The Risk and Benefits of the Ketogenic Diet: What You Should Know Before Starting

The ketogenic diet, frequently referred as the keto diet, has grown in popularity recently because of its potential to aid in weight loss and improved metabolic health. The keto diet may have risks and downsides, though, just like any other diet. In this post, we discuss the possible disadvantages of the ketogenic diet and discuss what people should know before starting this diet.

What is the ketogenic diet?

The ketogenic diet is a dietary strategy which helps cutting back on carbs and raise fat consumption to cause a metabolic state called ketosis, in which the body burns fat as its main energy source rather than glucose. This dietary approach essentially has a composition of 70–80% fat, 5–10% carbs, and 10–20% protein.

Keto diet
Keto diet chart with percentage of fats carbs and protein

Types of keto diet

There are different keto diets, each with a different macronutrient ratio and purpose. The following are a few of the keto diets that are most regularly used:

  1. Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD): The standard ketogenic diet is the most commonly implemented keto diet. This diet consists of taking 70-80 percent of calories from fat, 5-10 percent of calories from carbs, and 10-20 percent of calories from protein. This diet is usually recommended for people who want to reduce weight and improve their metabolic health.
  2. Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD): This dietary strategy cycles between periods of low and high carbohydrate intake. For example, a ketogenic diet might be followed for five days, with two days of greater carbohydrate consumption allowed. Athletes and bodybuilders frequently use this strategy to increase their performance.
  3. Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD): This diet aims at minimizing carbohydrate consumption while delivering energy by eating a little quantity of carbs before or after physical exercise. It is frequently utilized by athletes or individuals who engage in physical activity on a daily basis.
  4. High-Protein Ketogenic Diet: A increased protein ketogenic diet than standard ketogenic diet may be advantageous for people trying to reduce weight while maintaining muscle mass.
  5. Modified Atkins Diet: The modified Atkins diet is less demanding than the ketogenic diet, comprising more protein, fat, and less carbs. This sort of diet may be simpler to follow for certain people, and studies has shown that it is effective in reducing seizures in persons with epilepsy.

Comparison of types of keto diet

The following table compares the most prevalent varieties of keto diets, including their macronutrient ratios, objectives, and potential benefits:

Type of Keto DietMacronutrient RatioGoalsPotential Benefits
Standard Ketogenic Diet70-80% fat, 5-10% carbs, 10-20% proteinWeight loss, improved metabolic healthThe body may experience higher insulin sensitivity, a greater sense of satiety, and a possibly decreased chance of acquiring chronic health disorders such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Cyclical Ketogenic DietVaries, alternating periods of high and low-carbImproved athletic performanceGreater stamina, bigger muscles, and possibly better metabolic health.
Targeted Ketogenic DietVaries, small amount of carbs before or after exerciseImproved athletic performanceIndividuals may gain greater energy for physical activities and possibly enhance their body composition.
High-Protein Ketogenic Diet60-75% fat, 15-30% protein, 5-10% carbsWeight loss, maintenance of muscle massA higher sense of satiety, as well as a potential reduction in the risk of acquiring ailments such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Modified Atkins Diet65-70% fat, 20-30% protein, 5-10% carbsTreatment of epilepsy, weight lossPeople with epilepsy may experience a decrease in the number and intensity of seizures, as well as potential improvement in metabolic health.

It is critical to understand that the macronutrient ratio will vary based on the individual’s needs and goals. Consulting with a health care specialist can help you choose the optimal diet for your specific needs. Furthermore, it is critical to ensure that the diet is balanced and contains a variety of nutrient-rich foods to avoid nutritional deficiencies.

Potential complications of the keto diet

  1. Nutrient deficiencies: The keto diet, which removes or limits dietary categories such as fruits, whole grains, and legumes, may result in vitamin shortages. Low-carbohydrate diets, for example, may be deficient in fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
  2. Increased risk of heart disease: A low-carb, high-fat diet has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, according to research, although further research is needed. When contemplating this diet, choose healthy fats such as those found in olive oil, almonds, and avocados while reducing saturated and trans fats.
  3. Kidney problems: With its greater protein intake, the ketogenic diet might place additional strain on the kidneys. In certain cases, this might result in kidney stones or impaired kidney function, especially in people who already have renal problems.
  4. Keto flu: Some people may have flu-like symptoms after starting a keto diet, including headache, lethargy, and nausea. This is commonly referred to as “keto flu,” and it is thought to be the result of the body adjusting to the new metabolic state.
  5. Constipation: A low-carbohydrate diet may cause constipation, especially if adequate dietary fiber is not ingested. Fiber-rich meals, such as non-starchy vegetables, nuts, and seeds, can help keep bowel motions regular.
  6. Disordered eating: People who follow a ketogenic diet may acquire bad eating patterns, such as obsessing about food, avoiding activities that involves eating, or feeling guilty if they consume something that is not on the plan.

Ketogenic diet vs keto-like diet

The main difference between a ketogenic diet and a “keto-like” diet is the amount of carbohydrate restriction. The ketogenic diet is primarily defined by ingesting low amounts of carbohydrates (normally less than 50 grams per day) in order to achieve ketosis, a condition in which the body depends on fat for energy rather than glucose. To sustain the needed macronutrient levels, a very high fat consumption and a moderate protein intake are required. A “keto-like” diet, on the other hand, is far less restricted and aims to achieve a lower degree of ketosis while still allowing for some carbs.

A “keto-like” diet, which allows for a little higher carbohydrate consumption than the keto diet, is an alternative to a pure ketogenic diet. This diet may not be focused on attaining ketosis, but rather on limiting carbohydrate intake to aid weight reduction, better blood sugar management, or improved health. It generally entails eating a lot of fat and only a little bit of protein.

When it comes to the possible advantages and hazards affiliated with the two diets, there are significant distinctions between them. A ketogenic diet has been demonstrated in studies to improve insulin sensitivity, weight reduction, inflammation, and perhaps certain illnesses. At the same time, this diet may provide certain dangers, including as dietary deficits, gastrointestinal difficulties, and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease in some people.

Risks of keto-like diet

A study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found a probable link between low-carb, high-fat eating patterns (such as the keto-like diet) and an increased risk of heart disease.

A study of 4,000 adults in the United States found that those who followed a low-carb, high-fat diet had a higher risk of getting heart disease than those who followed a high-carb, low-fat diet. Elevated LDL cholesterol levels in people following a low-carb, high-fat diet were also identified as a risk.

Before adopting any substantial dietary changes, it is critical to consider the potential dangers and benefits of any dietary plan, including ketogenic diets, and to see a medical specialist.


The keto diet is a well-known diet plan that emphasizes cutting carbs and boosting fat consumption. Although studies have revealed potential benefits such as weight loss and increased health, downsides include nutritional shortages, raised LDL cholesterol levels, and limited long-term weight loss.

The concept of a keto-like diet can vary greatly, and there has been little study on the possible heart health risks of this sort of diet. A few studies have suggested that a low-carbohydrate diet may raise the risk of cardiovascular issues, resulting in higher LDL cholesterol levels.

Before adopting any substantial dietary changes, consider the advantages and drawbacks of any dietary plan, such as the ketogenic diet, and seek consultation from a specialist. More study is required to better understand the relationship between ketogenic diets and cardiovascular risk.

Leave a Comment