Can you reverse Type 2 diabetes by changing your diet?
The highest rating given to the keto diet was in the category of short-term weight loss, for which it received a 3.8 out of five. Experts on the panel noted “the low-carb plan is generally a quick, effective weight-loss strategy.”
That's exactly why nutrition experts like Dr. David Jenkins worry about the keto diet: it may promote quick weight loss, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's a healthy way to live.
Jenkins, a professor of nutritional science in the faculty of medicine at the University of Toronto, fears the diet cuts out too many healthy foods in addition to unhealthy ones.
“You've got carbs on the positive side of health and on the negative side of health,” he said. “If you just cut out the lot, you're cutting out the good, the bad and the ugly.”
“The greatest risk I see to a keto diet is cutting out or severely reducing the foods that we know from decades of research have extensive health benefits, such as whole grains, legumes, fruits and certain vegetables,” she said.
“Some of the healthiest populations that we know consume these foods on a regular basis, and there's no shortage of research showing their benefits on potential risk reduction of cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer, Type 2 diabetes and even weight management.”
The only time a doctor would recommend the keto diet
Thus far, the only proven clinical use for the keto diet is in children with epilepsy.
“This diet may be quite useful if the drugs aren't working well, but these are controlled conditions,” Jenkins said.
Devje supports this claim.
“There's substantial evidence showing that a ketogenic diet reduces seizures in children,” she said.
“There is some thinking that perhaps such benefits may extend to other brain disorders (like Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, multiple sclerosis) … but I was not able to find any human studies to support recommending the keto diet to manage these conditions,” she said.
It's important to note that in children with epilepsy, there can be adverse side effects.
“Their fibre may be down (because fibre is commonly found in carbohydrates), which can lead to constipation,” said Jenkins.
The case for ditching diets altogether
However, registered dietitian Stephanie Hnatiuk doesn't consider the keto diet more or less “dangerous” than other restrictive ways of eating.
It can be extremely challenging to stick to the keto diet for longer than a few months, which can lead people to what Hnatiuk calls “yo-yo dieting.”
“A person loses some weight on a diet, is unable to keep up with it and ultimately quits the diet, leading them to regain the weight they lost and often more,” she told Global News.
Instead, Hnatiuk encourages her clients to abandon diets altogether.
“We need to start thinking about our overall dietary patterns in a more long-term, sustainable way,” she said. “Avoid the short-term diets, challenges or things that promise a quick fix. Instead, simply make small changes to improve our eating habits.”
This can include reducing added sugars, cooking more meals at home and adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet.
“Over time, these [will benefit our health more than] an endless stream of short-term fad diets,” said Hnatiuk.