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Is The Ketogenic Diet Safe For Teens?

Is The Ketogenic Diet Safe For Teens?

Adolescence or teenage is the transitional phase of growth and development between childhood and adulthood. It is a time for growth spurts and puberty changes. Eating healthy is an integral part of a healthy lifestyle and is something that should be taught at a young age. The rising rates of obesity have affected teenagers and children all over the world. In the past two to three decades, rates of adolescent obesity have more than doubled, and nearly one-third of teenagers and children are now obese or overweight. Teenagers who are overweight are more likely to see health problems later in life like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Several pieces of research carried out in this regard have also found that teenagers who are overweight or obese are also more likely to experience bullying, anxiety, depression, and self-esteem issues. Teenagers do have some different dietary needs than adults, but quite a few studies are showing that low-carb diets are relatively safe and effective. Here’s a look at the research on low-carb diets for older children and adolescents.


What does a Keto Diet incorporate?

Dietary regimens which centre around low carbohydrate consumption, like the ketogenic diet, have long been linked scientifically to quick fat melting and sustained weight lossThe ketogenic diet initially entered into the limelight around 1920 as a treatment for epilepsy under medical supervision. More recently, keto has become a popular diet for weight loss. A ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet. It is a protein-based diet that powers the body to consume fats instead of starches to produce vitality. Ketosis is the driving mechanism of the ketogenic diet, and the concepts behind it are pretty simple. When your body is devoid of sufficient carbs to burn for energy, it starts burning fat, which results in ketone formation and is used to draw power for all the activities; this process is known as Ketosis.

So, what exactly does a ketogenic diet entail? Here are a few essentials:
  • Meat, fatty fish: Browse an assortment of low-fat wellsprings of protein — including eggs, beans, poultry without skin, fish, lean meats, unsalted nuts, seeds, and soy items. If you eat meat, eat white meat, at any rate, multiple times more regularly than red meat. 
  • Eggs along with dairy products like skimmed, low-fat milk, cheese, and cottage cheese.
  • Avocados, healthy oils, condiments: Some healthy spices like turmeric, ginger, coriander, black pepper, etc. must be consumed.
On the other hand, here are foods typically avoided:
  • Beans/legumes, root vegetables, most fruits
  • Grains, starches
  • Anything overly sugary, high-carb, or "diet" (overly processed): Try and eliminate your intake of trans and saturated fats, processed meats, and unnecessary sugars.

Why do people choose to be keto or raise their kids' keto?

Many opt to follow a keto lifestyle because it has shown to be an effective way to lower risk factors for disease and lose weight, as outlined in numerous studies:

  • Low-carb diets can lower your blood triglycerides
  • It regulates the optimum functioning of body organs and tissues.
  • It aids in keeping up a healthy weight and helps prevent the gain of belly fat.
  • Protein can diminish hunger and prevent overeating. 
  • It is essential for the upkeep of sound bones, muscle, ligament, skin, and blood.
  • A protein-based diet also helps to balance the production and effective optimization of chemical enzymes and hormones.
  • A low-carb diet can lead to an increase in blood levels of "good" HDL cholesterol.
  • For those with diabetes and insulin resistance, cutting carbs can lower insulin and blood sugar levels.
  • A low-carb diet such as keto can be an effective way to lower blood pressure.

Also, keto and low-carb diets have proven in studies to be beneficial for treating children with epilepsy. The same styles of eating are now being studied for their effect on other brain conditions, including Alzheimer's, Dementia and Parkinson's disease.


Is Keto Diet safe and effective for teenagers?

Several studies have proved the efficiency of the ketogenic diet in adolescents. One study found that of a group of adolescents who went on the ketogenic diet, 60 per cent experienced significant weight loss. Surprisingly, only about 22 percent of participants chose to discontinue the diet thanks to restrictiveness. One surprising result of the diet was a drastic reduction in seizures; dieters reported a 50-90 per cent reduction in seizures after being on the ketogenic diet.

Any side-effects?

The studies conducted in this regard suggest that the average teenager might not see a huge difference, but that some teens might have dramatically better results with low-carb. As for safety, the most common side effects in the low-carb group were constipation/diarrhoea and headache, which aren't serious and are on the milder side. Note: Before making any drastic dietary changes, it's always advised to consult a dietician or a medical expert. Before starting the diet, the doctor looks at the patient's blood work and considers other factors.The types and amounts of foods are carefully chosen and monitored. Patients work closely with a dietitian. Not all patients with seizure disorders are good candidates for the ketogenic diet. Always check with your doctor first.

