10 Apr New York Registered Dietitian Takes a Critical Look at the Keto Craze
Diet crazes abound, and in 2018 and 2019, it’s all about the Keto. Halle Berry and Kourtney Kardashian are poster girls for the Keto Diet. There are even articles dedicated to what Halle Berry eats in a 24-hour period.
Let’s backtrack. For those who don’t browse the magazine racks in the checkout line, you might have heard about the keto craze but might not know what it’s really about. Some might be aware of the term ketosis. Ketosis happens when the body doesn’t have enough glucose for energy, so it burns fat instead.
How can this be a bad thing?
I just crashed my head against the keyboard.
The Keto diet is a bit of an Atkins’ diet recycled. The Mayo Clinic explains it’s a very high-fat, low-carb diet. Not just low – extremely low. Instead of following the Dietary Guidelines for Americans’ recommended 45 – 60% of daily calories coming from carbohydrates, the keto diet reduces carbs to 20 – 50 grams a day, between 10- 20% of what is recommended.
What does this mean?
As with any new diet, people who follow keto find results. But we have to take a critical look at why:
- Reducing carbs reduces the array of food choices necessary to get the nutrients we need. The keto diet all but erases fiber-rich grains, vegetables, legumes, fruits and starchy vegetables from our diets. This, then, can really affect our digestion and gut health. Americans are already low on necessary fiber. Fiber, found in complex carbohydrates, reduces the risk of constipation and helps with digestion.
- With such a huge reduction of food options, people eat less. Lack of variety often leads to weight loss, but at the cost of our bodies missing out on valuable nutrients (point #1).
- The less we eat, the slower our resting metabolic rate. And by severely limiting food options and losing weight too fast, we’re putting a huge kink in our metabolisms that are likely to never recover.
- Any diet trend that focuses on weight loss and not health is problematic. And, precisely, this is the essence of the keto diet. This is a BIG ISSUE for me, as you all know by now. The focus of anything we do should be on whole body health and developing a healthy relationship with food. Just the word “diet” makes me uncomfortable.
The keto diet has been used since the 1920s for epilepsy, with success. But by following such a restricted diet, we’re losing out on critical nutrients. More matters! Variety matters.
Before diving into any diet trend, please consider discussing it with your health care professional or a registered dietician. Remember, health first and health at every size!