TAKE A DOSE OF LAURA
By Laura Jones, PharmD
Should I Go Keto?
Going keto is a hot commodity on
the trending market of how to lose
weight and how to lose weight fast.
Originally, the ketogenic or “keto”
diet was used to help control seizures
in children with epilepsy3. Now it is
widely recognized as a method to lose
weight and potentially lower cardiovascular
events linked to obesity1.
The keto diet consists of a formula
that highlights a specific ratio of
caloric intake. The ratio is made up of
a certain percentage of carbohydrates,
protein, and fats per day. It consists
of eating 5-10% of carbohydrates,
10- 20% protein, and 70-80% fats1 a
day. It’s been said that a person could
initially lose 10 lbs. from the keto diet
in about 2 weeks3. The focus of the
diet is to eat low carbs and foods high
in fat, in order to put your body into
a state of ketosis and allowing you to
lose weight quickly. This approach to
quick weight loss is loved by many but
questioned by others.
So, what is ketosis and how does
it help you to lose weight? Ketosis
happens when your body starts burning
fat as energy. Usually, your body
breaks carbs down into sugar and uses
it as a means of energy. But, when
there is not enough sugar in the body
to use as energy, it alternatively relies
on fat2. It’s the body’s way of surviving
during periods of fasting. Kind of
So, when fat is used as an alternative
energy source, it is broken down
into chemicals called ketones. And this
is where the diet gets its name—the
keto diet. Ketones are excreted in the
urine when our body goes into ketosis3.
A quick way to know if you are in
ketosis is to buy an at-home kit to test
your urine for ketones. Once you are
in ketosis, your body can experience
rapid weight loss due to all the fat
being burned as energy3. Also, while
in ketosis, your body will initially lose
a lot of water which contributes to the
loss of weight3.
Now although ketosis itself isn’t
dangerous, the keto diet can restrict
many foods that are essential to a
healthy performing body and can make
you severely dehydrated. Be mindful to
still incorporate foods rich in calcium,
magnesium, potassium and other vitamins
when selecting food items in
your diet1. Also, while on this diet, it
is extremely important to drink lots of
water and to keep hydrated. In fact,
when your body first goes into ketosis,
you might experience symptoms of the
“keto flu.” The keto flu includes feelings
of fatigue, weakness, headaches,
and nausea. This happens as your body
adjusts to the drastic change in your
diet, specifically at the beginning when
losing all the water weight2.
Many people mistake being in
ketosis as the same as being in
ketoacidosis. It is important to note
that ketosis and ketoacidosis are two
different processes. Ketosis is the way
our bodies adapt naturally to a low carb
intake1. The small number of ketones
produced are considered generally
safe in this diet as long as you are
kept hydrated and are consuming the
proper nutrients3. However, ketoacidosis
is a life-threatening process seen
in diabetics as a result of low insulin
levels and dangerously high amounts
of sugar and ketones in the body3.
So, is the keto diet worth it? This
diet is targeted to help lose weight
fast and over a short-term period.
The typical length of the diet is 2
weeks to 6 months3. The keto diet
has been proven not only to show a
greater weight loss than others, but
it also helps to decrease cravings and
hunger3. However, this strict diet can
also create health problems in the long
run if you become nutrient deficient
and severely dehydrated3.
There are limited studies of how the
keto diet affects the body long term,
typically when going past a 1-year
mark1. Before starting this diet, it is
important to communicate with your
doctor to see if this diet is the right
choice for you. This diet can be beneficial
to some, but for others it may not
be a fit. All in all, consider the benefits
and the risk before you take a dose
of keto in your life. Always remember,
use your diet to make a healthier you
and don’t ever let your diet wither you.
1. Diet Review: Ketogenic Diet
for Weight Loss. (2019, May
22). Retrieved from https://www.
2. Land Williams, C. (2019).
Basics. The Keto Diet, 10–12.
3. Masood W, Uppaluri KR.
Ketogenic Diet. Updated 2019
Mar 21. In: StatPearls Internet.
Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls
Publishing; 2019 Jan-. Available
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