Understanding the latest diet trend: Keto

You’ve probably heard the keto diet mentioned by friends and family, on the news, or maybe you’ve even seen “keto-friendly” labels on food items at the grocery store. But what is keto, and is it right for you? Two HonorHealth dietitians, Denise Coventry, MS, RD, registered dietitian for HonorHealth Integrative Medicine, and Terri Taylor, RD, CSO, registered dietitian and nutrition educator at the HonorHealth Cancer Care, weigh-in on one of the latest diet trends.

How does the Keto diet work?

To start, keto is short for “ketosis” which is a process your body uses to obtain fuel from body fat. Typically, your body prefers to use glucose as fuel. There are times, though, that your body simply doesn’t have enough glucose, and it needs a back-up system to access fuel. That’s when your body begins the ketosis process by shifting more of the fuel source to its own reserve of body fat.

“A keto diet triggers the response in your body to metabolize fat,” explains Denise. “There are different versions of the keto diet, which range in the ratio of fat and protein eaten, but typically are high in fat and low in carbohydrates. The diet is quite adaptable and can range from low carbohydrates to a moderate and sustainable amount; this can make a comfortable transition suitable to variations in preference.”

If you do decide to follow a keto diet, you’ll want to keep in mind that the ketosis process causes you to lose a lot of fluid, and with a low-carb diet, you’ll retain less water. Drink plenty of water and be mindful of your electrolytes so you don’t run into issues with kidney stones or other kidney issues. You’ll also want to ensure you're eating a wide variety of nutrient rich foods to replenish your stores on a daily basis.

Keto isn’t for everyone. For example, the diet is not recommended for those who struggle with eating disorders, have liver issues, have chronic kidney disease or take SGLT2 inhibitors.

Understanding the Keto diet and if it's right for you - HonorHealth

Is the Keto diet right for you?

The current research shows…

Some of the initial research has shown some positive effects for a couple different diseases. Studies show that the keto diet has been able to reduce the number of seizures for patients who suffer from epilepsy and can produce encouraging results for those suffering from glioblastoma. “Recent research also suggests that the keto diet may calm inflammation and increase antioxidant activity,” adds Denise.

That said, there has been limited research to fully understand the keto diet and how it may impact other types of diseases. But there are many studies underway. In fact, our very own HonorHealth Research Institute currently has a clinical trial evaluating the keto diet in patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer.

No matter the diet you choose, there are many benefits to losing weight, maintaining a healthy weight and controlling your blood sugar, as it plays an important role in reducing your risk for certain diseases, such as cancer and type 2 diabetes.

“Lifestyle choices and the habits and decisions we make absolutely influence your cancer risk,” explains Terri. “It’s important to look at the foods you are eating, and make sure that you are including a generous amount of whole plant foods, healthy fats and lean proteins.”

Is Keto right for you?

As with any diet, it’s important to talk to your primary care provider or a registered dietitian to understand your options.   
“It’s important to tailor your diet to your goals, needs and any medical issues you are experiencing for you to achieve the best results,” says Terri. “A nutritionist can help you avoid yo-yo dieting and ensure long-term success by working with you to determine what diet is right for you and make the necessary adjustments over time to maintain your weight loss.”

Ready take the first step to improve your eating habits?

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