Popularity surrounding keto diet fad increases

Ella Nelson, Copy Editor

Recently, the low-carbohydrate, high-fat and high-protein diet called the ketogenic diet has become increasingly popular among students. The reason behind this attention comes from high profile stars and influencers expressing it as what keeps them in shape, their secret to a healthier body. However, many question the true health benefits the keto diet has to offer.

Health teacher Erin Nickleby explains losing and maintaining weight is all about habits. To her, diets are an up and down roller coaster of gaining and losing weight.

Like many diets, the keto diet limits the carbohydrate intake, however instead of slowly reintroducing carbohydrates into the diet, keto instructs strict  restrictions instead. Without carbohydrates such as whole grains and starchy vegetables as a source of energy to burn, the body becomes reliant on burning fat in replace.

“When you consume carbohydrates of any kind, your body turns it into sugar, and when you consume that glucose, that’s energy. Your body needs that as energy… because you’re eliminating that carbohydrate that is readily available for the body to use, you’re going to feed into your fat reserves to get energy,” Nickleby said.

In result of depleting carbohydrates from a diet, it forces the body to burn fat in replace of the glucose, producing a new source of fuel called ketones. Although this has been proven to lead to weight loss, the keto diet lacks nutritional balance.

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, “the most common and relatively minor short-term side effects of the ketogenic diet include a collection of symptoms like nausea, vomiting, headache, fatigue, dizziness, insomnia, difficulty in exercise tolerance and constipation, sometimes referred to as the keto flu,” authors Wajeed Masood and Kalyan R. Uppaluri wrote in the NCBI article Ketogenic Diet (March 21, 2019).

“I think there are times where someone may have food restrictions due to allergies or diseases where they have to avoid certain foods or types of foods, but I would say overall I think eliminating a food group from your diet may be effective, but I don’t think it’s the healthiest method,” Nickleby said.

Through this newfound attention regarding the keto diet, experts are questioning the benefits of this diet and the overall safety. Doctors especially worry about the high-fat foods as they promote saturated fats, proven to increase risk of heart disease. However, students who took part in or continue to participate in the keto diet disagree and believe the keto diet is healthy and helpful.

Junior Maleah McKinley started the keto diet because she “wanted a healthier diet and to feel better.” Overall, McKinley expressed the diet was successful for her because she had “a lot of energy from the protein” and she “got more sleep.”

The keto diet has been promoted in sold-out books, by celebrities across the nation and through social media. Through these advertising techniques, keto becomes increasingly popular to students. The substantial weight loss, and healthier living both answer the question as to why students are suddenly attracted to this diet.

Nickelby explained self esteem and the way students view themselves compared to others around them is the main contributor as to why students choose to partake in diets such as keto.

“I would recommend this diet to someone who is athletic and involved in sports, but if you’re not, I don’t think it’s the best fit,” McKinley added.