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Eating Fat to Lose Weight—Pros and Cons of the Ketogenic Diet

For years, low-fat diets were all the rage; but now, fat is making a comeback. One of the more popular high-fat diets is the ketogenic diet. On the ketogenic diet, at least 70% of daily calories come from fat, 5 to 10% come from carbs, and up to 25% come from protein. These calorie percentages are achieved by eating lots of eggs cooked in butter; meat; chicken; fish; and green vegetables with oily dressing—while avoiding pretty much everything else. The idea is that when your body can’t make the energy it needs from carbs, it burns stored fat instead, which may result in weight loss. While some research does support the ketogenic diet’s weight-loss claims over the short-term, other research has found that, over the long-term, it’s no better than other weight-loss diets. So, should you give it a try? That depends on your dieting preferences and your healthcare practitioner’s recommendations. Here are some pros and cons reported on by the Washington Post to help you decide:

Pros:

  • No calorie-counting. The ketogenic diet limits types of foods, not calories or portion sizes.
  • No hunger pangs. One study found that the ketogenic diet lowers gherlin, a hormone that makes you hungry—so you may feel full longer.
  • May be heart healthy. Some research has found that low-carb diets may lower triglyceride and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels, raise HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels, and reduce the risk of heart disease. However, any successful weight-loss intervention will generally result in these improvements.

Cons:

  • Can be a downer. The ketogenic menu is limited, so it can get repetitive. It can also make socializing hard: having a drink or splitting a dessert is off limits.
  • Could cause deficiencies. This diet cuts out lots of foods, so it may be difficult to get adequate amounts of nutrients like calcium, magnesium, selenium, B vitamins, and vitamins D and C, as well as plant polyphenols and other phytonutrients. Low fiber intake can also be a problem and may cause digestive issues like constipation. In addition, some studies have linked long-term adherence to the ketogenic diet with disordered calcium metabolism, bone loss, and kidney stones.
  • Not safe for all. People with preexisting health conditions should speak with their doctor before trying this diet. It may be unsafe for those with kidney issues, or for pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Source: Washington Post

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