Should Kids Be On Keto? Here’s What You Need to Know
People can’t stop talking about keto and all the benefits of it. The diet has become so popular that even celebrities and influencers recommend it. However, no one seems to be starting a conversation about keto for kids. Can they benefit from a keto diet? Is it safe for kids to be on a keto diet?
Here we will tackle that question and explain anything that you might want to know about kids on a keto diet.
What do medical professionals think?
The truth is that there is no medical consensus and a conclusive answer to whether it is a good idea or not for kids to be on a keto diet. Some people believe that it is all right for kids to be on a keto diet. And then, there are those like Melissa Fossier, a licensed dietitian at Children’s Health, that doesn’t recommend the keto diet for kids.
According to her, the only time keto diet for children is justified is only when there is some other specific medical reason, aside from weight loss. The truth is that the keto diet was initially developed for children and as part of their therapy for various conditions. In the past, it was used as part of a therapy for children who have epilepsy.
Besides, ketosis has also been used to treat conditions such as Dravet syndrome, Glucose transporter type-1 deficiency, Pyruvate dehydrogenase deficiency, and Lennox Gastaut syndrome. However, it’s one thing to induce ketosis in a child under the supervision of doctors and another thing to do it at home.
Why kids and teens might want to avoid a keto diet?
The only reason why some dieticians don’t recommend the keto diet for kids and teens is that it limits their carbohydrate intake. Kids and teens need carbohydrates for their healthy development.
Children need a well-balanced diet that includes around 130 grams of carbs per day. On the other hand, a keto diet means an intake of 20 to 30 carbohydrate grams per day. That’s pretty far from what they need to be mentally and physically active.
Then there are the side effects of ketosis that can affect both kids and adults. Some of the most notable side effects include fatigue, nausea, irritability, vomiting, high levels of triglycerides and cholesterol, constipation, kidney stones, weak bones, and diarrhea. The side effects occur because the body is starving.
If that is not enough, a keto diet may further cause a lack of focus and concentration, something that nowadays kids and teens struggle with even without a keto diet. The keto diet can potentially only worsen that.
The alternative to the keto diet for kids and teens
Just because keto is not that suitable for losing weight, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t any other health diets for kids and teens to achieve a healthy weight. Here are a few practical tips on how to put your kid on a path to lose weight.
• Encourage it to take part in some physical activity that he or she likes. For some kids that can be playing a sport, while for others it can be dance and music. The idea is to get them off their chairs and get them moving.
• Be positive and honest with them. Give them the facts and explain to them that certain foods can help them focus better on school or give them more energy while playing their favorite sport.
• Limit foods with added sugar and processed foods. The lesser you get such foods, the better. Instead, fill the fridge with healthy and tasty snacks.
• You can cook healthy meals and set an example by eating healthy food.
• Reward the kids for their efforts to lose weight or when they grab a healthy snack.
• Don’t focus on the scale every time, and don’t be too strict. Kids come in all shapes and sizes. Stressing them about their weight can be counterproductive.
We can conclude that the keto diet is not quite suitable for children and teens alike. They can’t afford the lack of carbs as that can affect their development. Instead, focus on other means of losing weight. It matters that you don’t make a big deal of that and stress the kid. If needed, talk to a dietitian and ask for a diet plan suitable for kids of that age.
You can turn to keto, only if the kid suffers from a particular condition and the doctor recommends it as part of its treatment.