• Researchers conducted "the most comprehensive analysis yet" of keto diets
  • They found risks of adverse health effects in certain people
  • Keto diets tend to "skew" people's diets toward cancer-causing foods

Are you among the many people who follow ketogenic diets? A comprehensive study on such diets has found that for most people, their long-term risks may actually outweigh their possible benefits.

Ketogenic diets, also called keto, have become quite popular in recent years, especially because of their many purported benefits for weight loss and health. Basically, they are low-carb, high-fat diets that involve "drastically" reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat. The idea is to push the body into ketosis or the state wherein the body uses the fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates.

Typically, keto diets are used to help manage seizures in children with epilepsy, but they have also been promoted for weight loss and other health reasons.

In a recent study, published in Frontiers in Nutrition, a team of researchers conducted "the most comprehensive analysis yet" of keto diets, and found they may actually put certain people at risk of adverse health effects, the Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine (PCRM) said in a news release.

"The typical keto diet is a disease-promoting disaster," study lead author and program manager at the organization, Lee Crosby, RD, said in the news release. "Loading up on red meat, processed meat, and saturated fat and restricting carbohydrate-rich vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains is a recipe for bad health."

For the study, the researchers looked at the effect of ketogenic diets on common chronic diseases as well as their "impact on diet quality and possible risks associated with their use."

Based on their findings, such diets have particular risks for pregnant women and people with kidney disease. Researchers found that pregnant women who are on keto diets are more likely to have a child with a neural tube defect "even when supplementing folic acid," while the high-protein characteristic of these diets can "hasten" kidney failure among people suffering from kidney disease.

They also found that keto diets can increase bad cholesterol levels for many patients. Moreover, they noted that such diets tend to "skew" people's diets toward cancer-causing foods.

"In fact, typical keto foods have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer's — often the very diseases they are touted to help," PCRM noted.

Interestingly, the researchers found that keto diets can reduce seizure frequency in some people with drug-resistant epilepsy and help reduce body weight, although "not more effectively than other dietary approaches over the long term or when matched for energy intake." And while keto can help lower blood glucose, such diets' efficacy tends to "wane within the first few months."

"Given often-temporary improvements, unfavorable effects on dietary intake, and inadequate data demonstrating long-term safety, for most individuals, the risks of ketogenic diets may outweigh the benefits," the researchers wrote.

The keto diet is a very popular diet that promotes a low-carb, high-fat diet. Pixabay