The Keto Diet?

What are the benefits and drawbacks of the Keto Diet?


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Benefits and Drawbacks of a Keto Diet


Figure 1. A keto diet is a high-fat and low-carbohydrate diet plan. Reprinted from Ketogenic diet: What are the risks? By Natalie Helms, 2019. Retrieved from







Table of Contents

1 Introduction. 3

2 Benefits of the Keto Diet 4

2.1 Keto diet contributes to weight loss. 4

2.2 Keto diet minimizes risk of heart disease. 5

2.3 Keto diet is effective in the management of type 2 diabetes. 6

2.4 Keto diet reduces the risk of some cancers. 6

2.5 Keto diet protects brain function. 7

3 Drawbacks of the Keto Diet 7

3.1 Keto diet increases risk of kidney problems. 7

3.2 Keto diet causes nutrient deficiency and related health complications. 8

  1. Conclusion. 8

5 References. 10

6 Appendix. 12




Benefits and Drawbacks of a Keto Diet

1 Introduction

The ketogenic diet, commonly referred to as the keto diet, is a low-carbohydrate and high-fat diet. The diet plan involves taking drastic measures to minimize the intake of carbohydrates while simultaneously increasing the intake of fat (Masood et al., 2020). The keto also entails maintaining the intake of protein. The diet is referred to as ketogenic because this particular diet triggers the body to produce ketones which are a byproduct of the breakdown of fatty acids for energy through a process called ketosis. Ketones are small fuel molecules that the body utilizes when the supply of blood sugar is low. As such, the keto diet reconfigures the body’s source of energy by causing a shift from carbohydrates to fat. The most common types of the keto diet are the standard keto diet involving moderate intake of protein, and the second type is the high-protein keto diet, which entails higher protein consumption. A person following the keto diet will increase the intake of foods like meat, eggs, dairy products, and nuts while avoiding or limiting consumption of sugary foods, wheat-based products, low-fat products, fruits, and legumes.

An increasing number of people have taken up the keto diet as the diet gains more visibility as a nutritional plan (Abbasi, 2018). The paper will discuss the various benefits that people stand to gain from the keto diet. Furthermore, the paper will also examine the drawbacks of adopting the keto diet.



2 Benefits of the Keto Diet

            People who take up the keto diet stand to gain in different ay from adopting the diet plan. The section analyzes the different benefits of the plan.

2.1 Keto diet contributes to weight loss

One of the most significant benefits of the plan is that it facilitates weight loss. A keto diet restricts the intake of carbohydrates, which reduces the supply of sugar available for conversion into energy. Consequently, the body is forced to shift towards the utilization of fat for the generation of energy (Masood et al., 2020). By moving away from the use of carbohydrates, the body is placed in a position where it has to break down body fat to produce energy. This change from the use of sugar to the use of fats as a source of energy causes the body to burn fat, which leads to weight loss. As such, the keto diet attained significant attention as a weight loss diet regimen.  The keto diet has been successfully adopted as a weight loss strategy by people who have failed to lose weight through other diet plans. Studies have shown that the keto diet is a more effective strategy for weight loss than the low-fat diet, with results showing that people following the keto diet lose twice more weight than people on low-fat diets (Mawer, 2017).

Figure 2. Weight loss comparison between keto diet and low-fat diet. Retrieved from:

The keto diet reduces a person’s appetite and therefore enables weight loss. The diet reduces appetite by increasing the consumption of fatty foods that fill up a person and minimize the production of hunger-stimulating hormones. Over time, the person consumes lower quantities of food which accelerates weight loss.  The weight loss benefits of the keto diet enable people with overweight and obesity to lose weight (Westman et al., 2018). As such, the keto diet allows such people to achieve their ideal weight while minimizing the health risks associated with overweight and obesity.

