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Is the Keto Diet right for you?

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By Acupuncturist Dr. Jeannette “Jett” Kerns, AP, DOM, L.Ac., St. Cloud, FL owner of East Lake Acupuncture

Patients often ask me if the Keto Diet really works and if it’s safe. For the most part, the answer to both questions is ‘yes’. The Keto Diet does work and is considered safe for most people.

There is much controversy, confusion and scary myths about the Keto Diet. As a physician, I am concerned for the safety and well-being of my patients, but without a better understanding of the diet, I was unable to offer much guidance. Like many healthcare providers, I only knew what I read online, saw on TV or learned from others. I mistakenly thought the Keto Diet was a low-carb, high-protein diet like Adkins, which may be harmful for those with kidney disease (I was wrong). After seeing news stories suggesting low carb causes atrial fibrillation I became concerned for the welfare of my patients and decided to learn more.

I began researching the diet and learned the news story was inaccurate and the Keto Diet is not a high-protein diet. I learned the Keto Diet doesn’t cause atrial fibrillation and it doesn’t hurt the kidneys. After taking a detailed Keto course for doctors, I became a fan of the diet and use my better understanding to guide patients through their weight loss efforts.

Keto Diet in a nutshell – The Keto Diet is a high-fat (good fats), low-carb diet that turns the body into a super-charged fat-burning machine. Like the Adkins or Paleo diets, there is a strict, low intake of carbs. How it differs is that there is a higher fat and lower protein intake, which is why it’s considered safe for most suffering from kidney disease. It is easy to follow but requires planning and preparation. Before starting the Keto Diet it’s important to understand how it works in order to safely achieve your weight loss goals.

The body runs on two fuels: carbohydrates and fats. Our bodies turn 100% of the carbs we eat into sugar, which the body burns for energy. Whatever the body doesn’t use, gets converted into fat and stored. The key to getting rid of fat is to cut off the supply of carbs. If there aren’t enough carbs to burn, the body has no choice but to burn fat. Simply put, this fat-burning process is called ketosis. Protein is important for maintaining lean mass and overall health; however, right type and amount of protein is also important.

Potential side effects Most side effects of a Keto Diet are minor and only last a few days. There are side effects to be aware of, including ‘the Keto flu’, which some experience as headaches, fatigue, muscle cramping and heart palpitations. These usually resolve in a few days and can be reduced or eliminated by making sure you get enough water, minerals and salt.

Cautions – This diet lowers blood sugar and blood pressure. It’s important to have your doctor monitor you and adjust your dosage. Please consult your doctor before starting any weight loss program.

Best advice – Consult your doctor and follow a program such as www.dietdoctor.com, it’s the only resource you’ll need. They aren’t going to try and sell you anything, so you won’t be misled into buying expensive, unnecessary, ‘fat-burning’ Keto products.