The keto diet is exploding in popularity and with good reason. Aside from weight loss, there are many benefits that come from a diet that limits the number of carbs you eat. One thing people struggle with is whether or not there is a minimum age to start keto.
What age should someone start keto? There is not a minimum age to begin keto. Exhaustive studies have been conducted that show keto is safe and beneficial for all ages, from newborns to older men and women.
Although this generally answers this common question, there’s a lot more that goes into it. Keep reading to learn more.
What Age Should Someone Start Keto?
Many people are often surprised to learn this, but the keto diet was initially developed to be prescribed to kids. To this day, it is used in hospitals worldwide as a tool to help young people who have epilepsy.
Epilepsy is a nervous system disorder that affects the brain and leads to seizures. It occurs when the brain causes the muscles to tighten, stop moving, or tighten and relax repeatedly and rapidly, according to KidsHealth from Nemours.
The National Institutes of Health conducted numerous studies, and they found that children who consumed a ketogenic diet suffered from up to 50% fewer seizures. These effects result from keto causing reduced brain excitability, brain antioxidant effects, and enhanced energy metabolism.
What Is Keto?
Although it began as a treatment for epilepsy, it has recently become a popular way for people to lose weight. It is best described at a high-fat, low-carb, moderate-protein diet.
It is vital to distinguish that although this is a high-fat way of eating, you should be consuming healthy fats. Some of the most common foods consumed are butter, colorful veggies, oils, leafy greens, avocado, eggs, heavy whipping cream, nuts, fatty cuts of beef, cheese, sausage, bacon, and high-fat fish, such as salmon.
In contrast to the typical foods listed above, keto includes no to very little juice, grains, sweets, bread, high-sugar fruits, rice, and pasta.
When eating a standard diet, all of the carbohydrates you consume break down in your body into glucose, which is a sugar that becomes energy when you burn it. When you don’t consume carbs, your body goes into ketosis and doesn’t produce much glucose, which causes your body to burn fat for energy.
Ketosis tricks your body into thinking it’s in starvation mode, even though you’re eating plenty of food. When this happens, your body switches to the backup plan, which is burning fat, which is why people lose weight on the diet.
Is Keto Safe For Kids?
It’s often preached how important a diet rich in whole foods is to a child’s development and overall health. At the same time, I hear people constantly saying that they would never put their kids on a keto diet, yet when asked why, they never give a solid answer. The truth is that kids can only benefit from cutting down on carbs and sugar, especially when it comes to junk food and other processed items.
Did you know that by the time a child reaches eight years of age, they’ve already consumed as much sugar as someone did in their entire adult life just a century ago? That’s insane!
Instead of the standard diet that makes children overweight in alarming numbers, you should begin their relationship with delicious, whole food sources that naturally contain fewer carbs. Kids are creatures of habit, and starting good habits early in life is easier than trying to break bad habits later.
Myths About Keto For Kids
There are many myths regarding children eating a keto diet, thanks to today’s culture insisting that meals be based on starchy foods. Just bring up a growing child eating a low carb diet and watch the heads around you explode.
Not only will people freak out, but they’ll also tell you many “facts” that prove a child should not be on keto. Here are some of my favorites:
- Their growth will be stunted – It’s actually been proven that healthy fat and protein consumed in whole foods help children develop the way they should. On the contrary, high amounts of glucose in the blood are far more likely to stunt a child’s growth.
- You shouldn’t put a child on a diet -I agree with this statement, as a diet deprives you of something. Keto is not a diet, but rather a sustainable lifestyle. When done correctly, your child will be eating food that tastes good and is high in essential nutrients that their growing body needs.
- Kids need carbs to feel full – This logic is insane to me. Foods that are high in starch might make your child feel full quickly since it’s so heavy, but it won’t keep them feeling full very long. Not only that, but they won’t be getting much in the way of nutrition. Real foods with protein and vegetables do a great job of keeping your child satisfied.
