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Health Spotlight: To keto or not to keto?

Homemade Keto Chicken Meal Prep with Veggies in a Container. (WISH Photo, file)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The keto diet, a plan that is high in fat and low in carbs, has become a popular weight-loss method in the last few decades.

The International Food Information Council reports that about 12.9 million Americans follow the keto diet each year – but what are the pros and cons of this dietary approach?

The ketogenic, or “keto,” diet involves consuming 60% of daily calories from fat, 30% from protein, and 10% from carbs. The idea is the body doesn’t have carbs to burn, so it burns fat instead, essentially mimicking a fasting state.

Research suggests the keto diet’s benefits may include weight loss, improve acne, reduce blood sugar levels in those with diabetes, and also making cancer cells more reactive to cancer treatment. Another study found that the diet also helps people with multiple sclerosis.

“At the six-month point on the diet, patients were less depressed, and there were significantly lower levels of fatigue,” Dr. J. Nicholas Brenton with the University of Virginia Health System said.

Despite the benefits, they are many downsides. A recent study found keto diets were linked to twice as many cardiovascular events, including heart attacks, strokes, and artery blockages.

Those on the diet also had significantly higher levels of LDL, or bad cholesterol. Other evidence has shown that long-term keto diets also lower healthy gut bacteria in children, but researchers say more studies are needed to confirm these links.

Another potential negative of the diet is it’s restrictive. One study found 37% of keto dieters quit because the diet was too strict to follow.

This story was created from a script aired on WISH-TV. Health Spotlight is presented by Community Health Network.