The debate around whether or not it's safe to eat ketogenic long-term can be solved by asking a different question. Is it safe to eat processed carbohydrates long term?
With global obesity rates and illness now completely out of control, the answer to that one seems obvious. Carbohydrates are converted into glucose once ingested, so we are basically running on sugar.
Couple that with the fact that carbohydrates are NOT recognised as an essential nutrient for human health and you have to question why we eat them anyway?
For now though, let's just stick to the opening question.
Just so you can feel all justified when you mention what we are about to tell you at a BBQ, why don't we let science give us the answer?
In 2004 a study looked at the long-term effects of a ketogenic diet in obese patients. Here is the link to the complete findings (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2716748/), but for now all you need to know is they monitored glucose, cholesterol, triglycerides and fasting blood sugar levels in addition to weight loss.
It involved 39 men and 44 women over a 6-month period, which is the longest term on record for this type of study. In a nutshell, the findings were really good with significant weight loss in addition to significant decreases in cholesterol, triglycerides and blood glucose levels.
Now if you are not sure why that is such good news, let's spell it out for you. These reductions equate to:
A reduced risk of type 2 diabetes
Less risk of hardened arteries
A reduced risk of heart disease and stroke
Less risk of eye diseases, kidney and nerve problems and that's just to name a few.
If you know anyone with diabetes and have witnessed limb amputation to due to poor blood flow, or severe loss of sight, or stroke you'll know these results are pretty damn exciting.
In their unique, emotionless, science talky way though, the scientists stated: ‘Administering a ketogenic diet for a relatively longer period of time did not produce any significant side effects in the patients. Therefore, the present study confirms that it is safe to use a ketogenic diet for a longer period of time than previously demonstrated.’
We are NOT scientists (imagine how boring this blog would be if we were), but they may have underplayed those findings a bit AND we are fairly certain the above statement has never been said about a carbohydrate-based diet - we all know that comes with a bunch of side-effects.
Six months is not long, so obviously this could do with more scientific attention, but since this study came out in 2004, there have been no other long term studies published.
Now we think that's odd considering metabolic disease including heart disease and stroke are the LEADING cause of death globally (15.2 million deaths in 2016) and the risks were reduced in these subjects.
If you stumble upon something that could stop people dying, isn't it worth pursuing?
I guess the world is just so carb-focused, that the scientists could not get the funding...which is why we'll just keep getting fatter and sicker and it is up to YOU to escape the processed carbohydrate prison.