Following the Keto-Way: Doctors’ Perception

The ketogenic diet enables the body to produce ‘ketones- small fuel molecules’ and hence is known as a ‘keto’ diet. The human body utilizes ketones as an alternative source of fuel when there is a reduction in blood glucose levels. The belief that the keto diet promotes low carbohydrate, moderate protein and high-fat content, has increased its demand especially among the population aiming for weight loss. Several studies are also being conducted to examine the effect of the keto diet on non-surgical pharmaco-resistant epileptic patients as well as its use in cancer patients.

An in-app survey was conducted on the ‘WhiteCoats’ app to evaluate doctors’ perception on the scientific basis about the ketogenic diet. The survey consisted of eight different questions and a total of 159 doctors from varying specialties participated in the survey.

A total of 159 doctors responded to the survey of which a majority were diabetologists followed by surgeons, obstetricians/gynaecologists, fetal medicine, general practitioners, otolaryngologists, paediatricians, and others. Around 67.29% of doctors responded that a keto diet comprises high fat, moderate proteins, and low carbs. 61.63% of responders think that carbs are reduced to less than 50 g/day in a ketogenic diet. Almost 68.55% of doctors are of the opinion that the majority of cut carbs are replaced by fats and almost seventy-five per cent of total calorie intake is delivered. 56.60% of doctors claim that protein accounts for twenty per cent of energy needs whereas carbs are usually restricted to five percent.

When asked if a reduction in carbs forced the body to rely on fats for an energy source instead of glucose- the process known as ketosis, 94.96% of doctors agreed to it. Around 92.45% of doctors gave approval that the body uses ketone molecules produced by the liver from fats as an alternative fuel source when there are limited glucose levels.

Almost 74.21% of doctors think that a keto diet is more effective in weight loss in comparison with low-fat diets. 74.47% of physicians agreed that a ketogenic diet reduces hunger, increases satiety and aids in weight loss.

Few doctors added additional comments about the keto diet during the survey, the maximum of which suggested that they did not support longer compliance with the keto diet and that its long-term effect on the body remains questionable. Physicians also put on that the keto diet is an epilepsy diet. Advice such as a balanced diet along with regular exercises would be the best option to lose weight were also put forth.

Following a balanced diet helps the body to gain necessary nutrients and keeps the body healthy. However, opting for the option of a keto diet remains a question until its long-term effects are not known.

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