National Keto Day Is Upon Us — But Why?

Photographed by Laura Murray.
Because there aren't enough random food-related national "holidays" on the calendar already, the Vitamin Shoppe has officially dubbed January 5, 2019, "National Keto Day." What's a keto, you might be wondering? "Keto" is shorthand for the "ketogenic diet," which is the buzzy diet that pretty much everyone is curious about right now. In fact, keto was the top trending diet search on Google in 2018.
Given how many people likely jumped on the ketogenic bandwagon in the new year, the Vitamin Shoppe's commemoration kind of makes sense. According to a press release from Vitamin Shoppe, National Keto Day is meant "to celebrate the ever-growing keto community and help demystify the diet for potential newbies." But it's also kind of confusing that a vitamin store is celebrating a diet. So, is Keto Day just an opportunity for the store to publicize their keto-adjacent supplements?
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For those who are still mystified by the ketogenic diet, it's essentially an extremely low-carb, high-fat diet. The point of a ketogenic diet is to put your body in a state of "ketosis," which means you're burning stored fat as fuel instead of carbs, Melissa Matteo, MS, RD, LD, CDE, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at Cleveland Clinic told Refinery29. By cutting out carbs, your body's main source of fuel, almost entirely, your body really has no choice but to turn to fat.
These days, most people are drawn to the keto diet for weight loss reasons. But before it was a celebrity-endorsed weight loss program, the keto diet was originally meant to treat epilepsy. (Ketones, acid that's formed when the body burns fat, lower brain electricity, which could help prevent seizures in people with epilepsy.) There's also evidence that the keto diet could improve blood sugar levels in people with diabetes, and help manage polycystic ovarian syndrome. So, keto could be promising from a medical perspective — but for weight loss, it hasn't been shown to be sustainable long-term.
Since the diet is so restrictive and difficult for people to adhere to, it typically requires medical supervision, Matteo told Refinery29. For some people with heart or kidney issues, keto could be dangerous. "I definitely would not recommend it to people without knowing their eating habits or medical history," she said. Unfortunately, this warning is often lost on people who just start keto because they heard it's popular.
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In the year or so since the ketogenic diet has popped off, some companies have started marketing supplements and foods as "keto fuel" or "ketone-boosting." But many of these claims can be misleading, or at least exaggerated. Without truly adhering to a ketogenic diet (which, again, is super rigid), it's unlikely that you'd enter a state of ketosis through a supplement alone. Not to mention, if you plan to attempt the ketogenic diet, or take any "keto supplements," you should talk to your doctor or healthcare provider first.
Keeping all this in mind, there is one positive way you can celebrate National Keto Day with the Vitamin Shoppe. For every post that you tag #NationalKetoDay on social media, the Vitamin Shoppe will donate five dollars to the nonprofit Blessings in a Backpack, according to the press release. So, on this pseudo-holiday, you might want to share some valuable information about this diet.
And look, if you're looking for a more satisfying dietary trend to celebrate, the good news is that National Tempura Day is right around the corner!
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