A ketogenic diet (“keto diet”) is a type of low-carbohydrate (“low-carb”) diet that is focused on consumption of protein and fat.
So-called “keto pills” are those that claim to boost ketosis, which is a process in which the body burns fat instead of carbohydrates for energy. Burning fat produces ketones, chemicals made by the liver.
Keto pills contain sources of ketones, including keto salt, which are usually a mixture of electrolytes such as magnesium and potassium, minerals such as calcium, and keto compounds such as beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), a ketone produced by the liver when the body is in ketosis.
Currently there’s no evidence that keto pills or supplements alone can cause weight loss, or that adding keto pills to a keto diet can help you lose extra weight.
Some small studies have found keto pills may increase the levels of ketones in the body when they are used, however, the increased ketones did not lead to weight loss when compared to people who followed a keto diet and did not take keto supplements.
Some animal research suggests the compounds in keto pills may help burn body fat, but more study is needed.
What Can You Eat on The Keto Diet?
Instead of taking keto pills for weight loss, a keto diet may be followed to help put the body into ketosis.
A keto diet has a high fat requirement and followers eat fat at each meal. For example, in a daily 2,000-calorie diet, dieters would consume 165 grams of fat, 75 grams of protein, and just 40 grams of carbs.
Protein is consumed on the keto diet and it can be lean protein or protein high in saturated fat such as beef, pork or bacon.
Both saturated and unsaturated fats are permitted on the keto diet such as:
- Oils (olive, palm, coconut)
- Cocoa butter
Some fruits and vegetables are may be consumed on a keto diet but those high in carbohydrates are discouraged.
Fruits and vegetables allowed on a keto diet include:
- Berries in small portions
- Some fruits in moderation
- Bell peppers
- Brussels sprouts
- Leafy greens
- Swiss chard
- Summer squashes
What Are Risks of Keto Pills or a Ketogenic Diet?
Research on keto pills has thus far not shown any serious health risks or side effects. But it is important to note that ketone salts are usually made up of ketones bound to sodium, so people who have high blood pressure (hypertension) who need to moderate salt intake should talk to their doctor before taking keto supplements.
Even if there are no reported risks of taking keto pills, keep in mind that dietary supplements, including keto pills, are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and may not do what they claim, may not contain quantities of ingredients listed on the label, or may not contain the ingredients in listed on the label at all. Some may contain additional ingredients not listed. Many don’t work as advertised, and some may even be dangerous. Talk to your doctor before taking any supplements.
As for keto diets, it is not known whether ketogenic diets are effective for weight loss. There are only short-term studies and it is unknown if keto diets work long-term or what risks might be.
A keto diet is a high-fat diet, and there are risks that come with eating a high-fat diet, such as:
- A keto diet is low in fiber-rich foods
- Increased cholesterol levels and increased risk of heart disease
- Due to the high saturated fat consumed in a keto diet
- Nutrient deficiency
- Due to restrictions on many foods, including healthy fruits and vegetables
- Liver problems
- Can worsen due to the high fat content of the diet
- Kidney problems
- May develop because of the high protein requirements
- Confusion and irritability
- Due to a lack of healthy carbohydrates
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