With September and the end of the holidays, the routine and the resolutions for the new course return. Among them, many people say they eat better or follow a specific diet. We have already told you the tricks and diets that you do not need to try because they have no scientific basis and do not work, but today we will talk about the keto diet.
- What is the keto or ketogenic diet?
- Eating more high-fat foods
- What would be an example of a daily menu on a keto diet?
- Difficult to follow in the long term and it is unknown if it has a yo-yo effect
- The dangers that it entails in certain people
- Maldita Clinic: Do you have questions about health-related issues?
One that is talked about a lot is the keto or ketogenic diet, which consists of drastically reducing carbohydrate consumption. Although for certain people it may be effective in the short term provided it is performed with the help of a nutritionist, there are not enough studies on its long-term efficacy due to its low adherence. In addition, it can lead to a series of risks in certain people or side effects. We tell you everything we know about it.
What is the keto or ketogenic diet?
Dietitian-nutritionist Daniel Ursúa explains to Damn science what the keto or ketogenic diet is not new. It was first called the Atkins diet (several decades ago) and now it is back under the name keto.
To explain what a keto diet is, you have to know a little about how the metabolism of the human body works, the series of reactions by which the nutrients we eat in food are converted into energy that allows the body to carry out all its functions. In that series of reactions, the most common fuel is glucose that the body extracts from carbohydrates.
But evolution has given us human resources to face different scenarios, according to Ursúa: “In a generic way, our body uses carbohydrates as fuel, but if for whatever reason (in this case by our own choice) we do not have access to them, the body has mechanisms to continue obtaining energy, we do not die ”.
In other words, although this is the main source of energy and the one the body uses first, it is not the only one possible. Another option is the ketone bodies, that the body obtains by processing body fat when the carbohydrate intake is not enough. When the body turns to them, it is when it is in a ketosis state.
A keto or ketogenic diet is the one in which precisely that state of ketosis is achieved based on drastically reducing the carbohydrate intake in your diet to force your body to turn to fat to function.
Eating more high-fat foods
The dietitian-nutritionist Elisa Escorihuela tells Damn science than on a ketogenic diet fats represent between 70% and 80% of what is consumed; proteins, between 20% and 25%; and carbohydrates, between 5% and 10%.
|Dinner||Broccoli sautéed with parmesan cheese + salmon fillet|
grilled + ounce of dark chocolate (70-80% cocoa)
Luis Pastor Marcos, a specialist in Family and Community Medicine and nutrition expert suggests Damn science another menu. Breakfast may contain eggs, nuts, unsweetened yogurt, or peanut butter. The meal could be a vegetable salad with spinach, cabbage, avocado, tuna, olives, or cheese. Also, a grilled chicken breast with mixed tomatoes and vegetables. Dinner could contain grilled or grilled salmon with broccoli or cauliflower or roasted zucchini.
Difficult to follow in the long term and it is unknown if it has a yo-yo effect
This review of studies indicates that while there is some research indicating that a ketogenic diet achieves greater short-term weight loss than low-fat diets, there is still not enough data on the possible yo-yo effect, in which periods of overweight are interspersed with strict diets and weight loss that is later regained (and often increased).
According to this review, the duration of the ketogenic diet can range from a minimum of two to three weeks to a maximum of several months (from six to 12 months) “following the general precautionary principle”.
Alma Palau, president of the General Council of Official Associations of Dietitians-Nutritionists and coordinator of the Nutrition and Dietetics Clinic of the Catholic University of Valencia, explains to Damn science what “There are no long-term studies because adherence to the diet is practically unsustainable beyond two or three months, while a low-fat diet can become a new eating style.” According to her account, this is due in part to the great change that this diet implies in food choices.
“Do you lose weight in the short term? Yes. Is that what we should look for in a diet? No, ”says Ursúa. The expert considers it essential to understand that The key to any change in habits is to maintain adherence in the long term: “Weight is not the variable to take into account when assessing health, so it should not be the reference.”
The ketogenic diet, he says, it is very difficult to follow in the long run. In this sense, this study highlights the low adherence to this type of diet among people with cancer (in addition to concluding that there is no scientific evidence that it improves metabolism or quality of life in cancer patients).
As we have explained in Damn science, drastic diets are not the best option if what we want is to lose weight in a sustainable way since it is difficult to follow them for a long time and, if we do not change the diet to healthier patterns, it is very likely that the lost weight will be recovered quickly.
The dangers that it entails in certain people
Escorihuela explains that the keto diet can be very effective for weight loss and very satisfying. Even so, “It is not valid for everyone and is not without its dangers”. Hence, it is recommended, “that always be guided by a nutritionist ”.
This review concludes that the ketogenic diet can be a useful tool for treating obesity in the hands of a physician. The experts consulted agree that following a keto diet does not have to be dangerous in a person without previous pathologies and without problems in their relationship with food.
Yes, this diet it is not recommended in people with diabetes or kidney problems, according to Ursúa. Nor does it advise a person who has tried to lose weight in different ways or at risk of suffering from an eating disorder, since “it has not shown special efficacy in the long term and these types of people the last thing they need is a new failure in his attempt to change habits ”.
Pastor explains that following this diet can have side effects “Produced by the acidosis that is generated when making ketone bodies.” For example, according to the specialist, it can produce a loss of appetite, stomach pain, nausea or vomiting, fruity breath odor, shortness of breath, dry mouth, and general listlessness.
On the Internet, they have promoted pills that supposedly contain exogenous ketones. That is, they provide the body with ketone bodies that must serve as fuel for the body in the absence of glucose derived from carbohydrates. As we have already told you in Damn science, there is no evidence that these pills help you lose weight.