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Diets low in carbohydrates have fallen into disuse since Atkins' time. But now, an even stricter version of the ketogenic diet, called the ketogenic diet, is attracting more and more attention, sparking fierce scientific debate.
Atkins and ketogenic diets encourage people to reduce carbohydrates in their diet. But while the Atkins diet gradually increases carbohydrates over time, the keto imposes strict limits on carbohydrates and proteins. This way of eating exhausts the body in glucose, forcing it primarily to burn fat and produce another source of fuel called ketones. A typical ketogenic diet limits carbohydrates to less than 10% of calories and limits protein to 20%, while fats make up the rest.
The keto diet has been popularized in bestselling books, promoted by celebrities and featured on social media as an antidote to various ailments. Supporters say that this leads to substantial weight loss and can help people with type 2 diabetes significantly improve their blood sugar levels, which drops when people avoid carbohydrates.
But the ketogenic diet does not lack detractors. Some doctors and health experts say that this can lead to rapid weight loss, but that it is not more effective in the long term than other diets. And many say that they find it disturbing because it encourages foods high in saturated fats, which have been linked to heart disease, while limiting nutrient-rich foods backed by decades of research, such as beans, fruits, starchy foods and whole grains.
Last month, three doctors published an article in JAMA Internal Medicine in which they noted that the excitement of eating as a treatment for obesity and diabetes "surpasses" the evidence.
"However, the biggest risk of the ketogenic diet may be the most overlooked: the cost of opportunity not to eat high fiber and unrefined carbohydrates," the authors wrote. "Whole grains, fruits and legumes are among the healthiest foods on the planet."
Dr. Shivam Joshi, clinical assistant professor at New York University and co-author of the article, said that this article had generated a flood of emails, a sign of polarization of the diet.
Although the ketogenic diet may seem to be the latest addition to a current of fad diets, it has a long history of therapeutic uses. Diabetics routinely practiced carbohydrate restriction before the discovery of insulin in the 1920s.
"Carbohydrates are the macronutrients that contribute the most to your blood sugar. It is therefore logical to reduce them. You'll get your money's worth, "said Dr. William S. Yancy Jr., associate professor at Duke University. .
Ultimately, it is difficult to get definitive answers to a given diet, because nutrition studies are usually short-term and not rigorous, and the way people respond to different diets varies widely, Dr. Steven B. Heymsfield, President of Obesity. Society.
"You have to define a lifestyle and a healthy diet that you think you can respect for the rest of your life, because these elements only work as long as you practice them," he said.