It feels like everybody is talking about the low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet. It's the eating kind of choice for celebs like Vanessa Hudgens and celebrity coaches like Kirsty Godso, and has been touted as the go-to food program for treating diabetes, anxiety, and to drop weight. Is it supposed to be a lifelong strategy or a short-term repair?
Case in point is the two I requested for this report. 'Everyday Ketogenic Kitchen' writer Carolyn Ketchum has been eating low-carb for seven years (and all-out keto for nearly four). She offers recipes and ideas from her favorite website, 'All Day I Dream About Food'--she says sticking to it long term is vital for managing her diabetes. But registered dietician and Read It Before You Eat It writer Bonnie Taub-Dix, RD, CDN, not only cautions against doing keto long term, she does not think that it's all that good to do for a brief while, either.
Here, both assert their cases, which makes you be the judge.
"This is just another fad diet," Taub-Dix claims of keto. While she does say it may be an effective method to eliminate weight relatively quickly, it is not something she advises, let alone urges, for a lifelong eating plan. "Carbs aren't bad for you," she says of this food group demonized by devout keto followers. "They have gotten a bad rap over the years, but it is more about choosing the correct carbs."
Taub-Dix says whole grains, as an instance, are an excellent source of vitamin B and fiber, a nutritional supplement that is more important than you may realize. She points out that there is a difference between cutting out croissants and muffins and cutting out all carbohydrates. Another reason why she is pro-carbs: They make you happy. "I know people who've started doing keto and have become very moody because they are missing out on that."
While the ketogenic diet is becoming popular for those who have diabetes, Taub-Dix warns against it, saying it may result in some serious health issues. "This occurs when your body is generating a lot of ketones and can result in vomiting, diarrhea, feeling bloated, and being [too] thirsty." "Why take a chance of that happening?" Taub-Dix asks.
Okay, so she is not into keto. What does she advocate rather? "It's dull and common sense, but eating a vast array of foods and using portion control is what works in the long run," she says.
Although Ketchum has written a book on keto, keeps on top of this scientific study about it, and has been living the keto life for decades, she stresses that she's not a medical practitioner. "I read a good deal of studies, but I am not the individual doing the study," she says. Still, she's quite compelling reasons for why the ketogenic diet works long-term.
"I understand that if I did not stick to the ketogenic diet, I'd probably have developed Type 2 diabetes and be on insulin."
However, even if you don't have diabetes, Ketchum says it functions in the long-term. "Carbs can make you feel fuzzy since they spike your blood sugar, then it drops and you feel tired, making it more difficult to focus."
And though the term "diet" includes a temporary connotation, she says it is absolutely sustainable--so long as you enjoy the food. "Food is fun, celebration, and fun. So as long as there are a few keto-friendly foods around when you are interacting, you won't fall off the wagon."
Although Ketchum is an all-purpose keto urge and, for her, there is no turning back, she does offer one caveat: "Since the diet is recently popular, there has not been any significant long-term studies done," she says. "I'd love for someone to perform one, after people on keto for 20 years!" However, as for herself, she has not seen any downsides to the diet, only advantages.
Like any eating plan, it comes down to how what you are eating makes you feel. When locating the best diet for you--and if that includes a plate full of eggs, avocado, and a facet of bone broth (or not)--you're your best advocate.