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Is Keto Safe for Seniors

Updated May 20th, 2024
The keto diet has risen in popularity over the past few years. As a result, many older adults have been curious about the safety of the keto diet for seniors, and whether it is suitable for their health needs. Further, with the introduction of keto supplements to the market, many are wondering: are keto gummies safe for seniors? How about keto pills?

Whether you’re interested in keto supplements or a keto diet, here is your guide on what seniors need to consider before committing to keto.
Plate of Keto Food

What is the Keto Diet?

The main principle of the keto (short for ketogenic) diet is following a meal plan that is low in carbs and high in fats. The exact ratio can vary depending on who you ask, but according to Cleveland Clinic, a keto diet breaks down like this:
  • 10% of calories from carbohydrates
  • 30% of calories from protein
  • 60% of calories from fat
So, what exactly is the point of eating a high fat, low carb diet? The goal of the keto diet is to put the body in a state of ketosis. While in ketosis, rather than getting energy through glucose from carbs, you get it from ketones, which are made when the body breaks down fats.

A keto diet raises your metabolism and decreases hunger, which means the diet may aid in weight loss (which is one of the primary reasons many people try it in the first place). Additionally, research on the ketogenic diet has shown it may reduce blood sugar and insulin levels, and may minimize the risk of heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.

What You Can (and Can’t) Eat on a Keto Diet

Staying within the protein, carb, and fat ratio outlined above isn’t the only rule of keto. There are also guidelines on specific foods you can eat – as well as foods that are prohibited.

There are many examples of keto meal plans available online, but in general, some of the foods that are allowed on the keto diet include:
  • High-quality, unprocessed meat
  • Fatty fish
  • Eggs
  • Full-fat dairy, including butter, cream, yogurt, and unprocessed cheeses
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Non-starchy vegetables
  • Low carb fruits
  • Healthy oils, including avocado, coconut, and extra virgin olive oils
Meanwhile, some of the main restrictions include:
  • Processed meats
  • Grains and starches, like oats, pasta, rice, bread, and baked goods
  • Starchy vegetables, like potatoes and corn
  • High carb fruits, like grapes and bananas
  • Beans and legumes
  • Honey, syrup, agave, and other sweeteners

Is the Keto Diet Safe for Seniors?

Given the potential benefits of the keto diet, it’s no surprise that many seniors are interested in switching up their eating habits and following a low carb, high fat meal plan. But is it safe?

In general, the keto diet can be safe for seniors. That said, there are some individuals that should avoid the diet.

A keto diet isn’t recommended for those with kidney, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, or thyroid diseases, as well as those who have a history of disordered eating. Additionally, the diet may not be suitable for seniors with diabetes, since it may cause blood sugar levels to drop to dangerously low levels, increasing the risk of hypoglycemia.

It’s also important to keep in mind that a keto diet may interfere with the effects of certain medications. This can be a major risk for seniors, given many take daily medications to control health issues.

With all of that said, it’s essential that you keep other health conditions and medications you are taking in mind before making any changes to your diet. Any senior interested in trying the keto diet will first want to discuss it with their doctor to determine whether they are a good candidate. It’s also smart to meet with a registered dietitian who can create a meal plan and set you on the right path towards successfully following the keto diet.

Potential Drawbacks of Following a Keto Diet as a Senior

Even if your doctor determines you are a suitable candidate for keto, there are some drawbacks that you should be aware of before committing to the diet.

Major Restrictions on Eating Habits
One of the biggest difficulties people have with the diet is that it’s difficult to follow and requires a big overhaul of your eating habits. The keto diet is fairly restrictive, and seniors need to be highly aware of what they can (and can’t) eat in order to ensure they are actually moving their body towards ketosis.

Additionally, some form of food intake tracking is necessary to ensure you’re hitting the right carb/protein/fat ratio. The diet is nearly impossible to stick with without careful planning and advanced meal preparation.

On top of that, the parameters of the diet can make it difficult for people to dine out. If eating at restaurants or dining with friends and family is a big part of a senior’s social life, they may find it hard to adapt. For all of these reasons, many people find that the keto diet isn’t sustainable long-term, given the commitment it takes.

The Keto Flu
Beyond the challenges that come with being consistent with the diet, there is another con: the keto flu. Some people find that, when first trying the diet, they experience negative symptoms from the body adapting to ketosis. This can include lower energy levels, fogginess, mood swings, dizziness, constipation, and an upset stomach. While it should be only temporary, anyone interested in keto should be aware of this possibility.

