Keto diet not a healthy long-term choice – Jackson Hole News&Guide

As spring hovers on the horizon, Jacksonites start to think about spring break. That means getting in shape for beach vacations, diving trips and biking or hiking adventures to the Southwest.

Cleanses and other diets seem to be advertised by local clubs this time of year. Locals are thinking of not just getting in shape but wearing much less clothing.

When I have nutrition conversations around town, the keto diet often seems to come up as the assumed healthiest way to eat. Even high level athletes seem to think they should be eating “keto” for optimal sports performance.

But is it the best way to eat? Let us explore the science.

A true classic ketogenic diet has been used since the 1920s for controlling some types of seizure disorders. And it works. As a dietitian, I have designed eating plans that are over 80% fat to control intractable seizures. Allowing patients to eliminate their medications for even a short period of time can be healthful and allow a person with these types of diagnoses to be much more alert and focused rather than drugged. It gives the body and brain a drug holiday.

More recently, “eating keto” seems to describe an eating plan that limits carbs like fruits, vegetables, grains, beans and sugar. It is generally loaded with fat, along with some protein and nonstarchy vegetables. A few fruits, in small quantities, like berries, are sometimes allowed.

The goal of this type of diet is to force the body into using a different type of fuel. Instead of relying on carbohydrates, the body uses ketone bodies, a fuel the liver produces from fats.

That seems simple enough, since the goal is often to use up extra body fat. However it is tricky to get the body to do that, and most keto dieters are probably not in ketosis, but simply losing weight by cutting down on calories. Cutting out whole food groups will cut down on calories. Unfortunately, it also cuts out many essential nutrients.

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