Some people swear by the ketogenic diet while others are skeptics. While it really does help in weight loss, there are potential pitfalls to know as well.
The ketogenic diet sets a pleasing premise – it recommends that your meals are made up of 70 per cent fat, 25 per cent protein and just five per cent carbs. (Hello, greasy bacon!) The idea is that when your body runs out of carbs to burn for energy, it’ll look for the next alternative fuel: fats. Most keto followers keep satiated with a good protein and get their vitamins and minerals from low-carb vegetables.
The diet has been effective for many weight watchers – but only if they follow the recommendations closely. Also, it is possible to take the keto diet too far and risk your health in the process. Before you take the plunge, get acquainted with the pros and cons.
(Also read: 5 Low-Carb Food Swops For A Healthier Diet)
Pro #1: You will lose weight for real
In a normal diet, carbohydrates are absorbed into the bloodstream as sugar, which makes the body release insulin. Insulin allows glucose to enter the body’s cells, which the body uses for fuel or stores as fats. By reducing your carb intake, the insulin levels are lowered too. This puts your body in a state called ketosis whereby fats are broken down for energy instead. And that, is the key behind a ketogenic diet.
Con #1: Done wrong, you can gain fat
To get the fat requirements in, people are often encouraged to eat the thicker, creamier options such as full-fat yogurt, whipped cream and butter. While this can be rewarding, people new to the ketogenic diet tend to go overboard with unhealthy saturated fats from meats, butter and fried foods. No matter what diet you follow, if you eat bad food, it’s going to be bad for you. You may also increase your risk of heart disease.
Instead, go for healthy fats from avocado, coconut oil (in moderation), nuts, bacon, and egg yolks. Also, get in a variety of low carb vegetables like asparagus, cucumber, capsicum, mushroom, zucchini, tomatoes and other leafy greens.
(Also read: 4 Ways Avocado Can Help You Lose Weight)
Pro #2: It regulates blood sugar levels
Ketogenic diets may help people who have insulin resistance, type two diabetes or epilepsy. This doesn’t mean you need to cut carbs altogether; rather, it’s better to discuss a tailored approach with your doctor or nutritionist. If you must go keto, try to increase your carb intake to prevent yourself from feeling faint. Those who are stressed will have high cortisol levels, which also increases blood glucose levels.
(Also read: 3 Ways Your Exercise & Diet Plan Is Ageing Your Skin)
Con #2: Low carb diets can be very uncomfortable
People who first go keto might experience some side effects such as headaches, fatigue, and lack of concentration. This is also known as the keto flu, also known as a set of carb withdrawal symptoms. It’s important to stay hydrated during the period of ketosis as it uses up your water stores. Avoid strenuous exercise while you get used to the new diet, and make sure you get enough sleep. If you’re pregnant, the keto diet can cause complications for your unborn child so stay away.
Pro #3: It is meant to be short-term
The good news for carb lovers who want to try this is that you won’t have to give up carbs forever. Many experts are against the idea of adopting a ketogenic diet long-term because of the increased risk to your heart and liver health, increase in belly fat and other concerns. Get regular health checkups while you are on the keto diet – some people stay on it for a few years with no major issues while others quit the diet after a few months. To avoid the post-keto weight gain, some dietitians recommend transitioning to the Paleo diet before returning to healthy balanced meals with portion control.
Con #3: No cheat meals
(Also read: Read This Before Eating Your Next Cheat Meal)
The bottom line
The ketogenic diet is high-maintenance and takes discipline to carry through, especially if you are a diehard carbs lover. Find out what works for you best in the long run, and consult your doctor or nutritionist before starting on this diet.
(Also read: 5 Warning Signs You’re Not Eating Enough Carbs)