The Keto Diet & Its Health Benefits & Its Shortcomings

What is ketosis? 

It is a metabolic process where the body produces ketone bodies possibly because a person is consuming a low carbohydrate diet (keto diet). The ketone bodies are made from fat and are used for energy since carbohydrates are not available. 

Today a keto diet is being used for weight loss and to help maintain blood sugar levels. The diet is made up of foods with a moderate amount of protein, high in fat and low carbohydrates to put the body into a state of ketosis. A true ketogenic diet consists of around 55% to 60% fat, 30% to 35% protein and 5% to 10% carbohydrates (Masood W et al, 2020). It is not a diet for everyone and one should check with their health care practitioner if they have a health condition or take medication before starting any new dietary regimen. 

What happens in the body during ketosis? 

The ketone bodies take the place of glucose for the body’s source of energy. During ketosis there is a reduced secretion of insulin because blood glucose is low. This mechanism causes less fat and glucose to go into storage. The fatty acids are metabolized to an unstable compound called acetoacetate and then converted to the ketone bodies, beta-hydroxybutyrate and acetone. 

A person knows they are in ketosis when they test for ketones by using a blood-testing meter and ketone levels are 0.5 mmol/L or higher. 

Varieties of the keto diet: 

Some individuals stick to a strict keto diet and others follow a cyclical ketogenic diet. A cyclical ketogenic diet is one that individuals consume higher-carbohydrates in between periods of the ketogenic diet. Some may go 5 days ketogenic and then 2 days of high carbohydrate. 

Can you do a juice fast and go into ketosis? 

Carbohydrate intake needs to be low and the majority of juices are high in carbohydrates. Intermittent fasting can cause the body to go into ketosis when the body’s glucose stores are gone. Short term this will cause ketosis, but as soon as carbohydrates are reintroduced, ketosis will stop.

The Ketogenic Diet Benefits 

Research shows that a ketogenic diet may help promote weight loss (Ting R et al, 2018; Shilpa J, Mohan V, 2018) reduce triglycerides, provide support to blood sugar and have neurological benefits (Shilpa J, Mohan V, 2018). Research has shown it may improve brain function (Taylor MK et al, 2018 ). 

Some individuals believe that weight loss occurs because caloric intake is lower and the diet may cause increased satiety (Shilpa J, Mohan V, 2018). 

Ketogenic Diet Shortcomings 

There are benefits of the keto diet, although a downside is that it may cause a nutritional deficiency because of a lack of fruits and vegetables. Deficiencies can occur in particular nutrients (Calton JB, 2010). 

The following nutrients may be deficient: the vitamins A, D and E; the B vitamins, folic acid and biotin; the minerals magnesium, selenium, chromium, iodine, and molybdenum. 


The ketogenic diet has become popular and has demonstrated a number of benefits, although nutrient deficiencies may occur. Some individuals follow a straight high fat, moderate protein and low carbohydrate diet while others alternate with a cyclic program including days with high carbohydrate foods. 

This article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. 

Individuals with health concerns or on medication should check with their health care practitioner before trying any new type of eating plan. 

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