Keto is the latest fad diet that has everyone from health gurus to celebrities singing its praises. The keto diet, short for ketogenic, is a high-fat, low-protein and very low-carb diet which can be an effective tool for those trying to lose weight. But is it the miracle diet everyone makes it out to be?

The keto diet was initially devised in the 1920s for patients who have epilepsy. Doctors realized that keeping epileptic patients on low-carb diets forced their bodies to process fat for energy. When the body only has fat to burn, the body converts those fats into fatty acids. They’re then converted into compounds called ketones.

The diet forces your body into a state called ketosis, which means the body is relying on ketones for energy. While similar to the popular Atkins diet of the early 2000s, the Atkins diet allowed for more carb consumption. On the keto diet, it’s usually recommended you eat somewhere from 10 to 35 grams of carbs a day.

Those participating in the keto diet should aim to get 80 to 90 percent of the calories they consume a day from fat, and the remaining 10 to 20 percent from a mixture of protein and carbs. The diet makes it practically impossible to consume any fruit or dairy products because of their high-carb content.  

Experts aren’t in agreement about why the diet causes weight loss. Some research shows it’s because your body fat is burned for energy. Other points to the fact that consuming fewer carbs decreases your cravings for them. Eliminating carbs also help you quickly shed water weight.

Putting your body in a state of moderate ketosis is doable for most people, but many fail to reach a true state of ketosis. Side effects of true ketosis include fatigue, weakness, bad body odor and breath. In addition to those side effects, keeping your body in a state of ketosis can permanently damage your metabolism, especially in active women. Some doctors believe the diet can also cause permanent liver damage, vitamin deficiencies, hyperglycemia and more.

Like most fad diets, keto has some positives and can be a tool to help you lose weight quickly. But, be aware of the possible side effects before committing yourself to a state of full ketosis. If you’re looking to lose weight, consider adapting parts of the diet and see how your body reacts before committing to it.