Which diet fares better: Low-fat or Low-carb?

The adolescents in both groups lost a significant amount of weight, but they didn't find any difference between the low-carb and low-fat groups either in weight loss or in hunger/fullness ratings. However...Some studies have also pointed out that low-carb diets tend to fare a little better than low-fat diets. How? Let's look at some of the results.

  • It has comparatively high protein content which promotes muscle building and keeps you fuller for longer.
  • Due to the hunger smothering impacts of the low-carb eating regimen 
  • These variables can help lessen an individual's calorie admission. That is, you end up consuming fewer calories at the end of the day. 
  • One approach to raising good cholesterol levels is to eat more fat. Hence, it's to be expected to see that low carb slims down, being higher in fat, are bound to raise the good cholesterol than low-fat weight control plans. 
  • The level of triglycerides goes route down. Pulse and glucose levels additionally lower down significantly.
  • A study conducted on around in 55 obese teenagers, aged 12-18, found that low-carb and low-fat diets delivered roughly the same weight loss, but that low-carb diets improved insulin sensitivity where low-fat diets didn't. Insulin sensitivity is a good measure of how well your body processes carbs, so that's a good sign for improving blood sugar control.
  • A high level of the fat lost on a low carb diet originates from the tummy region and the liver. This type of fatty acids accumulation is the hazardous instinctive fat that develops in and around the organs, driving aggravation and sickness.

What is the conclusion of these studies?

None of the studies reported any severe side effects of a keto diet on adolescents, and all of them had low-carb at least tied with a typical low-fat "healthy" diet for teenagers. At the very least, this suggests that low-carb diets are just as good as classic weight-loss diets and just as safe. 

However, Why the keto diet not for children?

The keto diet is not recommended for weight loss in children because it seriously limits carbohydrates, and children need carbs to be mentally and physically active. Children on a healthy, well-balanced diet should typically eat about 130 grams of carbohydrates a day. In contrast, the keto diet limits carbohydrates to around 20-30 grams a day. If parents do not wish to start a ketogenic diet for their children, it is still recommended that children who are overweight should have their carbohydrates limited to complex carbs as much as possible. Complex carbohydrates (like those found in whole-grain bread and brown rice) take longer to digest, which can help prevent hunger. 

Additionally, overweight children should have their access to sugar-laden treats like soft drinks, pastries, and treats incorporating white sugar limited, as these foods tend to cause weight gain thanks to their higher calorie count. Eating healthy food is essential at any age, but it's especially important for teenagers. As your body is still growing, you must eat enough good quality food and the right kinds to meet your energy and nutrition needs. Being a teenager can be fun, but it can also be problematic as your body shape changes. These physical changes can be hard to deal with if they aren't what you are expecting. There can be pressure from friends to be or look a certain way, and this might affect the foods you eat. 

healthy food
Here is a guide to help you understand the value of what you eat:
  1. Loaves of bread, grains and cereals are carbohydrates that provide energy for your brain and muscles. They're also an excellent source of fibre and B vitamins. Without enough carbohydrates, you may feel tired and run down. Try to include some carbohydrates at each mealtime.
  2. Fruit and vegetables have lots of vitamins and minerals which help boost your immune system and keep you from getting sick. They're also essential for healthy skin and eyes. It's recommended you eat two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables a day.
  3. Meat, chicken, fish, eggs, nuts and legumes (e.g. beans and lentils) are good sources of iron and protein. Iron is needed to make red blood cells, which carry oxygen around your body. 
  4. Dairy foods like milk, cheese and yoghurt help to build bones and teeth and keep your heart, muscles and nerves working properly. You’ll need three and a half serves of dairy food a day to meet your needs.
  5. Overeating fat and oil can result in you putting on weight. Try to use oils in small amounts for cooking or salad dressings. Other high-fat foods like chocolate, chips, cakes and fried foods can increase your weight without giving your body many nutrients.
  6. Fluids are also an essential part of your diet. Drink water along with electrolytes to keep hydrated so that you won’t feel so tired or thirsty. It can also help to prevent constipation.

The Bottom Line:

Following a ketogenic diet is both effective and safe in obese teenagers, and has no adverse effects on the health.

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