November 01, 2018

Do you recommend a ketogenic diet to lose weight?

Q: Do you recommend a ketogenic diet as a way to lose weight?

A: For most people, no — particularly if they're trying it without medical supervision.

A ketogenic diet greatly restricts carbohydrate intake to fewer than 50 grams a day. It keeps protein intake modest, but allows you to eat as much fat — preferably from healthier fat sources such as olive oil, nuts or avocados — as needed to satisfy hunger. Getting most of your energy from fat forces your body into ketosis, an energy pathway in which the liver releases partially burned fat that your body uses in place of carbohydrates for energy.

Various diets can be effective for losing weight, depending on your individual circumstances. Some people are able to stick to a ketogenic diet long enough to lose weight and improve blood sugar. Many others find it hard to consistently restrict carbohydrates. It can't be determined ahead of time who will benefit, and it's not clear whether someone who benefits from a ketogenic diet might have been just as successful on a less restrictive eating plan, such as the Mediterranean diet. There may be risks associated with a ketogenic diet, including blood sugar fluctuations for those taking diabetes medications and micronutrient deficits.

If you want to try a ketogenic diet, seek doctor supervision to develop a true ketogenic eating plan that can be implemented in a safe way.