Do I think someone can lose weight on the ketogenic diet? Yes. You’re eliminating carbohydrates which retain water in the body, therefore you will lose weight rather quickly in the beginning. But this is water weight, not fat! Also, with the elimination of carbohydrates there is an automatic increase in protein consumption which increases metabolism and helps with weight loss. That's a plus.
Do I think the weight loss from a ketogenic diet is sustainable long term? No. We see time and time again that people with rapid weight loss from low carb diets gain it all back in the long run. I also worry about long-term low carb diets and muscle breakdown. When our glycogen stores are depleted our body can use muscle protein as an energy source. No bueno.
Would I personally recommend the ketogenic diet for weight loss? No. I have heard stories from people who follow the keto diet and claim that they have lost a lot of weight and "feel awesome!" But they also say that the first two weeks are miserable while your body is making the adjustment from running on carbs as its main fuel source to fatty acids ( the dreaded "keto flu"). Brain fog, fatigue, headaches, nausea... no thanks. Not to mention the potential for vitamin and mineral deficiencies when you eliminate fruits and whole grains. And your breath stinks from the ketones. Gross.
Bottom Line: I always encourage people to rely on a general healthy diet and exercise for weight loss. Fad diets don't work long-term and are not necessary for weight loss. You can absolutely lose weight eating fruit, oatmeal, and sweet potatoes. Balance and moderation are key. However, sometimes we need some extra help and support achieving this. Hence, nutrition counseling :)
By Laura Dilz, Registered Dietitian