- Children on keto don’t eat fruit – Although it is limited, healthy fruits are not outlawed on keto. Low-sugar fruits such as blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries should be enjoyed in moderation. Instead of high sugar fruit, encourage delicious vegetables like sliced bell peppers, which are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
- Kids have difficulty thinking without carbs – What? A diet high in sugar has been proven to have a negative effect on concentration, retaining information, and learning new concepts. It also makes it more challenging to deal with stressful situations. Healthy low-carb choices have been found to improve moods and make it easier to concentrate for your little one.
- A high fat diet will make my child fat – For our entire lives, we’ve been taught that fat is the devil. In reality, a diet filled with carbs and processed foods works as an appetite stimulant, which triggers overeating.
- Without carbs, kids will be lethargic – Everything your child eats will give them energy, but low-carb choices will stabilize blood sugars, which prevent crashes and the energy slumps that come with them.
- Keto eliminates food groups – A ketogenic diet does not eliminate food groups. It merely removes the unhealthy options filled with high amounts of carbs and sugar and replaces them with whole options with real nutrients.
Is Keto Safe For Teenagers?
Some kids have been eating keto for the entirety of their lives, so yes, keto is safe for teenagers. With that said, the teenage mind and body are much different than those of a toddler or adolescent.
The first thing to keep in mind is that teenagers need to make sure they’re consuming plenty of protein, but the rest stays the same. Your teenager doesn’t need to eat carbs to be healthy. Strong bones will continue to develop, and muscle will be built normally as well.
Keto does a great job of providing nourishment to both the brain and the nervous system, which goes a long way to easing some of the most common emotional issues found in teens. These include depression, anxiety, and symptoms of ADD.
A ketogenic diet is an extremely healthy way for your teenager to eat.
Is Keto Safe For Seniors?
Although this article addresses the minimum age someone should start keto, I don’t want to leave out any older readers who may be in the audience. Thanks to the many health benefits that it provides, keto is a very exciting option for seniors.
Let’s face it, aging happens to all of us, and as much as we may try to escape it, it’s going to catch up to us one way or another. This doesn’t mean you have to go without a fight, especially when your lifestyle changes can keep you feeling great for years to come.
Here are some of the most important benefits of keto as you get older.
- It’s good for your brain health – Did you know that your brain is the fattiest organ in your entire body? That means it needs plenty of healthy fats to keep it working at a high level. Eating a ketogenic diet can help protect you from cognitive decline. Studies have shown a positive effect of keto slowing early-stage Alzheimer’s and dementia.
- It lowers inflammation – Chronic inflammation is a problem many seniors deal with and is often the beginning of more serious diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and even some form of cancers. By eating a ketogenic diet, you’ll be turning off the inflammatory pathways your body has grown accustomed to, and fewer free radicals will be produced, cutting down on inflammation dramatically.
- It stabilizes your blood sugar – Carbohydrates turn into sugar when they enter your body, causing a spike in your blood sugar. Keto is great for those who have diabetes, with many people being able to actually come off their medication by maintaining the lifestyle.
- It’s good for your heart – By consuming fewer carbs, your HDL, also known as your good cholesterol, will increase. When this occurs, anti-inflammatory pathways are activated, helping to protect you from heart disease. Keto also decreases triglycerides in your blood, which are often linked to coronary heart disease.
- It helps manage your weight – When eating a ketogenic diet, your body burns body fat that has been stored as energy. Not only will you be a fat-burning machine, but you also will not feel as hungry (once you’re completely keto-adapted) and your CCK, the chemical that tells your brain when you’ve had enough to eat, increases.
- It gives you more energy – When ketones are fueling your brain, energy slumps become a thing of the past. This means brain fog and early afternoon crashes are over! It’s important to note that you may see the opposite effect for the first week or two, but once you’re completely adapted, you’re going to feel better than you’ve felt in years.
As you can see, a ketogenic lifestyle is good for people of all ages!