Are Keto and Atkins diets good for you?

Keto and Atkins vs Cancer

What are the Keto and Atkins Diets?

The Keto and Atkins diets have gained a lot of popularity for helping people to lose weight and have been recommended for cancer treatment as well. Both diets are low-carbohydrate diets that cause a state of ketosis in the body that primarily burns fat for energy instead of carbohydrates.

The Keto diet is composed of a high fat intake, very low-carb intake, and moderate protein consumption. On the other hand, the Atkins diet includes several phases with different levels of carb restriction.

While these diets may bring short-term weight loss results, are they actually healthy and safe for you?

Lack of Essential Nutrients and Fibre

A balanced diet is vital for our health. Unfortunately, the Keto and Atkins diets often lack many essential nutrients and fibre. These diets restrict the consumption of fruits, whole grains, and vegetables, which are crucial sources of nutrients like thiamin, folate, vitamin C, magnesium, iron, fiber, and calcium.

All these nutrients are essential for energy production, brain function, cell formation, protein synthesis, bone development, etc.

Another problem with these diets is the low consumption of carbohydrates, which causes ketosis. Carbohydrates are essential for the entire body, especially the brain. Therefore, with these diets, your body is forced to use other sources, like stored fat or protein from muscle, for energy. By doing this, your body breaks down muscle protein for energy, which makes it common to experience muscle loss over time.

While ketosis can trigger weight loss, unfortunately, it can also lead to ketoacidosis, a state similar to diabetes. This can cause dehydration, severe damage to the liver and kidneys, loss of consciousness, and even death.

Cancer Feeds on Animal Protein Amino Acids

While ketosis can trigger weight loss, unfortunately, it can also lead to ketoacidosis, a state similar to diabetes. This can cause dehydration, severe damage to the liver and kidneys, loss of consciousness, and even death.  Major issue with these Keto animal protein diets is that cancer feeds on “Methionine”. This is an amino acid found in many foods, but especially found in abundance in animal food products. Dr. Johanna Budwig encouraged a vegetarian type of diet with very little animal protein. In addition to avoiding the Keto-like diets, to further help block Methionine, a person with cancer could take 2 capsules of Glycine daily.

Increased Risk of Heart Attacks and Stroke

One of the major concerns with the Keto and Atkins diets is the excessive intake of saturated fats, primarily from animal sources. High levels of saturated fats can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attacks and stroke.

A recent study tested over 300 people on a keto-like diet and compared them to over 1,200 people on a regular diet. After a follow-up period of 12 years, they noticed that around 10% of the participants on a keto-like diet experienced a cardiovascular event, including heart attacks or strokes. However, only around 4% of the people on a regular diet experienced any cardiovascular events.

Those on the keto-like diets had a much higher fat intake of saturated fats and double the amount of animal fat sources compared to the ones on a regular diet.

Saturated fats can raise LDL cholesterol levels, leading to the buildup of plaque in the arteries. Over time, this can result in restricted blood flow, leading to a heart attack. Cholesterol isn’t bad, but it can be dangerous if you don’t control your HDL to LDL ratio.

It is vital to prioritize heart-healthy fats found in sources like avocados, nuts, and seeds rather than relying solely on animal-based fats.

Negative Effects on Liver and Kidney Function

A 36-year-old woman experienced three days of constant nausea and vomiting, along with fatigue and malaise. She started a new weight loss journey and was on a ketogenic diet for two months. Her diet primarily consisted of eggs, beef, chicken, avocados, and peanuts. She did not have any past history of hypertension, diabetes, or kidney disease in the past. And after eight months off this diet and back to a balanced, healthy diet, her baseline renal function test was completely normal.

She experienced nausea and vomiting because of the high protein intake with the Keto and Atkins diets. These high-protein diets are dangerous because they can strain the liver and kidneys. Your liver and kidneys play a crucial role in processing and removing waste products from the body. A diet excessively high in protein can increase the workload on the liver and kidneys. This may lead to issues like acid load, gut microbiome dysbiosis, and inflammation.

Additionally, these diets increase the risk of developing kidney stones and experiencing liver damage because of the large quantities of animal protein.

Digestive Problems

One of the most common side effects of the Keto and Atkins diets are digestive problems like constipation and diarrhoea.

A study conducted over a period of 10 years examined the effects of ketogenic-like diets on 48 children with epilepsy. 65% of the children experienced constipation very frequently. They experienced this because keto-like diets limit the consumption of fiber-rich foods, which help with digestive function. Fiber also feeds the beneficial bacteria in your gut, boosting your immune system, improving mental health, and decreasing inflammation.

As discussed before, the Keto and Atkins diets are composed of an incredibly high fat content, and fat takes longer to break down in your body than carbs or protein. And since your body is not used to eating so much fat, your digestive system starts to struggle. This can lead to steatorrhea, which contains high amounts of fat and looks like diarrhea.

It’s also very common to experience negative symptoms like nausea and fatigue, as your gut isn’t used to this rapid change of diet.

Here are some recommendations to lose weight alternatively, that will ensure you maintain a healthy lifestyle:

  • Avoid or limit processed foods, sugary snacks or drinks, and excessive alcohol consumption.
  • Control portion sizes to prevent overeating.
  • Avoid all deep-fried foods.
  • Engage in daily physical activity such as walking, jogging, or cycling.
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day, as it will help you feel full.
  • Avoid eating large meals late at night.

The Budwig Center, has many success stories with clients who have followed the Budwig food plan. For more information, contact us.

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