Basically, the proven science is in the pudding. A highly cited low-carb study from The New England Journal of Medicine concludes with the statement, “The low-carbohydrate diet produced a greater weight loss (absolute difference, approximately 4 percent) than did the conventional diet for the first six months, but the differences were not significant at one year.” The study mentions health benefits from the low carb diet, of course, but that it’s largely unsustainable.
Other causes of diarrhea on the keto diet include consuming a diet low in fiber (fiber helps ward off diarrhea by bulking up stool) and eating processed low-carb foods like shakes and bars that may contain sugar alcohols. These sugar alcohols can ferment in the gut and cause gastrointestinal discomfort. Yawitz suggests limiting foods labeled “sugar free” if you’re prone to gas or diarrhea when you eat them. And you may want to gradually adjust your carbs downward and your fats upward. “Also build your diet around [naturally] high-fiber, low-carb foods like avocado and nonstarchy vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and asparagus,” she says. Other keto-friendly ways to get more fiber include chia seeds, almonds, and coconut.
Fairly recently, the diet was introduced as a weight-loss diet by an Italian professor of surgery, Dr. Gianfranco Cappello of Sapienza University in Rome. In his 2012 study, about 19,000 dieters received a high-fat liquid diet via a feeding tube inserted down the nose. The study showed an average weight loss of more than 20 pounds in participants, most of whom kept it off for at least a year. The researchers reported a few minor side effects, like fatigue.
The thing is, for keto to work, it can’t just be treated like any other diet, which is really confusing considering all the pundits touting the “keto diet.” Eating a balanced diet in daylight hours and night capping with a “keto bar” from Whole Foods is not going to put you in a state of ketosis, nor is eating keto religiously and bingeing the family sized bag of Doritos twice a week. Putting the word “diet” beside “keto” is a bit misleading because it downplays the outrageous restrictions required to put your body in an unnatural fat-burning state. In order to accomplish the “ketosis” most diet plans talk about, you need to radically change your lifestyle -- and, unlike switching to a balanced diet of whole foods, you must be fairly religious about carb restriction in order to reap the benefits.
“When you start the keto diet, you lose sodium and other electrolytes in the urine due to reductions in insulin,” says Yawitz. “This is a major contributor to symptoms of keto flu.” So it’s important to replenish sodium through the diet, especially if you exercise or sweat a lot. “This can help ward off more serious side effects that are seen with long-term sodium deficiencies,” says Yawitz. These include lethargy and confusion — and in extreme cases, seizures, coma, and death, according to the Mayo Clinic.
And what I’m writing has nothing to do with taking supplements to induce ketosis or whatever. I believe these things are covered in Volek & Phoney’s book The Art and Science of Low Carb Living, which I would have thought you to be very familiar with. The iodine stuff you can read about in Iodine, Why We Need, Why We Can’t Live Without It by Brownstein.
I knew keto was on the The Today Show when relatives began dropping the term in the same charming way your grandmother might refer to “the Instagram.” They knew it was low carb and that it worked, because that’s what the show told them. But they couldn’t explain the state of “ketosis” or why their Yummy Yummy Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Breakfast Replacement Keto Bar was a better choice for weight loss than, like, cutting back on alcohol.