The keto diet continues to be the trendiest diet du jour with countless A-list celebs (hello, Kimmy K, Gwyneth Paltrow and Halle Berry) who swear the diet helps keep them lean, toned and energised. But on the other hand, increasingly health experts are warning the high-fat low-carb diet poses serious health issues might be a big fat waste of your time or worse, put your long-term health at risk.
So, who should you believe?
Well, let’s get one thing straight: there is no single diet that will suit everyone simply because everyone is different but if you fall into one of these six categories, the keto diet is probably not the best option for you.
1. Type 1 or 2 Diabetic
To enter a state of ketosis, you need to deprive your body of carbohydrates. During this process, the liver becomes the sole provider of glucose to feed your glucose-hungry organs. If you have Type 1 diabetes, you are insulin-dependent, which means your blood sugar levels decrease to dangerous levels when in a state of ketosis.
“Ketosis can actually be helpful for people who have hyperglycemia issues, but you have to be very mindful of your blood sugar and check your glucose levels several times a day,” nutritionist and dietitian at Houston Methodist Medical Center, Kristen Kizer, tells Health.
Ketosis can actually trigger a dangerous condition known as ketoacidosis, whereby the body stores up too many ketones and the blood becomes too acidic, which leads to liver, kidney and brain damage.
It is recommended that those who are diabetic will need doctor’s permission and close supervision if following the keto diet.
There are instances where being fuelled on fat might not deliver the required energy for certain types of exercise. It’s a controversial topic, but those who perform high-intensity activities like CrossFit or martial arts may find their performance hindered on a keto diet.
“Explosive movements eat up the muscles’ glycolytic capacity, which is powered by glucose from dietary carbohydrates,” Medical Daily explains.
In a recent study in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, researchers found that participants performed worse on high-intensity cycling and running tasks after four days on a ketogenic diet, compared to those who’d spent four days on a high-carb diet. The study’s lead author concluded that the body is in a more acidic state when it’s in ketosis, which may limit its ability to perform at peak levels.
On the other hand, endurance athletes might thrive on a keto diet because their energy levels can be adequately fuelled by fatty acid oxidation and ketones.
Keto expert Scott Gooding, notes that if you’re an athlete and enjoy following the keto diet, you don’t have to give it up entirely. Instead, you can adopt a cyclic keto diet.
“If you’re feeling your output is sub-optimal, then try adding some carbs into your post-training feed. You may only need 200–250 grams, but see if that makes a difference. Look to get this from safe starches or gluten-free grains. This is known as cyclic keto – low carb on non-training days then upping the carb intake on training days to help replenish cells.”
3. People with no gallbladder
The keto diet isn’t entirely out of reach if you’ve had your gallbladder removed. The key here is being mindful of where the fats you consume are derived from.
“The gallbladder produces bile necessary to breakdown fats. So with this in mind it might sound like a high fat diet would be off limits. However, it might just mean that you’re mindful of where those fats are derived from,” Gooding explains. “The back-up plan is that the liver can produce bile – therefore it’s best to favour shorter fatty acids such as the ones found in coconut oil or MCT.”
Medical Daily recommends any individual who falls into this category (or has an existing gallbladder disease) should consult with a doctors before trying the keto diet.
4. Pregnant or breastfeeding women
“A growing fetus requires a steady glucose supply to support normal growth, including crucial brain development,” Medical Daily states. “Reduced glucose availability caused by a maternal keto diet may have long-term adverse effects on infant health. These include abnormal growth patterns and alterations in brain structure.”
Women who are breastfeeding can actually tolerate more carbs and protein, so avoid the keto diet and just eat real food to nourish you and your baby.
Following any fad diet means you’re cutting out important food groups. In the case of the keto diet, *a lot* of food needs to be eliminated in order to remain in a state of ketosis. Therefore, it only makes sense that a ‘classic keto’ diet can hinder healthy growth in children.
A doctor or dietitian should be consulted before a ketogenic diet is started in children.
6. People with Multiple Sclerosis
“The National Multiple Sclerosis Society raises questions about the long-term safety of the keto diet for MS patients. It also cautions about possible keto diet side effects, like fatigue and constipation,” Medical Daily notes.