The ketogenic diet, more commonly called keto, is the subject of yet another study, one that has linked this eating protocol with several major potential long-term health consequences. The study, which comes from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, is described as the most comprehensive analysis of the diet to date.
The keto diet, put simply, involves eating large quantities of high-quality fat, moderate amounts of protein, and low quantities of carbohydrates. The diet is notable for helping control epilepsy in some people, as well as a way to quickly lose weight by forcing the body to enter a state called ketosis.
Despite some controversy about it, the keto diet has managed to sustain popularity among those who swear by its alleged benefits, including weight loss, blood sugar control, and more. Many studies on the diet have resulted, some finding possible health benefits and others linking the diet with potential health consequences.
The new analysis acknowledges these possible health benefits but ultimately notes that they may not outweigh the potential long-term consequences of sticking with the keto diet. This applies to “most people,” according to the study, which found that long-term keto diet risks may include serious conditions like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.
The review’s lead author, Lee Crosby RD, had harsh words for the diet, calling it a “disease-promoting disaster,” going on to state that restricting whole grains, veggies, fruits, and legumes while eating excessive amounts of saturated fat, red meat, and processed meat “is a recipe for bad health.”
The comprehensive review produced five key findings related to health, including that for many patients, eating a keto diet raised their bad cholesterol levels. Likewise, people with kidney disease may experience kidney failure more rapidly when on a high-protein keto diet, the analysis found, and pregnant women face potential neural tube defects in their babies even with folic acid supplementation.
Beyond that, the study also found that by restricting the number of carbohydrates one eats on the keto diet, they’ll skew their overall diet more heavily toward foods that increase cancer risk. Beyond that, the researchers note that the kinds of food commonly eaten on the keto diet have also been linked to other serious diseases, as well, including diabetes and heart disease.
The researchers acknowledge that the keto diet can “reduce body weight short term,” but also point out that it hasn’t been found more effective than other weight loss diets like calorie restriction. As mentioned, the keto diet has been used to treat epilepsy in some people who don’t respond well to drugs, and the researchers say this is the only “well-supported use” for the diet.