The Ketogenic or “keto” diet is a hot topic amongst those who follow popular diet movements. Daily intake of high-fats, moderate proteins, and low-carbs is the recipe for putting your body into a state of ketosis.
What is Ketosis?
As a function of what one eats on a keto diet, the body is unable to use carbs or glucose as energy, but instead burns stored fats which are converted to ketones by the liver. Consequently, ketones become the body’s primary source of energy.
Generally, the body's preferred energy source is glucose or glycogen in its stored form. The function of the keto diet is to deplete your body's glycogen stores completely, forcing it to convert fat stores into ketone bodies to run its metabolic processes.
For sure, this sounds like a great way to peel off those love handles, but we need to look at both sides of the coin before committing to this process. The keto diet provides several benefits over other diets due to the effects on the body's biochemistry; yet it also presents some challenges. If your considering switching to a keto way of life, here are 4 reasons to join the keto diet movement and 4 cautionary notes that you should also consider.
PRO: One of the most popular selling points of the keto diet is its ability to cause accelerated weight loss. When you are in a state of ketosis, your body becomes more efficient at using fat for energy, so less is stored. Ketosis induces fat cells to release retained water and reduces the size of the fat cells. In this state, they are more easily converted into ketone bodies by the liver. As long as you maintain a keto-diet-intake, you will continue to burn fat efficiently.
CON: While eating keto will help you take off pounds rapidly, it can be very difficult for people to sustain this eating regime over the long term. Eating habits are just that – habits. Habits are engrained processes and they can be difficult to change. It’s not unusual for people to make very dramatic changes to what they eat for short periods, but extremely restrictive diets can be very hard to maintain over the long run. A dietitian interviewed by CBC journalist Sara Fraser, cautions that while many like the keto diet for its quick results, many find it hard to sustain longer than 2 - 6 months.
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/pei-keto-diet-ketogenic-kurt-mccormack-heather-mciver-ellis-nutrition-eating-1.4514443 Long term weight loss generally relies on being able to establish different eating habits that focus on whole and unprocessed foods which have a balance of nutrients.
Improved Mental Focus
PRO: Many people feel that carb-dense diets are notorious for causing sudden spikes and falls in blood sugar levels, exerting a significant toll on the ability of the brain to function optimally. Simple sugars may be responsible for mood swings which impede focus by causing fluctuations in blood sugar levels. It’s felt that the keto diet may help you avoid this as its low on carbs.
People on a keto diet have reported the remarkable clarity of mind they enjoy after getting their body into ketosis. No foggy brain or cloudy minds to stop you from achieving your goals.
CON: For those following a keto diet, it’s important to exercise cautiously. The restrictive food intake and the body’s altered metabolic state warrant caution when considering an intensive workout. Extensive cardio workouts could have the undesirable effect of causing the body to begin burning lean muscle mass. Careful consultation with a knowledgeable nutritionist and fitness consultant is advisable.
PRO: Despite strong New Year resolutions to lose weight, many people have had to rethink their decisions in the face of unrelenting hunger. After all, a bagel or chocolate bar here and there could do any harm. Or so we think.
Keto diet can help you control your galloping appetite to achieve ideal body weight. Carbs, especially high glycemic processed carbs have an uncanny ability to make you hungry and crave sweet things despite devouring huge portions at each meal. And if you are always looking out for snacks, the temptation to overeat is high.
For many, fat can be more satisfying than carbs and doesn’t cause blood sugar highs and lows that leave you scrambling for a chocolate-dipped donut. More appetite control equals fewer cravings and reduced weight.
CON: Curbing your appetite is great, however the keto diet lacks appropriate levels of vitamins and minerals that are critical for a healthy body. Many vitamins and minerals come from fruits, veggies and whole grains. As a result, it’s very important to carefully select foods when on any diet to ensure that your body gets the proper balance of nutrients.
PRO: The body contains two types of cholesterols; HDL or good cholesterol and LDL or bad cholesterol.
HDL is termed good because it helps the body regulate cholesterol levels by carrying cholesterol to the liver for detoxification or reuse. On the other hand, LDL transports cholesterol from the liver to every other part of the body. So, their designations are not about composition, but rather about their function in the body.
Keto diet helps to reduce the levels of triglycerides in the body, causing an increase in the levels of HDL cholesterol.
CON: Due to the dramatic changes in dietary intake, there also exists the possibility of creating high cholesterol in people who have a genetic predisposition. It’s a good idea to speak with your family physician before embarking on a keto diet to be sure that it’s a good choice for you.
As with every diet, the keto diet has pros and cons and before deciding which eating regime is right for you, it’s good to take an objective look at your lifestyle and then weight the pros and cons based on your goal, your daily energy needs and your health conditions.