Low-carbohydrate diets have fallen in and out of favor since before the days of Atkins. But now an even stricter version of low-carb eating called the ketogenic diet is gaining popular attention, igniting a fierce scientific debate about its potential risks and benefits. Both the Atkins and ketogenic diets encourage followers to cut carbs from their diets. But while the Atkins diet gradually increases carbs over time, keto places firm limits on carbs and protein. This way of eating depletes the body of glucose, forcing it to primarily burn fat and produce an alternate source of fuel called ketones. A typical ketogenic diet restricts carbs to less than 10 percent of calories and limits protein to 20 percent, while fat makes up the rest. The keto diet has been popularized in best-selling books, promoted by celebrities and touted on social media as an antidote to various ailments. Proponents say it causes substantial weight loss and can help those with Type 2 diabetes dramatically improve their blood sugar levels, which fall when people avoid carbs. There have been many studies of the ketogenic diet over the years, but most have been small and of fairly short duration. Ethan Weiss, a researcher and preventive cardiologist at the University of California, San Francisco, had long been skeptical of low-carb diets but decided to experiment with the ketogenic diet a couple years ago. In a typical day he skips breakfast and eats mostly salads, nuts, cheese, roasted vegetables and grilled chicken, fish or tofu, as well as dark chocolate for dessert.
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The low-carb, high-fat plan promises quick weight loss, but health experts worry about these side effects and complications. The ketogenic diet—also known as the “keto diet” or just “keto”—has become the latest big thing in weight-loss plans, touted recently by celebs like Jenna Jameson, Mama June, and Halle Berry. The diet involves cutting way back on carbohydrates, to 50 grams a day or less, to help the body achieve a state of ketosis, in which it has to burn fat rather than sugar for energy. Animal studies have also suggested that the diet may have anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, and cancer-fighting benefits, as well. But as a general weight-loss plan, keto is more controversial. Here are a few things you should know about the ketogenic diet before you try it as a way to lose weight. Yes, you might drop pounds, but you should also watch out for the following side effects or complications. You may be able to minimize the effects of keto flu by drinking plenty of water and getting plenty of sleep.