Everywhere you look lately you see keto-diet this and keto-diet that!
But is the keto diet bone healthy?
First, let’s look at the keto diet.
A ketogenic or keto diet is high in fat (75%) and protein (25%) and low in carbohydrates (5%).
By severely limiting the glucose the body needs for energy, it causes a metabolic state called ketosis. This forces the body to burn fat as fuel, which produces acid build-up. The body eliminates most of these acids through the urine. But if more acid builds up than the body can process, ketosis can quickly turn into a life-threatening condition known as ketoacidosis.
Keto diets try to balance the amount of protein, fats, and carbs to keep the body in ketosis without crossing that line.
The diet is strict. It eliminates all sugars, grains, and most fruits and vegetables. People following a keto-diet plan eat healthy fats such as eggs, fish, olive oil, avocados, and nuts—along with butter, beef, and poultry. The rules of the diet limit vegetables to leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli or cauliflower.
Some people follow a keto diet for fat loss, weight loss, or an increase in muscle mass. After their bodies adjust to ketosis, they plateau. The weight loss benefits stop, but other negative side-effects may continue.
Things you should know before you jump into a keto-diet lifestyle.
- Many people on the keto diet experience flu-like symptoms for up to two weeks as their bodies adjust to the ketosis state.
- The ketogenic diet can mess with your electrolyte levels. Electrolytes are the minerals that maintain the function of the body’s electrical system. If there are not enough, it can cause kidney damage and irregular heartbeat. You may become dehydrated on the keto diet which increases this risk.
- The keto diet may also decrease bone density. An article published in the Frontiers of Endocrinology reported the real-time effects of the keto diet on 30 world-class-race walkers. Researchers took initial blood tests to measure bone mineral density from all the individuals at the beginning of the trial. For three and a half weeks, athletes ate a ketogenic diet. After the study period, researchers took a second blood test to compare the amounts of bone minerals in the blood with the first test. The conclusions were sobering.
The study showed that the low-carb, high-fat diet had decreased the body’s ability to build new bone and increased bone breakdown. What may be even worse is that after people could again eat carbohydrates, only some of these functions returned to normal. This small study will open the doors for studies on the long-term effects of the keto diet on bone health.
If you want to try a keto-diet, talk to your primary care provider and a nutritionist to make sure you are receiving the right amounts of vitamins and minerals your body needs to function and produce new bone.