More mainstream coverage for keto diets

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Last week, health reporter Anahad O’Connor covered ketogenic diets in Tuesday’s edition of The New York Times. He is neither a staunch supporter nor an overly critical skeptic. He presents information about keto in a neutral, objective tone. He highlights personal success stories, discusses some of the evidence in favor of the keto diet, and points out recent publications warning about potential harm.

The New York Times: The keto diet is popular, but is it good for you?

Despite its noncommittal tone, O’Connor’s article makes a few noteworthy points.

O’Connor closes his article with a strong quote from Obesity Society president, Dr. Steven Heymsfield, who said:

You have to set down a lifestyle and a healthy eating plan that you think you can adhere to for the rest of your life, because things only work while you’re doing them.

This is a crucial point that deserves reinforcing. We can debate about the science of metabolic rates, insulin levels and calories all we want. But the bottom line remains that the science doesn’t matter if a patient can’t follow the diet. At Diet Doctor, we strive to make sticking with a keto diet simple and delicious.

Another important consideration, however, is that stronger science might help some people stay on a diet. If a dieter worries that he may be doing something harmful, he is likely to give up sooner than if he is convinced his eating pattern is healthful.

Fortunately, as mentioned in this article, there are currently 70 studies underway investigating the health effects of a ketogenic diet. That means the next few years will see an explosion of new study data.

Will that be enough to silence critics and make keto a mainstream therapy for weight loss and metabolic disease? Time will tell. Balanced, prominent coverage like this piece in The New York Times and future research may pave the way for stronger recommendations for the keto diet.

In the mean-time, we will continue to highlight the evidence both in favor of — and against — low-carb diets. In the right setting, the evidence strongly supports keto’s use for multiple health benefits, as evidence by the American Diabetes Association support highlighted in O’Connor’s article.

One thing that I have seen personally is the benefit of increased compliance for those following a keto regimen. To paraphrase Dr. Heymsfield, a diet only works if you can stick to it. The lack of hunger and increased enjoyment on a keto diet makes it easier for many patients to comply, long-term.

Is that the case for you? You only can tell if you try. Rest assured — we will be here to help you along the way.

Thanks for reading,
Bret Scher, MD FACC

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