A senior citizen man sitting at a dining table eating a small salad

A significant aspect of life to consider as you age is your diet. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is essential, especially if you’re moving into a new community. You are surrounding yourself with the right people who are there to help you, which can make all the difference. 

If you’ve been looking into diets, you know that the keto diet (also known as the ketogenic diet) is one of the most popular.

But is the keto diet healthy for seniors? Let’s explore the keto diet and if it’s a healthy option for seniors. 

What is the Keto Diet?

The keto diet makes major changes to your daily eating habits. 

It’s a high-fat, low-protein program that restricts carbohydrates such as:

  • Bread
  • Cereals
  • Grains
  • Some fruits and vegetables

This carbohydrate restriction promotes weight loss and balances your blood sugar. Fats should replace most cut carbohydrates in the keto diet and comprise about 60 to 80 percent of your total caloric intake.

Starting the keto diet can be challenging—following it closely and remaining consistent offers benefits that outweigh the drawbacks for many people.

Some foods you can eat on a keto diet include:

  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Cheese
  • Dairy products
  • Greek yogurt
  • Vegetables
  • Eggs
  • Small amounts of meat and fish

On the flip-side, some foods you should avoid on the keto diet include:

  • Fruits (some berries may be okay in small quantities)
  • Refined and whole grains
  • Starches
  • Beans and legumes
  • Processed foods (like cereal or most fast food)

The diet is strict, and to see the best results—it’s important to monitor and follow your food intake rules. 

A spread of various keto-friendly foods including bacon, eggs, avocado, nuts, berries, cheese, and asparagus

How Does the Keto Diet Work?

The keto diet is a partial fast; after you eat carbohydrates, your blood sugar rises, which powers your body’s cells. While partaking in the keto diet and restricting carbs, your blood sugar runs dry, and your liver begins using stored body fat for fuel.

This process is called ketosis.

As the keto diet is a partial fast, your body still has an alternative energy source, and you can use that to maintain lean muscle mass.

So, you know what goes into the keto diet and how it works, let’s explore some benefits and risks. 

Benefits of the Keto Diet

The first thing you may notice while on the keto diet is weight loss—the initial weight loss will mostly be water weight. 

Along with cutting some weight, some other benefits of the keto diet include:

  • Blood sugar control
  • Heart health
  • Retaining lean body mass

The keto diet is linked to lower blood sugar and heart health. It’s a great option for you if you want to retain a lean body mass look. 

Risks of the Keto Diet

Because of the high-fat nature of the keto diet can pose risks to heart disease and other health problems, especially as you age.

The keto diet is not recommended for people with:

  • Pancreatic disease
  • Liver conditions
  • Thyroid problems
  • Eating disorders, or a history of them
  • Gallbladder disease, or if you’ve had your gallbladder removed

With the keto diet, there are both long-term and short-term health risks, including:

  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Muscle cramping
  • Soreness
  • Brain fog

Along with these short-term symptoms, you may be at risk for kidney stones, liver disease, and vitamin deficiency.

Knowing what goes into the keto diet and its benefits along with some risks is a good first step, but is the keto diet healthy and safe for seniors? Let’s explore.  

Keto Diet for Seniors

As with any significant change to your diet, it’s best to consult your doctor before making any decisions—especially as you age.

Following a consultation with your doctor, if you’ve received the green light to follow the keto diet, it’s important to know what you’re getting into. You must get enough sleep and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.  

Your doctor can lay out a balance of important nutrients on the keto diet, which can mean taking vitamin and fiber supplements

Seniors may have some success with the keto diet as it has the potential to promote weight loss, control blood sugar, and possibly combat heart disease.

However, with the keto diet risks, it’s always advised that you check with your doctor or a licensed nutritionist before starting any diet. 

Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle

Whether you’re transitioning into a new stage of life and entering a new community with new people, it’s always important to monitor your diet. Reporting any changes significant changes to your doctor or nutritionist can keep you healthy. 

Get in contact with professionals who can help monitor your diet and ask any questions you may have about the keto diet and if it’s right for you.