Research Finds The Keto Diet Is Most Effective When Followed For Short Periods
Any longer could actually do you more harm than good.
At this point, it’s safe to assume that you’ve heard a thing or two about the ketogenic diet. Here’s a quick refresher if not: it’s an eating regime that relies on fat as the key source of energy while cutting back on carbs. The idea is that the body begins to break down this fat for fuel, which leads to a build-up of acids called ‘ketones.’ The result is rapid weight loss, less brain fog, stable blood sugar levels and an improved mood. (Not bad eh?!) But, there’s a catch: Adopting the diet long-term may actually reverse these benefits.
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A new study out of Yale University examined the effect of the ketogenic diet on a type of immune cell (known as gamma delta T-cells) in mice. The researchers found that entering a ketogenic state causes these metabolically protective cells to expand throughout the body, reducing blood sugar and inflammation levels in as little as a week. However, when the mice continued the diet past the 7-day mark, there was a notable depletion of these cells, putting them more at risk of diabetes and obesity.
“After two–three months of ad libitum KD [ketogenic diet] feeding, mice gained significantly more weight compared to chow-fed controls and exhibited elevated fasting blood glucose,” the researchers write in the study. “KD-fed mice remained ketogenic despite exceptional weight gain.”
These findings have fuelled debate between experts over the long term health effects of a low-carb, high-fat diet.
“Before such a diet can be prescribed, a large clinical trial in controlled conditions is necessary to understand the mechanism behind metabolic and immunological benefits or any potential harm to individuals who are overweight and pre-diabetic,” lead author Vishwa Deep Dixit added.
Lucy BodeLucy is Women Health’s digital editor, social media specialist and the go-to girl for all things holistic wellness. Her background as a journalist and passion for food, fitness and integrative medicine has led her to write for some of Australia’s leading publications over the course of her career.