Keto diet is one of the most popular diets because it is generally easy to follow. However depriving your body from carbs and eating foods high in fat can have harmful side effects. Dr Deborah Lee has shared with the Express.co.uk why keto diet may not be suitable for everyone and how losing weight is as simple as exercise and eating a healthy balanced diet.
The expert explains how bodies are quite happy to be in ketosis. It is perfectly safe but it is recommended to be medically supervised while following the diet.
She says: “Ketones make you feel less hungry, for reasons that are not entirely understood, so when you get into ketosis, most people feel well and do not have the same cravings for food.” You can follow a keto diet plan by eating normal foods which are high in fat like red meat, cheese, cream and butter.
However there are serious downsides to the keto diet. Dr Lee says: “Nutritionists do not regard the keto diet as a healthy diet…On the keto diet, you only eat small quantities of fruit and vegetables. This is not good for your health because these foods are a major source of antioxidants
“Antioxidants are specialist molecules which have a very important role in your body to counteract oxidative stress – this is the mechanism in our bodies which underlies the development of many serious diseases such as diabetes, dementia, heart disease, and cancer. We should all be eating more antioxidants – not less.
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“On the keto diet, you eat large quantities of fat, such as fats found in red meat and full-fat dairy products. However, these are saturated fats and trans fats, which have been shown to increase your risk of atherosclerosis – the main cause heart disease and strokes.
“For many years, nutritionists have recommended eating less saturated fats and more unsaturated fats – which are plant-based fats, such as olive oil. Many high-fat meat products are ready-made, processed foods which contain high levels of salt and additives, also bad news for health.
Deborah explains: “Around 50 percent of our diet is typically made up of carbs, but on the keto diet, only 10 percent of your diet are carbs. You may well find it difficult to stick to such a low-carb intake.
“A diet containing 10 percent carbohydrates, equates to only 20g carbs per day. This is a tiny amount, for example, there are 20 g carbs in just half a hamburger bun or one small potato! And that’s it folks – for a whole 24 hours! Cutting carbs is often associated with unpleasant side effects – read on and find out about ‘keto-flu’.”
Deborah says: “When you limit carbs, you tend to lose water, which increases your risk of dehydration. It can be laborious having to continually drink large amounts of water.
“For example, on Lighter Life, you are recommended to drink at least 4L per day – if you add some black tea and black coffee on top – this means numerous trips to the bathroom – sometimes difficult if you are at work, or travelling.”
The expert says: “In the first few days or weeks on the diet, you may experience side effects as your body settles into ketosis. This is known as keto-hunger or keto-flu, and its pretty unpleasant…Suggestions to help you get through the keto flu stage include increasing your fluid intake, increasing your salt intake, and adding in multivitamins.”
Deborah explains: “Only around 20% of people who successfully lose weight, keep it off long term. This means after a time, the weight creeps back on, and they need to try and lose weight again – so-called ‘yo-yo’ dieting.Although some attempts at weight loss are better than none, the ultimate goal is to re-educate the mind and the body to a lifetime healthy eating pattern so you can lose weight, and then maintain a healthy weight.
“The keto diet has been criticised for encouraging yo-yo dieting. Although some experts believe weight cycling may be bad for health, a recent review of the medical evidence suggests this is probably not the case. Yo-yo dieting is unlikely to be higher risk than the risk of continuing to be obese.”
Other downsides including low fibre, no alcohol, complicated, hair falling out and following the diet can be very expensive.
Dr Lee continues: “When you decide to stop the keto diet, it’s not easy. You may feel incredible cravings to stuff yourself with carbs! Reintroducing carbohydrates should be done slowly.
“There is also a tendency to rush and go straight back to how you were eating before the diet and put weight back on very quickly.You need to take advice, plan how to do this, and decide carefully what you are going to eat in the future.”
Maintaining weight loss is difficult for everyone but only 20 percent of people who lose 10 percent of their body weight, keep the weight off for a further 12 months.
Deborah concludes: “Let’s face it, do you really want a diet rated so poorly by nutritionists, which is hard to follow, wrecks your social life, means filling up on fatty foods, and in truth, is no better than any other weight losing diet at helping you lose weight and keep it off?
“The keto diet is not a diet for the faint-hearted. Losing weight on any diet means self-control and commitment, but to stick to the keto diet requires self-control and commitment in Herculean proportions!
“There really is no quick fix about weight loss. We all live life in the fast lane and when we want it, we want it now. Many people think ketosis will be an answer to their prayers, but as we have seen, the keto diet is more of a sadistic ritual!
“In fact – the best way to lose weight is just to do what my mother always told me – and it’s simple. Do regular physical exercise, and follow a healthy, balanced diet.”