Recently I’ve had several clients ask me about the Keto Diet Pros and Cons. And to be honest I didn’t know enough about this diet to give them any guidance.
Because of this I’ve taken time to examine the Keto Diet Pros and Cons. And I’ve organized my research into the following categories:
- What is the Keto Diet
- Keto Diet Pros
- Keto Diet Cons
- Keto Diet My Opinion
Let’s begin this examination of the Keto Diet Pros and Cons with an understanding of what this diet is.
What is the Keto Diet
Originally the Keto Diet (called the Ketogenic Diet) was developed in the 1920s to help reduce seizures in pediatric patients with epilepsy. This diet is still used for this purpose. But in today’s world it has become a popular weight loss program.
Overall the Keto Diet is an extremely low-carbohydrate, low protein, and high fat diet. Specifically it looks like this:
- 5% of your calories come from carbohydrate non-starchy vegetables. This means that foods like grains, beans, fruits, and starchy vegetables (corn and peas) are excluded.
- 20% of your calories come from protein, which can include fish, meat, eggs, and cheese.
- 70% of your calories come from healthy fats, with good omega 3 fatty acids, like coconut oil, avocados, grass-fed butter, extra-virgin olive oil, unprocessed nuts, and grass-fed beef (still need to count this beef as part of your protein intake)
The purpose of this diet is to get your energy needs from fat and not carbohydrates. Typically, your body turns your carbohydrate intake into blood glucose for energy. When you eliminate these carbohydrates from your body, then you’ll switch to burning fatty acids for energy. These fatty acids are called ketones. Hence the same of the diet.
It usually takes your body about three weeks of carbohydrate elimination to make the transition to ketones for energy.
Keto Diet Pros
Now to get a good perspective on the Keto Diet Pros and Cons we’ll start off with the Pros. In examining multiple sites and articles, here are the Pros for this diet:
Reduces Insulin Levels
When you significantly reduce your carbohydrate intake, you significantly reduce your blood glucose levels. Insulin is used to move glucose into your cells for energy. Less glucose, less need for insulin. This can help diabetics reset their blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity.
Most of the articles I looked at related inflammation to high levels of insulin circulating in the blood stream. And while high levels of insulin may play a role in inflammation, by far the two greatest contributing factors are:
Omega 6 Fatty Acids
The proper application of the Keto Diet significantly reduces both of the factors, which can then significantly reduce inflammation levels throughout the body.
Help You Lose Body Fat
This is the main use for the Keto Diet in today’s marketplace. Research and anecdotal information indicates that the Keto diet can in fact help you lose body fat. One of the reasons why this occurs is that with an increase intake of fats, there is also increase in satiety. Thus you’re not as hungry.
Because you’ve dramatically decreased your carbohydrate intake, your blood sugar levels are stabilized and you have less desire for carbohydrates.
Also, carbohydrate and sugar laden diets cause people to retain water. Eliminate them from your diet and a lot of your extra water weight goes away.
Finally, most people end up eating less calories because they’re not as hungry or craving snack foods with empty calories. Overall caloric intake goes down. This helps to your body go after fat stores to make up the caloric difference.
Increased Fat Intake
Healthy fats are good for you. Especially those with high omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids turn off inflammation. And helps to support heart health and cell membrane integrity.
Sugar and modern day wheat are the two biggest contributors to inflammation. Additionally high sugar intake messes with your blood sugar levels and can trigger the potential for type 2 diabetes. Plus sugar intake is also tied to cravings.
Keto Diet Cons
To continue our perspective on the Keto Diet Pros and Cons we need to examine the Con side of the equation, which are:
Difficult to Follow – Yo Yo Dieting
Because this diet is so counter to what most people eat, it can be difficult to maintain as a lifestyle. It usually takes your body a couple of weeks to adapt from using glucose for energy to ketones for energy. This can be challenging as your body experiences sluggishness and some brain fog.
Having the attitude that this diet is a bridge to better health can be helpful. Use the Keto Diet to help get fat of your frame and reset you insulin levels. Then go back to a healthy diet with more protein and moderate carbohydrates. This may help you maintain your health benefits.
Eating Fats That Are Not Healthy
The Keto Diet has a high fat intake. Some make the mistake of increasing their fat intake with foods laden with omega-6 vegetable oils. Omega 6 vegetable oils negatively affect your microbiome. And they are the main trigger that turns on inflammation.
Because there is so little carbohydrates in this diet there is usually a lack of fiber coming into your digestive system. This results in constipation. So make sure your 5% of carbohydrates are leafy vegetables with good fiber content.
More ketones in your system can put an additional load on your kidneys. And a high fat diet brings less water into your system so you may experience dehydration. I’ll talk about this in my opinion section of this article.
Your brain gets its energy from blood glucose. Carbohydrates are the easiest way to provide your brain with this glucose. When you switch to the Keto diet you may experience lack of focus and what some call “brain fog.”
Reduced Athletic Performance
In a 1996 study by Copenhagen University, they found that a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet resulted in lower athletic performance. And the International Olympic Committee also warns athletes to avoid low-carbohydrate diets.
Keto Diet My Opinion
In this debate about the Keto Diet Pros and Cons one factor that is not mentioned is the toxins stored in your fat cells. Your body protects itself from toxins by storing them in your fat cells.
When your body converts stored fat to ketones, these toxins are released back into your system. Especially at the beginning of the diet. It’s especially important that you drink plenty of water. I’d recommend adding Liquid Chlorophyll to your water to help detoxify your blood. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons per 16 ounces of water. And drink 3 to 4 of them per day.
Now my opinion is that there are other ways to improve your health. Especially because this type of diet is lacking in the needed soluble fiber to fuel the good bacteria of your gut. And since 80% of your immune system is determined by your gut health, this could be a potential con to the Keto Diet.
My suggestion would be to use this diet as a temporary program that helps you reset your blood glucose and insulin levels. Then increase your good carbohydrate intake to 20% and your good protein intake (especially plant based protein) to 30% and lower your good fat intake to 50%.
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