The Ketogenic Diet
One of the most popular diet trends today is the ketogenic (or “keto” for short) diet. One of the reasons it’s become popular recently is the dramatic rate at which dieters lose weight. But, like all diets, there are both pros and cons of adhering to them.
Because it’s become so popular, we thought it’d be a good idea to cover some of the keto pros and cons to help you determine if this diet is right for you. That said, it’s important to remember three things about dieting:
- Success with a particular diet can vary from person to person. Some of this is based on body chemistry, and no two people are the same.
- Unless there are specific health conditions to consider (such as diabetes), diets should be seen more as guidelines rather than something strict. It’s not the end of the world if you want to have a cheat day (or two). Just remember what your goal is and to take that into consideration when making food choices.
- It’s best to consult a nutritionist or medical professional to find the diet that’s best for you.
We’ll go into the pros and cons, but first, let’s take a closer look at what the diet is (and isn’t).
What Is The Ketogenic Diet And How Does It Work?
A keto diet seeks to induce the liver to produce “ketones”, a byproduct when the body uses fat as an energy supply because carbohydrates intake is low. This is achieved by dramatically cutting out foods with both simple and complex carbohydrates while increasing consumption of foods that are high in fat. When the body achieves this state, it’s called “ketosis”, which is a natural process that occurs in the body when food intake is low. Think about it as forcing your body into a state where it naturally burns fat for energy.
The body primarily relies on carbohydrates for fuel, and cutting carbs forces your body to look for other energy sources. By removing carbs from our diet and increasing our fat intake, we can push our body into the ketogenic state.
Pros Of The Keto Diet
There are a number of good things about the keto diet. Primarily, it can help most people lose weight fairly quickly. Both formal studies and informal anecdotes suggest that by upping the fat consumption and cutting nearly all carbs causes the body to metabolize energy very quickly.
This is a good diet for meat-eaters, who get to eat all the meat they want, but can be adapted to a vegetarian diet, as well. Many keto dieters claim the diet is easy to stick to because they can eat high-fat foods that other diets often restrict.
It’s also good for people with more sedentary lifestyles, as the extremely low carbohydrates intake means that the body doesn’t have sugar to convert and store. Of course, losing weight should be a balance of smart food choices and exercise, and no diet is a substitute for working out.
Cons Of The Keto Diet
Most diets are a series of tradeoffs, and the keto diet is no exception. By dramatically reducing carbs and upping the fat intake, keto dieters are often face health risks if they adhere to it in the long-term.
Studies show that much of the weight lost in the keto diet is water weight, and so after that, some dieters experience loss of muscle or strength (which is why any diet should also generally be done in conjunction with a good exercise routine). The increased fat consumption can also lead to heart and cholesterol issues. Some dieters complain of feeling fatigued, as the lack of carbs means your body doesn’t get enough energy to easily handle basic operations.
Lastly, there’s always the chance that a dieter will “yo-yo”, meaning that they go on and off the diet in an unhealthy way. This puts them at great risk of not only gaining the weight back, which is associated with higher rates of mortality.
For these reasons, we highly recommend that anyone on this diet regularly check in with their medical practitioner and/or nutritionist to monitor and supervise the dieter’s overall health.
So, Is The Keto Diet Healthy?
In the short term, yes, the keto diet can be healthy when followed correctly. However, some people with certain health conditions may want to avoid it. As always, it’s best to speak to a professional to determine if this is a good option for you.
Schedule an appointment with one of our medical professionals, and we’ll help you determine if it’s right for you.
Please call Pain and Spine Specialists in Maryland at 301.703.8767, or 724-603-3560 in Pennsylvania to schedule a consultation or use the contact form on our website to send us a message.