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Nutritionists warn of dangers of keto diet

By Batool Ghaith - Jan 23,2021 - Last updated at Jan 23,2021

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AMMAN — Experts are raising red flags about the increasing adoption of ketogenic diet among Jordanians.

The ketogenic diet was discovered in the 1920s to help epileptic children reduce their seizures along with medications. The keto diet is a low carb, high fat diet that helps produce ketones in the body. Ketones are formed when the body uses fat for its source of energy, according to medical experts.

“I have consulted many neurologists regarding the ketogenic diet for epilepsy, they mostly stated that they do not actually depend on it at all to stop or reduce seizures, as it does not work effectively with everyone most of the time, and if it did, it would be accompanied with medications so it is a short-term solution,” Suzan Akijian, a clinical nutritionist in Amman, told The Jordan Times.

Studies on effectiveness of the ketogenic diet for weight loss are preliminary, and experts are still not certain of its long-term effects.

“Recent studies proved that the effect of the ketogenic diet is similar to fasting, because fasting for long hours produces ketones in the body, those ketones help people lose weight, which enabled the classification of Keto as a weight-loss diet making a trend out of it,” Ola Asaad, a nutritionist in Amman, told The Jordan Times.

Asaad stressed that there are different kinds of diets for each person and each body type, noting: “There is no diet that fits everyone.”

“Studies have shown a person consistently following any diet would certainly lose weight, but the idea is not only to lose weight but also to maintain that loss. 

“Most dietitians worldwide do not believe in the ketogenic diet as a way of life, or as a healthy way for weight loss, because any diet that cancels any food group is unhealthy, as the human body needs all the nutrition groups in certain amounts in order maintain a healthy body,” Akijian said.

Meanwhile, nutritionist Dima Kilani said she does not recommend the keto diet because it encourages “yo-yo dieting” which is a pattern of losing weight, regaining it and then dieting again.

“The keto diet might help to lose weight initially but it is likely to be regained eventually,” Kilani said, noting that it has a lot of restrictions on various kinds of healthy food for the body.

“People following the ketogenic diet could develop something called a ‘keto flu’ as the drastic reduction in carbs and sugar can come as a shock to the body and may cause withdrawal-like symptoms, similar to those experienced when weaning off an addictive substance,” Asaad noted.

Akijian also highlighted many side effects of the keto diet, such as high cholesterol levels and a fatty liver. In addition, the keto diet increases uric acid levels in the body, along with kidney problems, due to the large load on them as a result of the large amounts of protein consumed.

People are desperate to lose weight, which is why raising awareness of healthy ways of weight loss is very important for both the public and professionals, according to experts.

“Once a person stops the keto diet, the weight lost can be regained drastically even more weight can be gained than was the case before dieting. As a dietitian, I never depend on the ketogenic diet,” Akijian noted.


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