Finding keto-friendly foods can be difficult at social gatherings — so consider bringing your own snacks. “If I know the restaurant where I’m meeting my family or friends, I usually look through the menu in advance and see if there’s something I can eat,” says Lele. “Salads are generally safe, with ranch or another low-carb dressing and a non-marinated protein. There are a lot of hidden carbs in restaurant food!”
Although many hypotheses have been put forward to explain how the ketogenic diet works, it remains a mystery. Disproven hypotheses include systemic acidosis (high levels of acid in the blood), electrolyte changes and hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose). Although many biochemical changes are known to occur in the brain of a patient on the ketogenic diet, it is not known which of these has an anticonvulsant effect. The lack of understanding in this area is similar to the situation with many anticonvulsant drugs.
Meanwhile, more than 70 trials have examined the health effects of a low-carb diet. They attest to the benefits64 associated with ketosis and low-carb diets, including a reduction in body weight and body mass index, improved cardiovascular risk factors including blood pressure, and the reversal of Type 2 diabetes. It is virtually impossible to imagine that a diet with so many health improvements in the ‘near term’ (2 years) could ultimately shorten life—and the study authors offer no possible mechanism to explain how this might happen.
The Mediterranean diet wasn’t built as a weight loss plan — in fact, because it wasn’t developed at all, but is a style of eating of a region of people that evolved naturally over centuries, there’s no official way to follow it. But it’s popular because it’s a well-rounded approach to eating that isn’t restrictive. Two of the five Blue Zones — areas where people live longer and have lower rates of disease — are located in Mediterranean cities (Ikaria, Greece and Sardinia, Italy). (2) These places are known for having some of the lowest rates of heart disease and cancer worldwide. (3)
A systematic review in 2018 looked at sixteen studies on the ketogenic diet in adults. It concluded that the treatment was becoming more popular for that group of patients, that the efficacy in adults was similar to children, the side effects relatively mild. However, many patients gave up with the diet, for various reasons, and the quality of evidence inferior to studies on children. Health issues include high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), high total cholesterol, and weight loss.
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?