“The alkaline diet often has a focus on eating lots of fresh produce and unprocessed foods, which could be a good thing,” says Hultin. “However, keep in mind that this is not an evidence-based therapeutic diet. When people take it too far — for instance, drinking baking soda — or become too restrictive or obsessive over food choices, it can definitely turn negative.”
Research is continuing. This was just a pilot study,1 Dr. Saslow says, so we could test the effects in a small group in order to see if working with patients online offered an effective way to have people follow a weight loss program. In her next study, she plans to break down the components of a program to determine which elements are responsible for the weight loss and the decrease in blood glucose and HbA1c.
It also may help stave off chronic diseases, like heart disease and type 2 diabetes, as well as act protectively against certain cancers. (34) The diet is also a boon to mental health, as it’s associated with reduced odds of depression. (34) There’s even some data to suggest it can be supportive in relieving symptoms of arthritis, according to a paper published in April 2018 in the journal Frontiers in Psychology. (35)
There are three instances where there’s research to back up a ketogenic diet, including to help control type 2 diabetes, as part of epilepsy treatment, or for weight loss, says Mattinson. “In terms of diabetes, there is some promising research showing that the ketogenic diet may improve glycemic control. It may cause a reduction in A1C — a key test for diabetes that measures a person’s average blood sugar control over two to three months — something that may help you reduce medication use,” she says.
One downside to a ketogenic diet for weight loss is the difficulty maintaining it. “Studies show that weight loss results from being on a low-carb diet for more than 12 months tend to be the same as being on a normal, healthy diet,” says Mattinson. While you may be eating more satiating fats (like peanut butter, regular butter, or avocado), you’re also way more limited in what’s allowed on the diet, which can make everyday situations, like eating dinner with family or going out with friends, far more difficult. Because people often find it tough to sustain, it’s easy to rely on it as a short-term diet rather than a long-term lifestyle.
The struggle as a prescriber is that you have to follow the “standard of care,” lest you open yourself up to a lawsuit. So I talk to my patents about what “the” recommendations are, and then I talk to them bout what the evidence says and what my experience says. Plain and simple, patient’s trust the government’s recommendations and can’t wrap their head around the idea of not eating carbs because they have learned their entire lives that the body “needs” carbs to survive.
Pros: Compared to eating a traditional diet, switching to a low-carb diet can significantly reduce body fat, studies show. Cap your carb intake at 20% of daily calories and the weight-loss results are even stronger—plus, you can reduce your risk for heart disease and stroke. Some research suggests low-carb diets are even better than low-fat diets: One study in Annals of Internal Medicine found that people who limited their carbs lost eight more pounds than those who cut back on fat. If you cut back on carbs enough, your body learns to burn fat as fuel instead. Studies are mixed on how low-carb diets affect performance, but some evidence suggests that endurance performance can actually improve among people whose bodies adapt to fat-burning fairly easily.
The benefits above are the most common ones. But there are others that are potentially even more surprising and – at least for some people – life changing. Did you know that a keto diet can help treat high blood pressure, may result in less acne, may help control migraine, might help with certain mental health issues and could have a few other potential benefits?