2.2 Keto diet minimizes risk of heart disease

The keto diet has the benefit of improving the health of the heart. Firstly, the keto diet contributes to heart health by precipitating a decrease in the levels of cholesterol in the body. The keto diet enables the body to minimize the presence of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol is considered bad cholesterol since it results in the accumulation of cholesterol in the arteries and increases the risk of heart disease (Westman et al., 2018). A keto protein also causes the liver to produce fewer triglycerides. Reducing triglycerides leads to an increase in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. The high-density lipoprotein cholesterol is considered good cholesterol since it facilitates the removal of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol from the bloodstream, thereby minimizing the risk of heart disease (O’Neill & Raggi, 2020). The reduction of body cholesterol through the adoption of the keto diet prevents the accumulation of cholesterol in blood vessels which leads to a reduction in blood pressure. The lower blood pressure and reduced cholesterol minimize the risk factors of heart disease and stroke. Therefore, people who adopt the keto diet stand to benefit from improvements in heart health.



2.3 Keto diet is effective in the management of type 2 diabetes

Since the keto diet has been determined to be an effective strategy for managing blood sugar levels, the diet can be utilized to reverse type 2 diabetes (Abbasi, 2018). Type 2 diabetes is a condition where the body fails to produce sufficient quantities of the insulin hormone or rejects the insulin produced by the body. Insulin allows the body to utilize glucose for the production of energy. The low supply or rejection of insulin leads to unusually high blood sugar levels. The keto diet is a high-fat and low-carbohydrate diet that can help in the regulation of blood sugar levels. The keto diet minimizes blood sugar levels by minimizing the intake of carbohydrates hence reducing the presence of glucose in the body. Subsequently, the keto diet allows a person with type 2 diabetes to manage the disease by keeping the blood sugar levels low (Felman & Olsen, 2019). The keto diet also eliminates incidents where there are unusual spikes of blood sugar levels. Therefore, the keto diet minimizes the need for insulin, which allows people with type 2 diabetes to manage the condition and reduce their dependency on medication.

2.4 Keto diet reduces the risk of some cancers

Several studies have determined that keto has the impact of slowing the growth of tumors and aid the treatment of some cancers. Firstly, studies have shown that a keto diet enables the body to restrict the growth of tumorous growths. A low-carbohydrate diet minimizes the blood sugar levels minimizes the amount of glucose available for the growth of cancer cells (Kapelner & Vorsanger, 2015). Since the cancer cells are unable to adapt to a low-glucose situation, their ability to survive is weakened, thereby restricting tumor growth. Keto diets contributes to the treatment of cancer by triggering cancer-fighting mechanisms (Tan-Shalaby, 2017). The low levels of glucose in the body reduce protein growth signals for cancer. The protein growth signals allow the tumors to create a private blood supply which contributes to the growth of the cancer. Therefore, a reduction of glucose in the body reduces the blood and energy supply for the cancer cells which curbs their growth. Through this mechanism, the keto diet can be utilized as an adjuvant to common methods of cancer treatment such as chemotherapy and radiation. Therefore, the keto diet reduces the person’s risk of tumors and contributes to cancer therapy.

2.5 Keto diet protects brain function

A number of studies have shown that a keto diet protects and strengthens the brain. Firstly, the keto diet contributes to enhanced brain function by improving the network stability of the brain cells. Improved network stability enhances mental performance. Secondly, the keto diet has been determined to offer neuroprotective advantages (Yang et al., 2019). The neuroprotective impact of the keto diet protects aging brain cells and reduces the presence of inflammatory mediators in the brain. As such, the neuroprotective impact of the keto diet reduces the effects of neurodegenerative complications such as Alzheimer’s disease (Rusek et al., 2019). Furthermore, the keto diet helps the brain in recovery from injury.

3 Drawbacks of the Keto Diet

While the keto diet has several health benefits, there are various drawbacks and risks associated with the diet plan.

