A ketogenic diet is a high-fat, very-low-carb plan. And, although it may be current watercooler talk, it was actually developed in the 1920s as a way to help some epilepsy patients control seizures, cites the Epilepsy Foundation. The more-recently popular Atkins diet is a type of keto diet, says Medical News Today.

A ketogenic diet is a high-fat, very-low-carb plan. And, although it may be current watercooler talk, it was actually developed in the 1920s as a way to help some epilepsy patients control seizures, cites the Epilepsy Foundation. The more-recently popular Atkins diet is a type of keto diet, says Medical News Today.

The idea is to reach a “ketosis” state, meaning the body’s normal metabolic process burns unwanted fat by forcing the body to rely on fat, instead of carbohydrates, for energy.
Carolyn C. Hintlian, registered dietician nutritionist with Boston Nutrition, explains that keto is a rapid weight-loss diet tried by some athletes to improve performance. She has known, for example, triathletes advised to follow the diet.

The keto food pyramid is laden with meat, nuts and seeds, eggs, high-fat dairy, green vegetables, berries, some non-green vegetables (but no root vegetables) and some healthy oils. To the wayside are the recommended portions of breads, cereals or pastas, and no-no’s are beans and rice. The goal of the diet is to take in 70 percent fat, 25 percent protein and only 5 percent carbohydrates. Plenty of keto recipes are available online, including keto balls — essentially peanut butter balls made with almond flour and a non-sugar sweetener.  

Health benefits, according to Medical News Today, can include weight loss and improved heart health and brain function.

Complications, the site says, can include kidney stones, high levels of acid in the blood and muscle degeneration in the long-term.

It is Hintlian’s opinion that the keto diet is not healthily sustainable over time. She does point out that eliminating or decreasing processed carbs is important, but is concerned that there is little discussion with the keto diet regarding “phyto-nutrients, fiber, and/or the distinction of carbohydrates and omega fats.”

Anyone considering the keto diet should first consult a physician.