fat and processed food.
- Nutrient deficiencies: Keto diet plans may come with advice to add extra supplements for nutrients and fiber. In my opinion, any diet that relies upon supplements to keep people from starving isn’t a great diet plan.
- Might trigger ketoacidosis in vulnerable people: Most people don’t think that non-diabetics have a big risk of getting sick from changing the PH levels of their body chemistry. On the other hand, the American Diabetes Association says that plenty of type 2 diabetics have not yet been diagnosed. Again, it’s probably a good idea for most people to pass such an extreme diet as the keto diet past their doctor.
Negative Ecological Impact of High-Animal-Food Diets
Yeah, you already know that seven billion human beings can’t go keto. We’re trying hard not to preach, but you may want to read this article in Earth Island and decide if you want to be part of the problem or the solution. Is the keto diet safe for Earth? You have to know the answer to that question is no if you follow the keto diet by relying upon mostly animal-protein.
Of course, vegetarians and even vegans can enjoy a moderate-carbohydrate diet plan that offers them potential health benefits and more variety. Anyway, this discussion of the environmental impact of more keto dieting should really be the topic of its own article.
Is the Keto Diet Safe for You?
Limiting refined carbs, like cinnamon buns, makes sense for people who want to maintain or lose weight. Limiting entire food groups and restricting carbohydrates to unnatural levels at the expense of eating enough fiber hardly seems sensible. Even proponents say it works because — for them — it curbs cravings. Other folks would have their cravings cured better by a big plate of sweet potatoes.
While a keto diet may be relatively safe for some folks, it doesn’t work well for everybody, and for quite a few people, it may be unsafe. The best advise is to get a checkup first from your doctor and ask them about a diet plan that’s right for you.