With obesity and generalized unhealthy eating habits being a major health concern in America, many people turn to diets as a solution. These diets go through various phases of popularity, and one of the most recently hyped diets is the ketogenic diet.

Consisting of a food plan that is low in carbohydrates and high in fat, the keto diet works to put your body into a state of ketosis, allowing you to become more efficient at burning fat.

Meals on the keto diet typically consist of eggs, seafood, meat and poultry, cheese, avocado and other low-carb food items. The goal of this low-carbohydrate diet is to put the dieter’s body into a state that allows them to build more muscle; for this reason it is meant to be used as an athlete’s diet.

The keto diet works by limiting carbohydrate intake (eating less than 50 to 100 grams per day) which limits the amount of glucose the body can use to turn into ATP and use for energy. In the absence of this glucose, the body will begin to have Acetyl Coenzyme A build up (one of the intermediary products in the breakdown of glucose).

The Acetyl CoA is unable to go through one of the stages of glucose breakdown, which puts your body into a state called ketosis. This is the goal of the ketogenic diet: to put your body into ketosis and burn fat more efficiently. The body switches from its preferred method of glucose breakdown and begins using ketone bodies for energy.

However, if not managed properly, the production of ketone bodies can lead to dangerous side-effects. For example, high levels of ketones can cause dehydration, bone loss, blood acidosis and kidney stones, and could lead to death.

Thus, this diet is typically only recommended under medical supervision for very specific medical conditions. With the newfound craze for the ketogenic diet, though, there is an increased risk of people not being adequately educated about the risks of the diet itself, leading to worse overall health outcomes than when the individual started the diet.

While the diet works for some people, it does not work for everyone.

First, the diet is low in carbohydrates, which can lead to lowered fertility and irregular, or completely stopped, menstrual cycles.
Second, if the diet is paired with excessive exercise, it can actually lead to muscle catabolism, which is the breaking down of muscle.

The diet can also reduce the amount of muscle-building hormones in the body, limiting the growth of new muscle. This is due to lowered levels of insulin, which is necessary to create an anabolic muscle environment (an environment that will allow muscle to build up) because of higher levels of glycogen (the stored form of glucose) in the muscles.

Education on risks and benefits of diets are needed before individuals undertake them.

Health fads will not solve health problems, but learning to have healthy lifestyles and having a healthy relationship with food will.

If someone is planning on starting the keto diet, they should consult with a medical professional and see if it is right for them, and continue to have check ups while on the diet to ensure you are not at risk for the negative impacts of this diet.

While diet crazes may look fun or interesting to participate in, it is crucial to do thorough research on all of the effects of a diet, considering how it might affect your body holistically and not just one factor.

A healthy lifestyle contains a complete picture of balance, any methodology that ignores components of nutrition, exercise or mental health is sure to not provide the complete results that its participants are seeking.

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