Keto diet explained: What is a keto diet? Is it dangerous?

Research by Supplement Place found keto is the diet the world is paying the most attention to at the moment. The keto diet came above the likes of Weight Watchers, Intermittent fasting, Slimming World and veganism. But does keto really help you lose weight, and is it dangerous? spoke to Clarissa Lenherr, a nutritionist for personalised healthcare service, bioniq to find out.

What is the keto diet?

The keto diet is a high-fat, adequate-protein and low-carbohydrate diet.

The diet was devised in the 1920s to treat epilepsy in children and was (and still is) successful.

About half of the children and young people with epilepsy who have tried this diet saw the number of seizures drop by at least half, and the effect continues after resuming to a regular diet.

On the keto diet, you normally have to exclude grains, dairy, legumes, soy, most fruits and starchy vegetables.

You eat very few carbohydrate, most of which come from non-starchy vegetables, nuts and seeds.

READ MORE- Weight loss: Why keto diets aren’t safe or healthy long-term

Does keto help you lose weight?

While the keto diet does help you lose weight at first, it is probably too good to be true.

Clarissa explained: “The majority of people who manage to successfully enter a state of ketosis can lose weight fairly quickly, however it might be short term as the initial weight loss tends to come from water weight rather than fat loss.

“This is because the keto diet is very low in carbohydrates, and for every one gram of carbohydrates we hold in the body, we also hold roughly four grams of water. So once the carbohydrates are reduced, we lose water.”

Once this weight is lost, keeping the weight off is really down to sticking to a calorie deficit, Clarissa said.

The ketogenic diet will make you feel less hungry, but it may still be tricky to stay within a calorie deficit

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Does the keto diet have side effects? Is it dangerous?

Yes, the keto diet does have many unpleasant side effects, including diarrhoea, constipation, headaches, and cramping.

Clarissa said: “One of the dangers of any diet high in animal protein is the risk of stress on the kidneys and kidney stones.

“Our kidneys metabolise protein, and so with any diet very high in protein, it could put stress on the kidneys.”

Since the diet is focussed on high levels of fat and protein with barely any carbs, the diet is unlikely to give you enough fibre. You need 30g of fibre a day.

You may also be left with nutritional deficiencies from this diet.

Clarissa said: “As the diet restricts carbohydrates, this means that many fruits, vegetables, wholegrains and legumes are off the table.

“These foods are rich sources of nutrients that keto followers may be missing out on. Some of these nutrients include magnesium (found in many plant foods such as fruits, veg, grains) vitamin c (found in fruits, peppers, kale, broccoli) and B vitamins.

“Calcium deficiency may also occur. Due to the high intake of animal foods, our bodies increase acid production which the kidneys have to filter out.

“To counteract this, calcium is utilised from the bone, leading to lost calcium through our urine.”

You may also lose excess sodium and potassium when following this diet.

Clarissa explained: “As you lose substantial water from the body, you also lose electrolytes with it – sodium and potassium.

“This can lead to some symptoms commonly associated with the keto diet such as headaches, cramping and diarrhoea.”

If you do decide to take up the keto diet, Clarissa recommends using bioniq LIFE (available to buy from

It is a personalised health programme that can help you identify which extra nutrients you might need.

Clarissa said: “Bioniq LIFE provides you with your own bespoke supplement based on blood, genetic and microbiome test results, to ensure that you are taking the exact combination

that your body needs to optimise your health.”

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