Can the Keto Diet Replace Bariatric Surgery?
Written By: Emma Squillace
One of the biggest trends in weight loss right now is the keto diet. It’s not hard to find people claiming they’ve lost 40+ pounds on the keto diet, after failing to lose weight on any other eating plan. There are also social media channels full of before/after pictures of keto diet success stories. In addition, keto diet fans tout the ability to eat rich foods like cheese, steak, butter, eggs, avocado and nuts. It’s fair to ask: if the keto diet is so successful – and I can eat a lot of rich foods – could the keto diet replace bariatric surgery as the best way to lose weight and maintain that weight loss? Let’s look at the reasons we do not believe the keto diet is comparable to weight loss surgery:
The Basics of the Keto Diet
The keto diet has been around for a century, as a medical diet to treat children with epilepsy. Only recently has it made news as a trendy weight loss diet. The idea behind keto is that eating foods very low in carbs can put the body into a state called ketosis. During ketosis, the cells do not have carbohydrates to use for energy, so they turn to your stored fat instead. This ‘forces’ your body to burn fat, and in turn you lose weight. However, this is more complicated than it sounds.
The Keto Diet is Hard to Follow
The first issue with the keto diet is that it can be very difficult to maintain such a low intake of carbs each day. Some keto plans recommend your carb intake stays at 20 – 30 grams per day. One banana could put you at your carb total. For most people, their daily food is about 50% carbs. Today’s low-carb diets have you eating about 30% of your daily calories from carbs. The keto diet, on the other hand, instructs you to keep your carbs to 5% of your daily calories. While this diet may not be hard to follow for a week, long term it is an extreme and challenging plan to stay on.
Bariatric surgery, on the other hand, focuses on healthy food changes that you can stay with forever. We often emphasize reducing carbs, but to a manageable level. We encourage getting plenty of protein, but also have room for fruit, grains, and the occasional treat. The keto diet is much harder to stick to, and much less flexible, than a traditional post-bariatric surgery eating plan.
The Keto Diet Comes with Health Concerns
In general, when someone who is overweight or obese loses weight, this is a great step in their right direction for their health. Bariatric surgery quite often leads to patients who not only lose weight and keep it off, but those who improve comorbidities, reducing or saying goodbye to type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, hypertension, or high cholesterol. While some people have positive results with the keto diet, there is not enough research to know that the keto diet is safe in the long term. Health concerns center around this diet’s focus on high fat, high salt, and processed foods which may be tied to high cholesterol, heart disease, and mortality. On the other hand, bariatric surgery patients are encouraged to avoid high levels of salt and processed food. Instead, you have the freedom to focus on eating a wide variety of clean, healthy, whole foods.
If you’ve struggled to lose weight, it’s reasonable that you would be curious about a trendy diet like keto. However, to truly lose weight long term, maintain that weight loss, and see improvements in medical conditions, bariatric surgery is the safest and most effective option. To learn more about these surgical options, get in touch with West Medical at 855-690-0565.