Keto Diet: Good for you?

Blacksburg, Va., April 16–Promoting healthy living: Dietician, Kristen Chang, has been an athlete her entire life and is especially passionate about helping fellow athletes improve their performances through nutrition. (Photo: Hannah Bumgarner)

by Hannah Bumgarner — 

The fast-paced culture in America has caused people to search for immediacy in their journey to their desired body weight through thousands of different fad diets. The keto diet has gained momentum in recent years, especially on social media platforms. According to Shape Magazine, over half a million people have tagged #ketotransformation on Instagram photos.

While many are eager to share their testimonials to all who will listen, what are the experts saying about this diet?

The keto state is one where the body uses fat for energy as opposed to carbs, therefore the ketogenic diet requires a low-carb intake and high intake of fats and proteins. It is suggested that 70 percent of one’s daily calories come from fats, 25 percent from proteins, and only 5 percent from carbohydrates, according to a beginner keto guide. 

“Carbs are not the enemy,” is a phrase that dietician and current professor in the Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise department at Virginia Tech, Kristen Chang, has spent her career preaching to her clients and students.

According to Chang, she takes a nonrestrictive approach to dieting, therefore she believes diets like keto promote unhealthy relationships with food and have negative effects both mentally and physically.

“Glucose is the primary fuel for your brain and a lot of individuals I’ve worked with in the past that aren’t getting enough carbohydrates are really feeling the effects from a cognitive standpoint whether they choose to acknowledge it or not,” said Chang.

Chang spent three years running her own practice before returning to her alma mater of Virginia Tech as a professor. During her time as a personal dietician, she was asked by a client to guide them through the keto diet and she declined that client because it doesn’t align with her “dietary philosophy.”

As research published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information Journal states, the ketogenic diet was originally developed as a nutritional treatment to epilepsy in the 1920s. This study proved that this low-carb diet could be extremely beneficial for those suffering from seizures if they are closely monitored by medical professionals and dietitians.

Maddi Batts, a senior at Virginia Tech, only exercised the keto program for a month but saw significant results of losing ten pounds during that time. The results she was looking for, quick weight loss, was acquired, but she also said that she put some of the weight back on after resuming a less restricted diet.

“I think the results are a lot quicker and noticeable, but it’s not as much of a manageable lifestyle, in my opinion,” said Batts.

Promotions of various diets continue to flood the media ensuring a quick fix to any body dissatisfaction, but many nutrition experts such as Chang are standing firm in their belief that small healthy changes and learning to see food as fuel for the body are more sustainable practices.


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