The ketogenic diet has become very fashionable in recent times. This modern dietary regimen, called the keto diet, claims to have a variety of advantages for the body from faster weight reduction to better control of blood sugar.
Despite its popularity, the keto diet has both its pros and cons. Let us evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of the ketogenic diet to determine whether it fits with the objectives of your health and wellbeing.
The keto diet is one that is comprised of high amounts of fat, limited carbohydrates, and a moderate quantity of protein. The keto diet limits the amount of carbohydrates consumed, similar to many other dietary trends. In contrast to low carb diets such as Atkins and Paleo, the keto diet focuses mainly on consuming high-fat fare.
The principal ingredients of a keto diet are foods which are rich in fats rather than other low carb diets that focus on protein. In fact, a standard keto diet generally contains a whopping 70% to 80% of daily calories from fat, 10% to 20% from protein, and only 5% to 10% from carbohydrates.
When you limit the amount of carbohydrates you consume and instead substitute with fats, your body will burn off its own fat for energy, resulting in a metabolic state known as ketosis. When your body is in ketosis, it will depend on ketones as its source of energy; these ketones originate from the fat stored in the liver.
Keto Diet Pros and Cons
Are you curious to know if the keto diet is effective for reducing weight? No straightforward response can be given. In reality, the evidence that approves of the keto diet as an aid for weight loss is inconsistent.
Let’s have an in-depth look at the merits and demerits of the keto diet to further examine the benefits and drawbacks of this very fashionable dietary regimen.
Keto Diet Pros
1. Initial rapid weight loss
Many people are attracted to the ketogenic diet as it generally results in rapid weight loss which has made it one of the most popular diet choices.
When you don’t give your body any carbs, which are the prime fuel for your brain and other brain-powered areas, an alternative energy source known as ketones is formed from stored fat.
In addition, reducing your intake of carb-containing meals will cause you to eat more high fat and high protein dishes, leading to a fuller and more satisfied feeling. Also, when following a ketogenic diet, numerous individuals still consume fewer calories than their body needs, which can help to cause more weight loss.
A previous investigation explored the ramifications of a very low-carb diet on body composition and cardiovascular risk factors.
Researchers discovered that those who followed a keto diet lost 2.2 times more weight than individuals consuming a low-calorie, low-fat regimen, and also noticed enhancements in their triglyceride and HDL (good) cholesterol levels.
It should be taken into account that several of the research studies that examine the potency of the ketogenic diet in association to weight loss are brief in length. It is hard to tell if the keto diet will be effective in the long-term as a way to lose weight.
There are four potential physiological reasons for rapid weight loss in the first weeks and months of the keto diet:
- Appetite reduction/satiety and altered hunger hormones
- Decreased fat storage and increased fat utilization
- Increased fat burning efficiency,
- Increased thermic effect and calorie utilization required to break down protein as fuel and convert it to glucose (as well as fat).
Research indicates that the ketogenic diet might be a better choice than a severely restricted calorie regimen that physicians recommend to assist people in losing weight before bariatric surgery.
In a study that compared the two, there were notable decreases in BMI and reduced post-operative hospital visits in the keto diet group; only 2.8% stayed beyond 3 days, which is a much lower rate compared to 10.8% of those in the very-low-calorie diet group.
BMI is an obsolete, prejudiced assessment which does not consider various elements like body structure, ethnicity, race, gender and age.
Though it has its shortcomings, BMI continues to be embraced in the medical field due to the affordability and expediency involved with gauging overall health and predicting outcome.
Can somebody on the ketogenic diet maintain their weight after the initial loss? That’s the large issue that needs to be answered. Anyone who resumes past practices will put the pounds back on regardless of what techniques were used for shedding weight.
Despite this, research on retaining weight loss with a ketogenic diet incorporated two keto diet templates followed by a Mediterranean eating style.
It is unclear if the ketogenic diet, which can result in quick weight reduction, is the most suitable method for promoting and sustaining a healthy weight in the long run.
2. May be effective in managing epilepsy
The keto diet has been utilized for many years as a method of controlling convulsions in certain individuals with epilepsy.
Researchers have not yet discovered the exact way in which it works, however, they believe that consuming a diet low in carbs and high in fat alters the electrical activity in the brain, thus decreasing its inclination toward seizures.
A research paper from 2019 reported that the ketogenic diet may help treat epileptic conditions that don’t respond to drugs, as it could reduce the number of seizures and also enhance cognitive abilities.
3. Possible increased satiety and decreased hunger between meals
Anyone on a keto diet has a multitude of fatty foods they can pick from. Fatty foods have the ability to make us feel fuller for longer, which stops us from eating too much or snacking between meals.
A review and analysis conducted in 2015 discovered that those on a keto diet felt considerably less appetite and were more satisfied than previously even though they had to abide to a calorie limit and lost considerable amounts of weight.
4. Improved blood sugar control
It appears that the keto diet may have beneficial effects on sugar levels in the blood, particularly for those who have diabetes. Limiting carbohydrates may help stop sharp increases in blood sugar, potentially decreasing your requirement for insulin.
A survey carried out in 2018 revealed that those with diabetes who stuck to a keto diet had a lower chance of hypoglycemia and better outcomes in regards to controlling their blood sugar levels.
5. Reduced abdominal fat
A lot of individuals who start a diet regimen to slim down wish that the pounds they shed will be primarily in the stomach region. Unfortunately, we can’t choose where fat loss occurs. Some evidence exists which suggests that a keto diet may be more likely to affect abdominal fat than other types of fat.