3.1 Keto diet increases risk of kidney problems

The kidneys undertake the role of metabolizing protein in the body. A keto diet with a high protein intake can have the effect of overloading the kidneys leading to kidney problems (Garneata & Mircescu, 2013). Patients with kidney diseases who adopt the keto diet are at a heightened risk of needing dialysis. The increased need for dialysis emerges due to the elevated presence of ketones in the body which the renal system is required to process. Sustaining the keto diet over an extended period increases the person’s risk of health complications related to kidney stones due to the proportionately high consumption of protein (Helms, 2019). Furthermore, the keto diet increases the risk of dehydration due to the diminished presence of glycogen in the body. Therefore, the keto diet significantly increases renal risk.

3.2 Keto diet causes nutrient deficiency and related health complications

The keto diet encourages the increased consumption of foods with fats, moderate or high intake of protein, and the decreased consumption of carbohydrates which increases the risk of nutrient deficiency (O’Neill & Raggi, 2020). The restrictive nature of the keto diet denies the body a range of fibers, vitamins, and minerals that are present in some foods like fruits, whole grains, vegetables, and legumes which a person avoids when following the keto diet plan. The nutrient deficiency from the keto diet can have an adverse health impact. One of the health complications from the nutrient deficiency is referred to as keto flu, whose symptoms include low energy, sleep dysfunction, nausea, increased hunger and digestive discomfort (Masood et al., 2020). The nutrient efficiency and low carbohydrate intake impede the ability of the individual to engage in exercise thus hampering the development of athletic ability. The diet will also impede the ability to undertake strenuous physical activity. Moreover, the lack of fiber in the diet can lead to constipation.

4. Conclusion

The keto diet plan requires a high intake of fats and a low intake of carbohydrates. The keto diet contributes to weight loss since the body shifts to using fats as the primary source energy rather than sugar. The keto diet minimizes the risk of heart disease by reducing the level of cholesterol in the body and increasing the presence of good high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. The diet allows people with type 2 diabetes to manage the disease by decreasing blood sugar levels and minimizing the need for insulin. The also protects brain function. The keto diet impedes the growth of tumors and aids in cancer treatment. However, the drawbacks of the keto diet are increased risk of kidney problems and health complications emerging from nutrient deficiency.



5 References

Abbasi, J. (2018). Interest in the ketogenic diet grows for weight loss and type 2 diabetes. Jama319(3), 215-217.

Felman, A. & Olsen, N. (2019). Does the ketogenic diet work for type 2 diabetes? Medical News Today.

Garneata, L., & Mircescu, G. (2013). Effect of low-protein diet supplemented with keto acids on progression of chronic kidney disease. Journal of Renal Nutrition23(3), 210-213.

Helms, N. (2019). Ketogenioc diet: What are the risks? University of Chicago medicine.

Kapelner, A., & Vorsanger, M. (2015). Starvation of cancer via induced ketogenesis and severe hypoglycemia. Medical hypotheses84(3), 162-168.

Masood, W., Annamaraju, P., & Uppaluri, K. R. (2020). Ketogenic Diet. In StatPearls [Internet]. StatPearls Publishing.

Mawer, R. (2017). A Ketogenic Diet to Lose Weight and Fight Disease. Healthline.

O’Neill, B., & Raggi, P. (2020). The ketogenic diet: Pros and cons. Atherosclerosis292, 119-126.

Rusek, M., Pluta, R., Ułamek-Kozioł, M., & Czuczwar, S. J. (2019). Ketogenic diet in Alzheimer’s disease. International journal of molecular sciences20(16), 3892.

Tan-Shalaby, J. (2017). Ketogenic diets and Cancer: emerging evidence. Federal Practitioner34(Suppl 1), 37S.

Westman, E. C., Tondt, J., Eberstein, J., & Yancy Jr, W. S. (2018). Use of a Low-carbohydrate, Ketogenic Diet to Treat Obesity. Primary Care Reports24(10).

Yang, H., Shan, W., Zhu, F., Wu, J., & Wang, Q. (2019). Ketone bodies in neurological diseases: focus on neuroprotection and underlying mechanisms. Frontiers in neurology10, 585.



6 Appendix

Figure A-1 A keto diet is a high-fat and low-carbohydrate diet plan

Figure A-2 Weight loss comparison between keto diet and low-fat diet

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