Within the past five years or so, the gluten free and ketogenic, or “keto,” diets have made the jump from medical necessities to mainstream menus as many, many people all over the world have reduced or eliminated grains.
Both diets have been trendy for some time now. Whether that’s a good thing is up for debate, but both have been around much longer than many might realize. The keto diet was first discovered in the 1920s by a doctor who found that the diet was an effective treatment for children with epilepsy. In the 1940s, it was proved that eliminating gluten from the diets of those with celiac also eliminated symptoms associated with the disease.
At first glance, the diets appear similar. Going gluten free requires ditching all forms of gluten and the keto diet calls for a dramatic reduction of carbohydrates while increasing the amount of dietary fat one eats.
Essentially, the keto diet is not strictly gluten free. Generally, those following the diet limit carb intake to 50g per day. Those carbs could come from grains, however, many following the diet opt for fresh fruits and vegetables to reach that limit. Whether or not someone should go keto while living the gluten-free lifestyle is a decision that should be made carefully.
When followed properly, the keto diet drastically limits the number of carbs a person eats each day. The keto diet calls for making fat 75% of a diet, protein 20% and carbs 5%. Following the diet sends the body into a state of ketosis, which forces it to burn fats instead of carbohydrates for fuel. Several studies show that the diet does help people lose weight, keep it off, and lower risk factors for disease.
It’s important to do some research before adopting the keto diet, though. And since the diet causes a drastic physiological change it’s critical to consult a doctor before adopting the diet, especially if you remain gluten free.
“Keto flu” often appears soon after the diet is started. Symptoms include nausea, fatigue, brain fog, and hunger. These symptoms are temporary and should disappear once the body starts burning fat instead of carbohydrates. Minor side effects may also include bad breath, leg cramps, and an elevated heart rate.
For some people, the keto diet is not appropriate. Patients who have the following conditions in their medical history should discuss the keto diet with their doctor before starting: pancreatitis, gallbladder disease, impaired liver function, gastric bypass, kidney failure and more. Those who are pregnant or breastfeeding should also consult with a doctor.
All that said, the diet’s restriction on all grains makes it an easy transition for those already eating gluten free. So, if you have celiac disease the keto diet may be a smart option for weight loss. But it’s critical to do some research before taking the plunge.