The keto diet is really popular right now. The high-fat, low-carb eating plan helps you lose weight by burning fat instead of glucose (sugar). Many people successfully drop weight with the keto diet.

However, many trending diets also have downsides. Suppose you’re an older adult looking into weight loss options. In that case, it’s always best to discuss your overall health and personal risk factors of any potential diet and nutritional changes with your doctor. Also, before you “go keto,” here are some things to consider.

How Does the Keto Diet Work?

The ketogenic (keto) diet is a high-fat, moderate-protein, very low-carb diet. Doctors use it to treat children with epilepsy and other medical conditions, such as morbid obesity, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

A typical keto eating plan allows 70-80% fats, 20% proteins, and 5-10% carbs each day. In a normal diet, your body draws energy from the starches and sugars (aka carbs) you consume. A keto diet restricts your daily carb intake to 50 grams or less. Once your body reaches a state of ketosis, it burns stored fat for energy instead.

This means you’re going to cut out lots of starches, including pasta, rice, cereal, bread, corn, and potatoes. You’re also going to refrain from eating beans, fruit, and legumes—and of course, baked goods and sweets.

If you’re trying to lose weight, finding a safe and effective way to achieve your goal is fantastic. However, with any diet, you must weigh the potential benefits against potential risks before you decide to start the keto diet plan.

Keto Diet Benefits

Low-carb diets have many benefits. First, cutting carbs helps you shed unwanted pounds. If you take in extremely low amounts of carbs, you start burning carbs stored in your liver. Once those are gone, your body starts to burn stored fat for fuel—and your body is in a state of ketosis.

Next, some research suggests that ketone bodies help prevent oxidative stress on the brain. Oxidative stress produces free radicals that damage brain cells and spur on the aging process. In a Gladstone Institutes study, ketone bodies generated during a low-carb, high fat and protein diet can potentially delay the effects of aging.

Another small study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease suggests that generating ketones on a high-fat, low-carb diet may improve memory in people with early signs of Alzheimer’s, though more research is needed.

Mayo Clinic also reports that “low-carb diets that emphasize healthy sources of carbs, fat, and protein may help lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.”

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