Keto Diet: For Army or Not?

Keto in popular culture

Current research is limited to support using the ketogenic diet for treatment of chronic illnesses such as obesity, diabetes and dementia. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics discourages individuals from following a ketogenic diet if pancreatic, liver, thyroid or gallbladder problems exist or if any history of an eating disorder is present. Further research is needed to determine short- and long-term effects of adhering to the diet. Nausea, dizziness, headache, and fatigue (known as “keto flu”), changes in bowel regularity, and difficulty sleeping are frequent complaints when beginning the diet. Long-term health risks include kidney stones, liver disease, and vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

Should the military use it?

Areas of interest for implementing the ketogenic diet among military personnel are also ongoing. A recent study published in Military Medicine concluded that “U.S. military personnel demonstrated high adherence to a ketogenic diet and showed remarkable weight loss … without compromising physical performance adaptations to exercise training.”

Keto has also been a hot topic within U.S. Special Operations due to the diet’s potential impact on increasing time Navy SEALS may be able to remain underwater and avoid seizures. Overall practicality of implementing the diet is still out for debate and not enough evidence exists to support using the ketogenic diet over current sports nutrition guidelines.

In conclusion, the ketogenic diet remains a method of treatment for epilepsy but more research is needed before applying the diet in other clinical and performance nutrition settings. Medical guidance is highly encouraged if you are interested in pursuing a ketogenic diet to ensure nutritional needs are met and ketosis is safely maintained.