Other Potential Side Effects
These are two of the main drawbacks anyone should be aware of before trying keto. That said, there are other potential side effects, including:
  • Kidney Stones - The keto diet includes plenty of high fat animal-based foods, which can cause the urine to become more acidic. This increases excretion of calcium through the urine, raising the risk of kidney stones.
  • Nutritional Deficiencies - Since the keto diet is so restrictive, it’s easy to fall short on your nutritional needs, especially if you aren’t working alongside a registered dietitian.
  • Constipation - Some people on the keto diet find that they deal with chronic constipation – even after moving past the keto flu phase. This is because the diet limits carbs, which can make it difficult to meet fiber needs.

Keto can provide some key benefits, but make sure you fully understand the diet and impacts it can have on your health.

Keto Pills: Are They Safe for Seniors?

If you’ve done some research into the keto diet, you may have read about keto pills, which are available over-the-counter. Rather than having the body produce ketones (as is the case with the keto diet), keto pills are made to give your body an external source of ketones. These are used to make energy and burn fat, helping to support the ketosis process without having to rely on diet.

So, are keto pills safe for seniors? There are a lot of different factors to consider.

Limited Research
First and foremost, it’s incredibly important to recognize that research into keto pills is limited, and we don’t truly know how effective they may be – especially in the long-term. Some even believe that keto pills alone can’t support ketosis, and that they are better used as a supplement alongside a keto diet. Again, since there haven’t been many studies looking at the use of keto pills, it’s hard to say if they are as effective as the diet, and how exactly they work to support the body.

May Interact with Other Medications
Just like with the keto diet, you also need to consider any other medication you are taking, and any possible negative interactions they may have. In general, keto pills contain two main ingredients: beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) and medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). However, depending on the exact formula you buy, it’s possible that the pill may contain additional ingredients that may inhibit the effects of certain medications.

Not Regulated by the FDA
Additionally, keto pills (along with other dietary supplements) are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. This means it’s possible that a certain formula may not contain the exact quantities of ingredients listed on the label – and may even contain additional ingredients that aren’t listed on the label at all.

Given the potential medication interaction and minimal research, some seniors may decide it’s best to pass on these pills. As is the case with the keto diet, it’s crucial that you first talk to your doctor before adding keto pills to your wellness routine.

How About Keto Gummies?

Additional supplements you may see on the market are keto gummies. These gummies serve the same purpose as keto pills: they provide an external source of ketones to support ketosis.

On a basic level, the only major difference between keto gummies and keto pills is that you consume them differently (chewing the gummies vs. swallowing pills). Otherwise, they contain similar key ingredients, and are both made with the same goal in mind: to boost ketosis with supplementation of external ketones.

Keeping this in mind, you should be just as cautious when adding gummies to your diet, and should always consult with a doctor before trying them. Like keto pills, there is minimal research into gummies, and they aren’t regulated by the FDA. Further, it’s possible they may contain ingredients that can interact with medications.

Keto for Seniors

While the keto diet is generally considered safe for seniors, there are some big drawbacks that are important to consider before trying the diet. As for keto pills and gummies, given the lack of research, it’s still undetermined whether they are suitable for seniors (or the general population).

Whether you are still curious about taking keto supplements or are ready to fully commit to the keto diet, the most critical thing to remember is to first consult with your doctor. A medical professional will be able to determine whether keto is suitable for your health needs, and put you on a path towards meeting your goals.
Concierge Care is a Florida based nurse registry. Since 2013 our team has connected thousands of seniors with quality home care. We are available 24/7 and take a personal approach with every client. Let our family help yours find the perfect caregiver.
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Info contained in this post should not be considered medical advice, view disclaimer.
Concierge Care is a care provider referral service (not an agency). We connect clients with pre-background-screened, pre-credential-verified providers who operate independently and are not employees. Our nurse registry model supports consumer-directed care, where each person determines all aspects of their home care services.
Concierge Care is a care provider referral service (not an agency). We connect clients with pre-background-screened, pre-credential-verified providers who operate independently and are not employees. Our nurse registry model supports consumer-directed care, where each person determines all aspects of their home care services.
Concierge Care is a care provider referral service (not an agency). We connect clients with pre-background-screened, pre-credential-verified providers who operate independently and are not employees. Our nurse registry model supports consumer-directed care, where each person determines all aspects of their home care services.