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Features of the Keto Diet Essay

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Features of the Keto Diet Essay essay

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The keto diet is a weight loss plan that involves using lipids rather than carbohydrates as immediate sources of energy (Chodosh and Maldarelli). In a typical ketogenic diet, an individual takes in ninety percent of his or her calories as fats, seven percent as proteins, and three percent as carbs. Carbohydrates are the body’s immediate source of energy; when this energy source is depleted, the body turns to stored fats for energy. The idea behind the keto diet is to extremely limit the amount of carbohydrates consumed in order to allow for fat to be burned at a much quicker rate. (“The Ketogenic Diet: One Decade Later.”)

This diet plan was originally created for young kids with epilepsy to slow or stop the seizures. To make up for a lack of carbohydrates the body transfers fat to fatty acid and ketone bodies in the liver. These ketone bodies go to the brain rather than glucose from carbohydrates. The high levels of ketone in the brain and blood are what help reduce the number of seizures. Although this diet is specifically made for individuals who suffer from epilepsy, it has turned into a way to lose weight. Not only is this unnatural but it has multiple very serious side effects. According to Sara Chodosh and Claire Maldarelli, “There’s no shortcut to a healthy diet. Eating balanced meals, tons of fruits and veggies, scant fatty red meats, and no processed junk food requires time and planning” (74). It is important to keep in mind that anything that is placed into the human body could cause harm.

Ketone bodies are what are produced to replace glucose in a ketogenic diet. According to Michael Peters in the A-Z Family Medical Encyclopedia ketone is “…related to acetone (which is found in solvents such as nail polish remover).” If excessive amounts of ketones are built up during the breakdown of food, ketosis could occur. According to the same source, “Ketosis is a potentially serious condition in which excessive amounts of chemicals called ketone accumulate in the body.” Symptoms of ketosis include nausea and abdominal pain. Eventually ketosis could lead to death.

According to Chodosh and Maldarelli (75), people on a ketogenic diet experience a fifty percent increase in artery-clogging low-density lipids and triglycerides. The effects of this can last for up to a year after quitting the diet. Clogged arteries are a serious threat to the human body. They could lead to erectile dysfunction, heart attacks, or strokes if the buildup becomes severe enough. The damage in any of these cases could be irreversible if not life threatening. Low-density lipids are often referred to as the bad cholesterol because of their risk factor for heart disease. When the risk for clogged arteries and LDL’s increases, this greatly correlates to the possibility of experiencing a stroke or heart attack. (“LDL: The ‘Bad’ Cholesterol”)

According to dietitian Kathy McManus in page 4 of Harvard Health Letter, “We don’t know if it works in the long term, nor whether it is safe.” Not many long-term studies have been conducted, but known risks of a ketogenic diet include nutrition deficiency, liver problems, kidney problems, constipation, and fuzzy thinking/mood swings. The nutrition deficiency comes from a lack of variety. Essential vitamins and minerals are found in fruits, vegetables, and grains that are lacking in the keto diet. Liver problems are simply a risk because there is so much fat to metabolize. Kidneys are what metabolize protein, and much like the liver they can be thrown off from the keto diet. The keto diet is low on foods containing fiber, leading to constipation. All of these factors can lead to extreme health problems such as malfunctioning organs, which could lead to death. Lastly, human brains require sugar from carbohydrates to function. Without this sugar, confusion and irritability may occur.

Humans are often told the importance of vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates, yet are not educated on what makes them an essential part of a healthy diet. Vitamins and minerals perform hundreds of functions in the body. Examples of some of these roles in Making Sense of Vitamins and Minerals: Choosing the Foods and Nutrients You Need to Stay Healthy include healing wounds, repairing bones, and bolstering the immune system. Very few vitamins and minerals are required for the body’s use; yet, diseases such as scurvy, blindness, and rickets can all be caused by diet deficiencies. Vitamins are organic and can be easily broken down before entering the body. This makes them hard to obtain in a normal diet, let alone a ketogenic one.

Carbohydrates are one of the four macromolecules that humans need to live. An article titled “Important Nutrients to know: Proteins, Carbohydrates, and Fats” by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services they discusses the importance of the fiber that is supplied by carbohydrates. The article says, “Eating food with fiber can prevent stomach or intestinal problems, such as constipation. It might also help lower cholesterol and blood sugar.” Without the simple and complex sugars found in carbohydrates, the human body cannot perform all its necessary functions. The brain heavily relies on carbohydrates. As the levels of glucose fall, cognitive functions begin to deteriorate.

Glucose is a reactant of cellular respiration, which is the process by which the body creates energy. Without carbohydrates the body will not be able to obtain sufficient amounts of glucose for necessary energy. Glucose is also distributed to muscles, neurons, and cells in order to maintain blood sugar levels. When organs are unable to synthesize glucose they could malfunction. Glucose is an extremely important part of many body processes, and removing it from a diet could affect more than scientists are aware of.

Individuals have started using the ketogenic diet as a way to improve the metabolism of their body. According to an article by Lindsey Gano, Manisha Patel, and Jong Rho. Data from clinical and preclinical studies indicate that these diets restrict glycolysis and increase fatty acid oxidation, actions which result in ketosis, replenishment of the TCA cycle (i.e., anaplerosis), restoration of neurotransmitter and ion channel function, and enhanced mitochondrial respiration. Further, there is mounting evidence that the KD and its variants can impact key signaling pathways that evolved to sense the energetic state of the cell, and that help maintain cellular homeostasis.

Although this has proven true, every side effect listed above still applies to anyone engaging in this diet plan. The costs heavily outweigh the benefits in terms of health. (Anssi) Although the ketone diet may seem like a smart way to lose weight, it can be very dangerous. Few studies show the effectiveness of this diet plan, and most dietitians would advise against it. It is impossible to take a shortcut when it comes to eating healthy. Cutting out portions of foods in diets is harmful to the body. The best way to lose weight is to watch proportion sizes and to exercise more. Diet plans often are not beneficial in losing weight or to the body. It may take a lot of effort to live healthily, but it will be worth it in the long run.

Works Cited

  1. Chodosh, Sara; Maldarelli, Claire. Popular Science. Winter 2018, Vol. 290 Issue 5, p72-77. 6p. 7 Color Photographs. Reading Level (Lexile): 1210.
  2. Freeman, John M., et al. “The Ketogenic Diet: One Decade Later.” Pediatrics, American Academy of Pediatrics, 1 Mar. 2007, No local token.
  3. Gano, Lindsey B., and Manisha Patel. “Lindsey B. Gano.” Journal of Lipid Research, 1 Nov. 2014,
  4. Gorrell, Michael Gorrell. “E-Books on EBSCOhost: Combining NetLibrary E-Books with the EBSCOhost Platform.” Information Standards Quarterly, vol. 23, no. 2, 2011, p. 31., doi:10.3789/isqv23n2.2011.07.
  5. Manninen, Anssi H. “Metabolic Effects of the Very-Low-Carbohydrate Diets: Misunderstood ‘Villains’ of Human Metabolism .” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 31 Dec. 2004, pp. 1–27.,
  6. Metabolic Effects of the Very-Low-Carbohydrate Diets …
  7. Peters, Michael. BMA A-Z Family Medical Encyclopedia. 2004, p446-447. 2p.
  8. “Vitamins and Minerals.” Healthy Eating Tips to Prevent, Control, and Reverse Diabetes,
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