The keto diet is inarguably the most debated diet of 2017; while some dietitians are warning against it, there are countless success stories of massive weight breakthroughs through the use of keto. But regardless of what camp you fall into, we need to debunk something here and now: the keto diet isn't a trend, and it's not a Pinterest diet . . . and it shouldn't be treated as such.
"The ketogenic diet works when no other diet will," clinical nutritionist Dr. Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNC, told POPSUGAR. And that's because you're (in most cases) drastically changing the macronutrient distribution of your diet and drastically changing the type of fuel your body is receiving (ketones from fat vs. glucose from carbs). This isn't a matter of cutting calories or eating less dessert. "The ketogenic diet is a medical diet breakthrough to overcome any plateaus, whether it be balance blood sugar, stop neurological symptoms, or just lose the last 10 pounds of stubborn belly fat," said Dr. Axe. And that's just it — it's a medical diet.
Thanks to a major surge in interest on Instagram and Pinterest (hello, keto dessert recipes), the diet has taken off. It was the #6 diet search term on all of Google in 2017, and the #keto hashtag on Instagram has over 4 million photos. Search "keto" on Pinterest and you'll be served with hundreds of thousands of recipe ideas, tips, and infographics, with more added by the hour. In that sense, it is trendy, but that in and of itself completely overlooks how serious of a change this diet will be to your health, even if it is a positive change. Trends are frivolous; changes to your body's primary fuel source are more serious.
Trends are frivolous; changes to your body's primary fuel source are more serious.
This diet is specific, purposeful, and meant to treat a problem or symptom, and it should be taken seriously! Do your research. Before you start your diet, consider what your goals are and discuss them with a medical professional — and not just for planning and preparation. When doctors put patients on the keto diet, they're also monitoring blood levels and cholesterol to ensure that the diet is working and not causing any adverse side effects. Just an FYI: you can't get your cholesterol checked online. So make sure, if you're following a trend that impacts your health, do so with medical supervision (this extends beyond the keto diet and applies to any major dietary changes).
Dr. Axe has told POPSUGAR that the goal of the keto diet is not to be a long-term lifestyle change, but rather a breakthrough diet for certain medical conditions and obesity. "When I put my patients on it, it has been for a maximum of three months. I know some people who have been on [the keto diet] and have done it for a year and done well with it. But I don't think people should be on a ketogenic diet fully for more than a year — absolutely not for more than a year."
This diet may be an excellent tool for your symptom treatment or weight-loss breakthrough. That said, there are a few groups of people who should not be on the keto diet, including anyone with liver or gallbladder disease and pregnant women.
Changing how you fuel yourself is serious business, so please treat your diet seriously. While there are beauty trends, travel trends, and restaurant trends, the trends in health tend to have more ramifications — and your safety is most important!