The Keto Diet Needs to DIe-Out
The Keto diet restricts individuals from taking in too many carbs, instead favoring fats for supposed weight-loss. (Image by zuzyusa from Pixabay)

It’s Time for Mass Keto Dieting To Die-Out

The popular lifestyle has been proven to be ineffective for weight-loss time and time again, but it remains one the top diets in the U.S.

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The Keto Diet Needs to DIe-Out

The popular lifestyle has been proven to be ineffective for weight-loss time and time again, but it remains one the top diets in the U.S.

“Keto” was the most Googled food-related word in 2018. Since then, its popularity skyrocketed. The term, which is short for ketogenic diet, is a weight-loss plan that requires the extreme limitation of carbs and increase of fats in one’s meals. According to Harvard research, the restrictions lead to a diet consisting of “70-80% fat.” That makes dairy, poultry and nuts popular food choices for participants.

In recent years, celebrities like Halle Berry, Vanessa Hudgens and Kourtney Kardashian have done keto and experienced rapid weight loss. In an Instagram story from 2020, Kardashian wrote, “My Dr. has me do it for brief periods to help detox metals or toxins.”

A 2019 study conducted by registered dietitians revealed that keto was the number one diet in the United States. Despite several professionals not recommending it, keto earned its title as the number one diet because it was so popular with the public. In fact, the U.S. News & World Report ranked the 39 most popular diets from best to worst based on health benefits: Keto ranked 37th. Some of the reasons that it is ranked so low are because it is “minimally effective” when it comes to heart health, “extremely hard” to follow through with, “below average” for weight-loss success and “extremely incomplete” for both safety and nutritional benefits.

Despite the arguments that it is not beneficial for long-term health, it remains at the top of the fad diet pyramid. The only category that keto ranked highly in was “short-term weight loss,” which is considered less than two years.

The History of Keto

If the “Wizard of Oz” was made in 2021, the premise would be bagels, pasta and toast, oh my!” Since the Atkins diet craze in the 1970s, carbohydrates remained enemy number one. Low-carb diets gained traction, and different versions of them like South Beach and paleo rose in popularity.

Keto originated with innocent intentions in the 1800s to help those with diabetes control their blood sugar levels. Then, in the 1920s, children with epilepsy began receiving orders from their doctors to go on the ketogenic diet. The diet forces your body into a state of “ketosis,” which is a time when the body produces more ketones for the bloodstream so that they can fuel the brain. This means that the body is burning sugars. Normally, one’s body will naturally produce the correct number of ketones necessary for daily function. But those on keto will produce many more.

However, creating too many ketones can hurt the person. The process may even put them in a position of “ketoacidosis,” where they excrete ketones from the kidney.

Keto’s New Target Demographic

Due to its emphasis on reducing carb intake, the diet accrued interest from the general public after its creation. It does stand out from other low-carb diets, however, in that fat is the endorsed macronutrient rather than protein. This unique distinction keeps it from competing harshly with other types of diets. Keto remains relevant because the general public uses it as a weight-loss technique. Companies like Highkey, Ketoned Bodies and Pete’s Paleo sell low-carb foods targeted at fad dieters so they can snack without “cheating” or consuming too many carbs.

Diet companies profit from promises to help their customers lose weight and look the way they desire, but the longer people yo-yo diet, the more money the companies make. Experts expect that by 2027, the keto diet market will increase to $15.6 billion a year. That is also why keto, ranked number four in short-term diets, is the perfect market for snack companies. Keto is not sustainable for the average person. It is a fast way to shed pounds but does not promote long-term health or weight loss.

The Personal Impacts of Keto

There are different kinds of health. But — in physical terms — is keto a healthy diet? If only health was that black and white. Carbohydrates are an important macronutrient for the human body’s functionality and they help to provide energy to the brain — and keto strictly limits them. Abstaining from carbs can help you lose weight quickly. But a healthy lifestyle means finding a sustainable way to live, not an extreme or restrictive one.

In the case of someone who simply wants to do a “carb detox” rather than a long diet, registered dietitians often disagree on the topic of detoxes and flushes. However, if one’s body works properly, produces the correct amount of insulin, digests carbs well and isn’t taking in toxins like smoke or excessive alcohol, there is no need for a “keto detox.” Their bodies are already doing the necessary work.

In terms of its impact on mental health, that is for each person to determine on their own. Some questions to ask yourself before embarking on a keto journey include: “Would my close friends be happy for me?” “Is this going to harm my relationship with food?” “Should I address my fear of carbs in a healthier manner?” “Will cutting out the majority of my carb intake worsen my overall quality of life or inhibit my body’s necessary functionality?”

Mental health is important and should be seriously considered and discussed with your doctor before participating in a fad diet like keto.

 

While each person’s health is unique, there are healthier ways to lose weight than the keto diet. Unless there are extenuating circumstances and keto is one’s medical recommendation, there are other ways to establish healthy habits that do not require the sacrifice of carbs and overabundance of fats. But as the famous cook Julia Child once said, If you’re afraid of butter, use cream!”

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Briana Byus

Biola University
Journalism & Integrated Media

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