02 Jul The Keto Diet: Is It Worth a Try?
One of the most popular diets today is the ketogenic diet (AKA the keto diet). This diet has been around for quite some time and used to help epileptic children, but it has recently become the latest weight loss trend. Before you start filling your plate with fatty foods and drastically limiting your carbohydrates, here’s what you need to know.
Keto Diet 101
The Ketogenic diet is essentially a very low carbohydrate, moderate protein and high fat diet that puts the body into a metabolic state, known as ketosis. In a state of ketosis, the body no longer utilizes carbs (specifically glucose) as energy, but converts fat into called ketones in order to fuel the body. Once your body uses ketones for fuel, you are in a state called ketosis. Proponents of the plan claim ketosis can lead to many health benefits including weight loss, increased energy, and enhanced physical and mental performance.
What You’ll Be Eating
The general ratio of nutrients on the keto diet is:
- Fat: 70% of calories
- Protein: 25% of calories
- Carbs: 5% of calories
On the keto diet, you’ll be eliminating grains (yes, even whole grains), fruit, starchy vegetables, legumes and sugar. Instead, you’ll be filling your plate with a lot of meat, leafy greens and other non-starchy veggies, high fat-dairy (think cream and butter), nuts and seeds, avocado, butter, coconut oil, and high-fat salad dressings. If you need a sweetener, you’ll have to rely on the low-carb options like stevia, erythritol (a type of sugar alcohol), and monk fruit.
Some of the negative side effects of being in a state of ketosis include constipation, muscle loss, decreased energy, bad breath, leg cramps and even the “keto flu,” which often occurs in the first few weeks of following the diet. Headaches, nausea, trouble focusing and sleeping, and also often reported.
While in ketosis, you also run the risk of developing ketoacidosis, which is an acidic state for your body to be in and over the long-term can lead to headaches, fatigue, irritability, and could potentially even lead to organ damage and become deadly.
It’s important to remember that the diet was originally developed as a medical intervention for epilepsy done under the supervision of medially trained professionals. With such large restrictions in what you can eat, you also run the risk of becoming deficient in key vitamins and minerals, so it is recommended that you take a multivitamin and mineral supplement while following the plan.
Another question that is often raised is long-term effects. However, there are not human studies that have examined the long-term effects of following a keto diet, or the long-term effects of being in a state of ketosis.
While weight loss seems to a major benefit to following this plan, when you cut out numerous food groups you are not sufficiently meeting the needs of your body to keep it healthy. In addition, severely cutting out major food groups also makes it difficult to stick with long-term, and when it comes to making lifestyle changes, sustainability is key.
While both good and bad types of fats are encouraged on the plan, a high intake of saturated fat is encouraged, which can raise blood cholesterol and the risk of heart disease. If you’re looking for a quick fix for fast weight loss, keto will work—but mind my words that you’ll most probably be back to your old eating patterns in no time (with the weight right back to where you started).
TELL ME: Have you tried the keto diet? What was your experience?