Let’s dig deep into the pros and cons of keto diet, one of the hottest dietary trends in 2022.
The essential premise of the ketogenic diet is simple: cutting down on the carbs so that the body is forced to convert stored fats into ketones. This metabolic process, known as ketosis, is the alternative to using glucose as a source of energy.
Experts believe that it takes about three weeks for carbohydrate depletion to reach a point where the body is forced to transition to ketosis.
Like most popular diets, there is both truth and fiction to the claims about keto, but among all this noise, there are many good health choices that anyone can start making.
Proponents of the keto diet claim that it is highly effective at shedding pounds faster than regular diets, as well as a slew of other potential benefits. Even individuals who are already healthy use the keto diet to reach and maintain a healthy weight.
Let’s go over the pros and cons of keto diet.
Several studies suggest that participants who follow the keto diet lose weight, especially if they are obese patients. This is because the keto diet forces the body to burn stored fats.
However, weight loss only works if you are eating on a calorie deficit. This means that the keto diet may not be more effective than a regular calorie-restricted diet, and more research is needed to say if it leads to sustained weight loss in the long run.
Losing weight is a difficult process and different strategies work for different people. There is no one size fits all solution to weight loss. With that said, the biggest advantage of the keto diet is that people feel less hungry because fatty foods take longer to break down.
So the keto diet targets fat using a two pronged approach: you’re restricting your daily calories and the body is transitioning to ketosis by burning stored fats. This combination is highly effective for weight loss.
It is worth noting that the first few days (or even weeks) of the keto diet may be due to water loss. This is because the gradual elimination of carbs results in the loss of water weight.
Studies also show that the keto diet boosts satiety – the feeling of fullness. This makes it more psychologically easier for people to lose weight because they are less likely to binge eat or give in to food cravings.
There are a few reasons for this. Foods high in fat are satisfying to eat and make you feel fuller. It takes longer to digest foods high in fat, which makes you feel full for longer periods of time. One study also suggested that the keto diet can lower ghrelin levels by increasing ketone bodies in the blood. This suppresses hunger between meals and the desire to eat.
More Likely to Target Abdominal Fat
Although it is not possible to control which areas of the body can lose fat first, there is some evidence suggesting that a keto diet can get rid of abdominal fat much quicker. This was found in a study published in Nutrition and Metabolism which found that there was an increase in fat loss in the abdominal area.
It should be noted that more long-term studies are required to confirm his theory.
Helps Reduce Seizures
Did you know that the keto diet was first created for preventing seizures? In fact, nearly 50% of children who follow the keto diet experience fewer than 50% of seizures. And about 10% of children achieve a reduction of nearly 90% of seizures. It is currently not understood how the keto diet helps with seizures.
Experts believe this could be because fatty foods low in sugar reduce the likelihood of seizures by altering the excitability of the brain.
Can Prevent Cancer
Studies have shown that the keto diet and any low-carb diet can help prevent cancer. This is because the keto diet reduces blood sugar levels, IGF-1 levels, and obesity – all of which can lead to a reduced risk of developing cancer.
It is important to note that more long term studies are required to confirm these theories. Health experts do not recommend the keto diet for the prevention or treatment of cancer, despite the purported benefits.
Endurance athletes may benefit from ketogenic diets which allow them to set new personal records. A growing number of military personnel are using the keto diet to manage obesity and improve their physical performance. A well-formulated keto diet can help athletes by controlling weight, reducing body fat, improving body composition, and maintaining lean muscle mass.
This could be explained by increased fat oxidation. Evidence also suggests that male gymnasts can use the keto diet to increase strength and reduce body weight.
Blood Sugar Control
The keto diet can improve healthy blood sugar levels and reduce the need for insulin. This is recommended for people with type II diabetes because carbs turn to sugar, and in large quantities, can lead to blood sugar spikes. If you already have high blood glucose, eating many carbs can be dangerous for your health markers.
