The keto diet has squillions of fans across the planet who profess its effectiveness, including high-powered celebrities such as LeBron James. Nutritionists, however, are up in arms about its long-term health effects. Sure, the keto diet is effective as a fast way to lose weight in a short period of time, but doctors and nutritionists say it cannot be sustained in the long term because of its lack of nutrition.
What is keto?
Keto is short for ketosis or the metabolic state your body undergoes when your liver uses up stored fat to produce ketones for energy. That is one of the key functions of the liver—to use this alternative source of energy when your body loses its usual source of energy or carbohydrates. However, it is like forcing your liver to undergo a survival state. It only produces ketones when your carb intake severely drops down.
You gain all the weight you lost if you stop.
Considering that keto forces you to eliminate all the healthy sources of carbohydrates from your diet (fruit, wheat, bread, etc.), there will come a time when you will not be able to sustain it, for health reasons. For example, a keto diet tends to raise your body's uric acid levels, especially when your diet consists mostly of meat. That is not all. According to some experts, it also causes you to regain weight faster once you stop.
"Losing weight fast by using a severely restricted, silly, unbalanced diet inevitably leads to even faster weight regain," says Dr. David Katz, president of True Health Initiative, as reported by CNN. One small cheat will cause your body to regain as much weight as it can, because that's how it was programmed to be.
The National Lipid Association Nutrition and Lifestyle Task Force also reviewed all the low-carb and very low-carb diets and affirmed that these are less effective compared with other diets when it comes to weight loss, even raising cholesterol levels in some cases.
"What the early studies have shown is that there are early benefits in terms of weight loss and glucose control, but in the few studies that have gone on for 12 months, the benefit in comparison to other diet approaches diminishes and is no longer statistically significant," said Christopher Gardner, researcher of low-carb diets at Stanford Prevention Research Center.
Despite its current popularity, the keto diet promises very little when it comes to long-term benefits. You lose weight very fast at first, and then you plateau. Once you stop, you regain weight in a snap.