The keto diet is growing in popularity this year, but experts think this fad should bite the dust. According to US News & World Report, keto ranked last on a list of 39 evaluated diets, tied only with the wildly unpopular Dukan diet.
Ranked second to last was the resolutioner’s favorite, the Whole30. Ranked last in 2017, the Whole30 is a 30-day “reset” that claims, according to its website, to “end unhealthy cravings and habits, restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract and balance your immune system.” However, the magazine’s panel of health experts condemned these claims, calling it bluntly “the worst of the worst for healthy eating.”
“No independent research. Nonsensical claims. Extreme. Restrictive,” they declared of the popular program.
The experts thought even less of the keto diet, and here’s what they assert makes it so bad. Keto dieters attempt to warp their food intake to induce ketosis, a physical state in which the body is flooded with ketones after being deprived of carbohydrates. These ketones are produced after breaking down sources of fat — both ingested fats from food and the body’s natural fat storage. Advocates of the keto diet claim it turns the body into a “fat burning machine” and is the key to lasting weight loss. There have been no definitive long-term studies to confirm this, however.
Experts on US News & World Report’s panel assert that the diet is difficult to follow and could have a questionable impact on long-term health. They were especially concerned with the extremely high fat content of the diet, with 70 percent of caloric intake coming from fats. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s dietary guidelines suggest that just 30 percent of calories should come from fats, while a far more generous 45 to 65 percent should come from carbohydrates.
The keto diet has also not been cleared for those experiencing kidney or liver conditions, as it could potentially affect or worsen their symptoms. The experts asserted that the ends did not justify the means — especially when the ends themselves are in question. There is no clear evidence that the keto diet provides any long-term health benefit, especially in terms of preventing heart disease and diabetes.
While there were diets that ranked at the top of the experts’ list, none of them received a full five-star rating. This was due to the “weight loss” category of evaluation. The top-ranked diets for things like healthy eating promotion and disease prevention ranked lower for weight loss. The whole concept of evaluating a diet for its ability to deliver long-term weight loss is flawed — it doesn’t account for the research that suggests long-term weight loss is highly unlikely, regardless of your diet of choice. For this reason, a weight-neutral approach to health is gaining popularity in medical communities.
Even the No. 1 diet on the experts’ list, the government-endorsed DASH diet, failed to deliver on the questionable weight loss goal. “More than a few experts noted that they’d like to see long-term weight loss studies examining DASH,” the report relayed. Those on the panel noted that it failed to provide lasting weight loss in a single long-term study.
If you’re looking to improve your overall health with food, a diet is probably not be the answer. Instead, you might want to consider one of these small diet changes that could make a big difference.