A survey in 2005 of 88 paediatric neurologists in the US found that 36% regularly prescribed the diet after three or more drugs had failed; 24% occasionally prescribed the diet as a last resort; 24% had only prescribed the diet in a few rare cases; and 16% had never prescribed the diet. There are several possible explanations for this gap between evidence and clinical practice. One major factor may be the lack of adequately trained dietitians, who are needed to administer a ketogenic diet programme.
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 ketogenic diet may offer hope to people with type 2 diabetes who have difficulty controlling their symptoms. Not only do many people feel better with fewer diabetic symptoms, but they may also be less dependent on medications. Still, not everyone has success on this diet. Some may find the restrictions too difficult to follow over the long term. Yo-yo dieting can be dangerous for diabetes, so you should only start the ketogenic diet if you’re sure you can commit to it. A plant-based diet may be more beneficial for you both short- and long-term, so input from your dietitian and doctor can help guide your diet choice.
The risks are more long term, such as risk of nutritional deficiency (vitamin c, a, k and b vitamins) and also increased risk of bowel and possibly breast cancer cancer due to limited fibre intake. Ketosis generally isn’t recommended and it’s not exactly a state that would the body would usually be in, but it can be done safely for set periods of time.’
Finally, people eat about nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day on a Mediterranean diet. (1) Produce packs an array of disease-fighting antioxidants, and people who fill their diet with these foods have lower risk of disease. Yet as the National Institutes of Health points out, it’s not known if it’s the antioxidants or other compounds (or general healthy eating patterns) that are responsible for these advantages. (5)
Be choosy about carbs. You can decide which ones you eat, and how much. Look for those that are low on the glycemic index (for instance, asparagus is lower on the glycemic index than a potato) or lower in carbs per serving than others. Whole grains are better choices than processed items, because processing removes key nutrients such as fiber, iron, and B vitamins. They may be added back, such as in “enriched” bread.
Reduced hunger. Many people experience a marked reduction in hunger on a keto diet. This may be caused by an increased ability of the body to be fueled by its fat stores. Many people feel great when they eat just once or twice a day, and may automatically end up doing a form of intermittent fasting. This saves time and money, while also speeding up weight loss.