Studies have found that people on the keto diet lost weight, depend less on medication, and also lowered their AC1 levels.
The Controversy Around Saturated Fats
It has been traditionally argued that saturated fats are bad for the heart. However, emerging studies now claim otherwise. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine suggested that saturated fats did not have any effect on the risk of heart disease. The same applied to monounsaturated fats, which are believed to help cardiovascular health.
The researchers argued that organizations like the American Heart Association should take another look at their nutrition guidelines for nutritional advice. In other words, correlation does not mean causation. In fact, one research even found that cholesterol could play a protective role.
Suffice to say, the relationship between cholesterol and heart health is very complex and cannot be summed up in one blog.
Difficult to Follow
The keto diet redistributes macronutrients in the following ratio:
75% fats, 20% protein, 5% carbs.
This ratio may be tweaked slightly depending on a person’s weight loss goals. In any case, the keto diet is not easy to follow and it is particularly difficult to keep track of your carbs. Individuals will have to consistently track their carbohydrate intake in order to verify that they are in ketosis. You can find out if your body is in ketosis by performing a blood test. A urine test can also help you confirm that you are in ketosis.
Risk of Renal Disease
There is a high risk of kidney disease in patients if they are predisposed to renal conditions. New research suggests that low carb diets can increase the risk of chronic kidney disease, kidney stones, and late-stage renal failure.
Limited Food Choice
The keto diet restricts several food groups, including all grains and grain products, starchy vegetables, alcohol, sugars, and beans. Certain dairy products, including milk along with certain foods, are also eliminated.
In addition, individuals are required to restrict their calories. Many foods that are an important part of a healthy diet are removed from the keto plan. This results in the removal of essential nutrients that may not be good. Moreover, ketosis is like a switch – it’s either on or off. A single granola bar or a cheat meal could end ketosis. This means that the body would start burning glucose for fuel instead of fat.
By eliminating important food groups such as fruits, legumes, beans, and grains, the keto diet is also inevitably eliminating essential nutrients such as fiber and vitamin C. Dairy products that provide vitamin D and calcium are also avoided.
It is strongly suggested to talk to a doctor before you start following the keto diet to prevent nutritional deficiencies.
High-Fat Foods May be Expensive and Inaccessible
The procurement of healthy fats to eat is just as important to the keto diet. High-fat foods such as butter, beef, and bacon, foods are high in saturated fats and not recommended for individuals at risk of cardiovascular disease. Instead, it is recommended to eat healthier fatty foods such as MCT oils, unsalted nuts, and other plant based fats.
These foods are more difficult to acquire and may not be available at the local market.
The keto diet focuses on eating foods that are high in fat. This can lead to cardiovascular problems because eating too much saturated fats (such as the ones found in butter and bacon) can raise cholesterol, especially LDL.
This is a major concern for people with diabetes because they are at a greater risk of getting heart disease. Individuals can lower their risk of heart disease by eating healthier sources of food – such as avocados, nuts, and olive oil. However, as discussed earlier, these foods are not very accessible and tend to be more expensive.
Always check in with your doctor to see if the keto diet is right for you.
You May not be Getting Enough Sugar
Sugar gets a lot of bad rap in the fitness industry. But people don’t realize that sugar is needed by the body to function properly. In fact, the brain is the most energy-demanding organ that requires sugar energy to properly function. This is why it is common to feel lethargic, have brain fog, and be unable to focus on the keto diet.
Even though we have discussed several pros and cons of keto diet, there is still a lot of long-term research needed to validate theories related to the topic.
There is evidence that the keto diet can lead to weight loss in the short term. However, if your goal is just weight loss, then you don’t have to follow the keto diet. Most people follow the keto diet for other potential health benefits, such as the ability to control blood sugar.
Like most diets, the keto diet can reduce your energy levels and is hard to sustain in the long run. We recommend finding what works for your body, health, and weight.
As always, you should consult your doctor and nutritionist to find a diet plan that helps you reach your long-term health goals.