The Pros & Cons: What You Need to Know About the Keto Diet
Bacon, steak, avocado, repeat. That’s a snapshot of the keto diet (short for ketogenic diet), the latest weight loss trend. The diet is high in saturated fats and low in carbs. That’s right – instead of a bowl of fruit and oatmeal in the morning, the “keto” tribe suggests whole eggs, bacon, and “bullet-proof coffee” (i.e. 1 cup of coffee with 1 Tablespoon coconut oil and 1 Tablespoon butter).
Intuitively, your first instinct in the morning probably not to throw butter and oil in your coffee for weight loss – but some research shows otherwise. While many tout the effectiveness of the Keto Diet, it ranked last on U.S. News’ list for Best Diets for Healthy Eating. So what’s the verdict?
First, let’s look at what it is.
What is keto?
It’s short for ketogenic, which is named after the distinguishing process of the diet, called ketosis. On this diet, you reduce your caloric intake and essentially deprive your body of carbohydrates with an intake of around 20-25 grams daily (the same amount of carbohydrates in one apple). Carbohydrates are converted into glucose – which your body uses as its primary energy source, completely dismissing stored fats. When your body can’t produce glucose, it produces ketones – which break down fats as energy. Ketosis will usually begin two to four days after maintaining the 20-25 grams of carbohydrates (note: values may vary).
Keto helps you lose weight – just like any other diet that allows a calorie deficit. The low-carb, high-fat diet has been shown to shed more body weight over the course of 12 months than a low-fat diet alone. The well-known Atkins diet, which similarly restricts carbohydrates, also wins the match in terms of weight loss when squaring up to three other lesser-known high-carb diets: Ornish, Zone, and LEARN.
On a wellness note, children who have epilepsy have responded well to the ketogenic diet, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information – because of the switch of energy sources. Some, but less evidence has also showed uplifting results in patients with Parkinson’s, ALS, and Alzheimer’s.
If you’re considering a keto diet for short term rapid weight loss, we won’t sugarcoat it – it’s extreme, (which makes it hard to follow). The extent of “long-term” research on the diet only goes up to about a year – it’s not sustainable for most people. Another con is the fact that as soon as carbs show up to the party again (and eventually, they will), you’ll spike in water weight. Some studies have also shown that the diet, when practiced for longer terms, may promote tumor growth.
Some of the possible temporary side effects from rapid weight loss associated with the Keto Diet are lethargy, flu-like symptoms, constipation, excessive cravings, bad breath and leg cramps.
Weight loss for the long run
Slow and steady wins the race. Since many specialized diets can lead to weight fluctuations later, you may opt to find a more sustainable program. The nutritionists at Thrive Fitness can advise you on the pros and cons of specialty diets vs. a diet comprised of proteins, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats.
With balanced nutrition, you’ll enjoy improved health and immunity, natural energy, and sustainable weight loss. (You may even be able to enjoy a small cheat meal here or there that won’t wreak havoc on your progress).
The decision to put certain foods in your body should not be taken lightly – that’s why Thrive Fitness offers nutritional coaches to create the perfect program for you. To find out which one of the hundreds of diets out there are best for you, contact Thrive Fitness today or email firstname.lastname@example.org.