The ketogenic diet has caught headlines in magazines and news articles, promising fast weight loss due to the significant reduction of carbohydrate intake. The ketogenic diet focuses on reducing the amount of carbohydrates consumed, while increasing the amount of healthy fats in one’s diet. Rather than addressing the short-term effects of the keto diet, Dr. Dashti and his team of researchers tackled the long-term impacts of staying on the keto diet to better assess the effectiveness and safety of the regimen.
For the study, 83 obese patients (39 men and 44 women) with a body mass index (BMI) of greater than 35 kg/m2 were selected to participate. As a way of monitoring the patients’ progress over the 24 week study period, the team looked at their high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels, and blood sugar levels.
HDL, also known as good cholesterol, is helpful in the body, since it allows cholesterol to be transported to the liver so it can get rid of excess cholesterol that the body does not need. LDL, or bad cholesterol, however, delivers cholesterol to the arteries, which may lead to artery blockage if an excess amount is consumed. Each participant had to follow a ketogenic diet which consisted of consuming “30 g carbohydrate, 1 g/kg body weight protein, 20% saturated fat, and 80% polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat” (Dashti et. al).
The results revealed that the weight and BMI of the patients decreased throughout the study period, and notably the HDL cholesterol levels increased while the LDL cholesterol levels decreased. Triglyceride levels and blood sugar levels also decreased, which is a great sign as high levels of these will lead to a greater risk of heart disease and diabetes, respectively. Therefore, the researchers have concluded that the ketogenic diet is safe to use for a longer period of time compared to what was previously assumed.