Besides the well-known medical problems individuals can develop as a result of weight gain (high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, stroke, and heart disease), extra weight puts additional stress on joints and bones. For example, the corticosteroid prednisone causes weight gain to some degree in nearly all patients who take the medication and can lead to redistribution of body fat to places like the face, back of the neck, and abdomen.
Research shows that exercise alone won’t help you lose weight, and contrary to popular opinion, it’s not the right message for the worldwide obesity epidemic. A recent study reveals why, suggesting that your body adjusts to higher activity levels, so while you may burn extra calories initially, eventually that rate will plateau. And there is some disheartening research, indicating that solely using exercise as a weight loss method can actually lead to weight gain. “Clients always say, ‘I’m doing all of this activity, but I just can’t lose the weight,’” confirms Mangieri. “I even have athletes who are training for 5Ks, 10Ks, and half marathons, and still gaining weight.”
^ Freeman JM, Vining EP, Pillas DJ, Pyzik PL, Casey JC, Kelly LM. The efficacy of the ketogenic diet—1998: a prospective evaluation of intervention in 150 children. Pediatrics. 1998 Dec;102(6):1358–63. doi:10.1542/peds.102.6.1358. PMID 9832569. https://web.archive.org/web/20040629224858/http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/press/1998/DECEMBER/981207.HTM Lay summary]—JHMI Office of Communications and Public Affairs. Updated 7 December 1998. Cited 6 March 2008.
Con: Results can vary depending on how much fluid you drink. By drinking more water, you dilute the concentration of ketones in the urine and thus a lower level of ketones will be detected on the strips. The strips don’t show a precise ketone level. Finally, and most importantly, as you become increasingly keto-adapted and your body reabsorbs ketones from the urine, urine strips may become unreliable, even if you’re in ketosis.
In terms of weight loss, you may be interested in trying the ketogenic diet because you’ve heard that it can make a big impact right away. And that’s true. “Ketogenic diets will cause you to lose weight within the first week,” says Mattinson. She explains that your body will first use up all of its glycogen stores (the storage form of carbohydrate). With depleted glycogen, you’ll drop water weight. While it can be motivating to see the number on the scale go down (often dramatically), do keep in mind that most of this is water loss initially.
The modified Atkins diet reduces seizure frequency by more than 50% in 43% of patients who try it and by more than 90% in 27% of patients. Few adverse effects have been reported, though cholesterol is increased and the diet has not been studied long term. Although based on a smaller data set (126 adults and children from 11 studies over five centres), these results from 2009 compare favourably with the traditional ketogenic diet.
“They [dieters] seriously underestimate portions, especially for grains and meat,” says Eat Your Way to Happiness author Elizabeth Somer, M.A., R.D. “They eat too many processed foods that are high in calories, fat, salt, sugar and low in fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. They eat far too few fresh fruits and vegetables and when they do eat them, they chose the worst ones, such as potatoes, iceberg lettuce, apple juice, etc.”
In spring of 2015, an abstract was published of preliminary results from a clinical trial in France involving 154 people with primary-progressive MS or secondary-progressive MS. They were given high-dose biotin (MD1003) or inactive placebo for 48 weeks. The results suggested that 12.6% of those given MD1003 showed improvement in disability (using either the EDSS scale that measures disability progression, or improvement in a timed walk), versus none of those on placebo, and there were no serious safety issues reported.
Just this week, a 25,000-person study presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Munich suggested that people on the lowest-carb diets had the highest risk of dying from cancer, cardiovascular conditions, and all other causes. Another study, published this month in the Lancet, also found that people who followed diets that were low in carbs and high in animal proteins had a higher risk of early death compared to those who consumed carbs in moderation. (The opposite was true, however, for low-carb dieters who opted for plant-based proteins over meat and dairy.)