An investigation carried out in the journal Nutrition and Metabolism investigated the effects of both low-fat eating plans and extremely low-carbohydrate diet plans on body composition.
Researchers determined that overly carb-restricted diets yielded greater results than reduced fat diets in terms of short-term weight and fat loss. They determined that there was a rise in fat loss in the abdominal region.
The authors of the research emphasized that additional data is needed to confirm the advantage.
6. Improved athletic performance
An examination of ketogenic diets was undertaken to determine if sports performance would be enhanced with the low-carbohydrate-high-fat diet plan. According to research, keto diets may help athletes:
It seems like people who take part in endurance sports can get used to keto diets, allowing them to be better at burning fat than athletes who prefer a high-carb, low-fat approach.
Other athletes on the keto diet have demonstrated comparable levels of muscle glycogen and rate of damage recuperation as those on a higher carbohydrate diet. Fat burning and the speed of restoring glycogen could be of great assistance to any athletes competing in long-distance events.
Investigations afterwards revealed that male gymnasts of high performance who employed a ketogenic diet retained maximum strength and dropped their body weight and fat substantially. Results showed that pairing keto diets with resistance training may help sportspeople sustain muscle tissue while losing fat.
7. Improved health markers
Some research has indicated that certain indicators of well-being may be enhanced when adhering to a keto diet. A research project looked at the extended results of a low-carbohydrate diet for overweight people.
The investigation conducted by the authors demonstrated that following 24 weeks of the diet, participants had a lower body weight, BMI, triglyceride levels, LDL cholesterol, and blood glucose along with increased HDL cholesterol.
It is unclear if anyone who tries a ketogenic diet will get the same advantages due to the range of approaches and kinds of food (especially fats) taken in.
Keto Diet Cons
The ketogenic diet is not exempt from any of the potential detriments that come with any other diet. An investigation is still proceeding regarding the influence of the diet on some medical states, and the results are frequently contradictory. The rigidity of the diet makes it difficult for many people to maintain for a prolonged period of time.
Aggressive dieting or eating plans that omit certain foods can often lead to an undesired result of excess recovered pounds, as people often end up longing for the so-called ‘off-limit’ foods. Taking into account the downsides, it is important to be aware of the drawbacks that come with the keto diet, as there may be some health advantages.
1. Keto flu
Symptoms appearing as an aftermath of ketosis are referred to as the keto flu. The signs and indicators, which may resemble those of influenza, come from your body’s adjustment to a significant decrease in carbohydrates.
The effects of the keto flu can go from mild to extreme and can be visible when beginning the diet in a few days, and may last for one week or longer. Common symptoms of the keto flu may include:
- Stomach pain
- Trouble sleeping
2. Not Sustainable
For the majority of individuals, the prospect of never eating carbohydrates again can be intimidating. Many studies appear to suggest that it is unlikely to last if someone attempts to give up carbs for a long time.
A research article from 2015 reported that only 45% of the people tested had the ability to observe a keto diet due to its associated negative effects, such as cravings, a sense of loneliness, and other difficult emotions.
The lasting power of your dietary habits is probably more important than which particular diet you opt to go with.
So when selecting a dietary regimen, make sure it is something that you can maintain and follow for a lengthy period of time. We have assembled a list of keto-friendly food options that will simplify life by providing ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.
3. Nutrient Deficiencies
It shouldn’t be a surprise, but if you take out an entire food group, it’s bound to have an impact on the nutritional value of your diet and you could be lacking in certain nutrients.
The keto diet eliminates most fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes because they give essential vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, and phytonutrients.
Studies indicate that consuming an extremely low carb diet such as the keto diet may result in inadequate intakes of thiamin, folate, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium, iron, and potassium.
In addition, ketogenic diets usually lack the necessary dietary fiber required for proper intestinal functioning. Short-chain fatty acids in the colon are produced via the consumption of fiber.
SCFAs have major impacts on one’s health, such as intensifying the intake of nutrients, causing a feeling of satiety for a more extended period, and strengthening the immune system.
4. Expensive and inaccessible
Choosing healthy fats is important. Some individuals who pay attention to their diet anticipate consuming bacon, beef, and butter, though these products contain high amounts of saturated fat.
Substituting the ketogenic diet with healthier alternatives suggests eating coconut oil, MCT oils, avocado, raw unsalted nuts, and other plant-derived fats.
These items tend to be pricier than staples typically eaten in a typical American diet, such as rice, pasta, bread, and pre-made meals. Furthermore, some foods that are suitable for a ketogenic diet may not be obtainable in all supermarkets.
An example of this is that you can find packeted coconut at your local store, but you may not be able to purchase coconut oil there. Avocados can be found quite easily in many supermarkets, yet avocado oil may require more searching and be pricier.
5. Health concerns and contraindications
Studies that are relatively small in size have suggested that the ketogenic diet is safe over a short period of time. However, large-scale studies on long-term effects are not available.
Research on the effect of a ketogenic diet for those who are pregnant or trying to conceive has yielded varying results.
Some studies have proposed that a diet low in carbs might help with hormonal regulation to achieve pregnancy, yet other investigations conducted on animals have indicated that a ketogenic diet during pregnancy might have side effects on the unborn child.
Medical experts recommend against the ketogenic diet for those with pancreatitis, liver failure, disturbances in fat metabolism, primary carnitine deficiency, carnitine palmitoyltransferase deficiency, carnitine translocase deficiency, porphyrias, or pyruvate kinase deficiency.
People with diabetes who use insulin or drugs to control hypoglycemia must not start this diet without first consulting a doctor to adjust their medication.