In this article we will take a look at the popular Keto diet to see if it’s right for you.
Even with all the fitness facilities, exercise specialists, weight loss programs, healthy food options, and meal preparation tips and tricks that are available throughout the country, obesity is on the rise. According to the World Health Organization, obesity rates over the last 47 years have tripled all over the world. This is staggering growth, affecting both adults and children alike. In short, people who are obese have a body mass index over 30 and are predisposed to conditions such as diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and even death.
So why is this the case? Aside from the ever-growing fast-food industry, a decrease in exercise can also be attributed to overweight and obese individuals. But what if you have started an exercise program, and now you need to get your diet on the right track? The options are endless for those looking for a bit of guidance when it comes to the right foods to eat in order to lose weight and/or maintain a healthy weight.
Let’s take a deeper look into the keto diet: what type of diet it is, the benefits of this type of diet plan, foods that are the focus of keto, and possible side effects. From there, you can discern if this diet is right for you and your fitness goals!
What is Keto?
From Atkins and Paleo to South Beach and vegetarianism, the list of possible diet routes goes on. Another prominent weight loss diet is the ketogenic diet (also known as keto). This style of dieting essentially aims to switch your energy source from carbohydrates to fat, utilizing ketones to fuel the body and therefore lose weight. In layman’s terms, you’ll decrease your consumption of carbohydrates while focusing more on eating fat.
According to StatPearls, the macronutrient breakdown of a keto diet would look like the following:
- 55-60% fat
- 30-35% protein
- 5-10% carbohydrates
In essence, the body breaks down carbohydrates to utilize glucose for fuel. When glucose gets too low, ketones are the next source of energy. This then places you into ketosis, where the body is using fat for fuel instead of glucose.
Benefits of Keto
The most significant benefit of the ketogenic diet is weight loss, along with a decrease in seizure activity in children. Aside from decreasing the consumption of simple carbohydrates and processed and packaged foods, implementing the ketogenic diet often has one increasing protein and fat intake, which lends to feeling full for longer – thus decreasing unnecessary snacking during the day.
Although study sizes have been small, research has been done on the positive effects of the ketogenic diet for women dealing with PCOS, or polycystic ovarian syndrome. Since a significant symptom of PCOS can be insulin resistance, a goal of lower carbohydrate consumption, as seen with the ketogenic diet, has been able to improve these levels. One trial even noted a substantial improvement in fasting insulin after a period of 24 weeks on a low-carbohydrate diet.
Keto Food Ideas
As noted above, carbohydrates are highly restricted with a ketogenic diet. This means eliminating bread, alcohol, pasta, beans, cereal, oatmeal, and many fruits and vegetables in order to engage in keto fully. With that being said, foods that are higher in fat and are popular include:
Risks of Keto
Any type of restrictive diet will have side effects and risks, and keto is no different. In addition, the ketogenic diet might not be appropriate for everyone because of such a significant increase in the amount of fat consumed (along with a substantial decrease in healthy carbohydrates).
Some possible side effects of keto include poor sleep quality, gastrointestinal issues, overall fatigue and weakness, brain fog, headaches, and irritability, to name a few. These symptoms can all be lumped together under a term called the “keto flu,” which has been noted to disappear from a few days to a couple of weeks after beginning the ketogenic diet.
Being deficient in essential vitamins and minerals is a considerable risk factor when participating in keto. In addition, the diet will be lacking in fibrous fruits and vegetables, which can thus decrease your intake of vital micronutrients for health.
According to StatPearls, the ketogenic diet is not recommended for those who are experiencing liver failure, pancreatitis, or porphyrias, to name a few. In addition, keto diet participants should also proceed carefully when dealing with diabetes.
A recent area of study regarding the ketogenic diet is with pregnant women. Research from Birth Defects Research noted that women who chose to consume lower amounts of carbohydrates during pregnancy had a 30% higher chance of having a baby with congenital disabilities. While much more research still needs to be done within this particular realm, it’s interesting to note that a decrease in carbohydrates can, in fact, have an impact on the development of a fetus and is something to consider if you are pregnant or want to become pregnant.
While the ketogenic diet has been shown to aid in weight loss measures, it can be hard to stick to over a longer period of time and can rely too much on unhealthy foods and fatty meats when not done correctly. In addition, it can be a dangerous game to get into the mindset that carbohydrates are “bad”….when, in fact, your body can utilize them appropriately when consumed in moderation. This includes multiple different types of grains, vegetables, and fruit!
As with any popular diet trend, there will be benefits and risks, as well as people who that eating style will work better for. Take some time to determine a diet plan that will be sustainable for you and your health and wellness goals while also weighing the benefits and the risks. And as always, speak with your physician to ensure there are no contraindications to your chosen diet plan!