The Keto Diet: Pros and Cons

Chances are that you’ve already heard of the Keto diet.  Its biggest claim to fame after rapid weight loss, is that it’s said to help get hunger under control.

This sounds great, but before you give it a try, it’s important to know what it involves, how it works, and what research says about it. 

In this article we will learn more about the Keto diet pros and cons so you can have a better understanding if it’s the right diet for you! 

What Is the Keto Diet?

Though it seems new, the ketogenic diet has been around since the 1920s as method to help reduce epileptic seizures in children. 

Now a days, the keto diet is known as the trending eating plan that aims to focus on foods that provide healthful fats, very few carbohydrates, and adequate amounts of protein. The main goal of the keto diet is to get less calories from carbs and more from fat to help one lose weight. 

A daily overview of what that breakdown looks like:

  • 5% of calories from carbohydrates
  • 20% of calories from protein
  • 75% of calories from fat

Keto Diet Food

If you decide to choose the ketogenic diet, it is important that you understand the types of food you will be eating and make sure that they are healthful foods.

  • This is a low carb diet, so it excludes foods like grains, beans, fruits, and starchy vegetables. 
  • Carbohydrates should be in the form of non-starchy vegetables and leafy greens. 
  • Proteins include fish, other seafood, meat, cheese, eggs, and plain yogurt (remember, no added sugars or fruit!). 
  • Fats for this diet include both saturated and unsaturated fats. Saturated fats come from fatty cuts of meat, lard, butter, and processed meats. 
  • Sources of heart-healthy unsaturated fats include avocado, unprocessed nuts and seeds, and plant oils (think olive oil, grapeseed oil, canola, or sunflower oils).

Depending on your source of information, ketogenic food lists may vary or conflict.

What Happens When You Choose This Type Of Diet?

This type of diet works by minimizing the body of its sugar reserves. This will then start to break down fat for energy.

This results in the production of molecules called ketones that the body uses for fuel. When the body burns fats, it can also lead to weight loss.

It can take up to three weeks for your body to transition into ketosis. Many programs encourage following a ketogenic diet until the desired amount of weight is lost. 

At that point, to prevent weight regain, you follow the diet for a few days each week, and eating more carbs on the rest. 

Now we will check out the keto diets pros and cons below! 

The Pros

As you might imagine, there’s some definite advantages to the keto diet!

Supports Weight Loss

When thinking about the benefits of a ketogenic diet, the first question people want to know is “Does this really work?”

The short answer is – yes – at least in the short term. This diet aims to help support weight loss through reducing your appetite and boosting the metabolism. 
Generally speaking, research seems to indicate that for obese or overweight people, some additional beneficial changes occur including improved blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, and improving insulin usage in the body.

There aren’t many long-term studies on using the keto diet for weight loss, though there are more now than there used to be.

2020 meta-analysis study demonstrated that a ketogenic diet is more effective in improving weight control and metabolic indicators in overweight people, especially those with preexisting type 2 diabetes, compared to low-fat diets.

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May Improve Heart Health 

Some studies show that eating healthful fats, such as nuts or avocados instead of less- healthful fats, such as commercially-baked pastries, can help reduce cholesterol and improve heart health.

Although it is important to have some cholesterol, the ketogenic diet has been known to help individuals reduce the amount of bad cholesterol. 

This diet may help you reduce your levels of:

  • low-density lipoprotein (LDL) – bad cholesterol 
  • triglycerides

This diet is believed to reduce a person’s risk of heart complications, due to the fact that high levels of ‘bad cholesterol increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

This diet may also help increase your levels of:

  • high-density lipoprotein (HDL) – good cholesterol 

Studies concluded that the positive effects of the keto diet on heart health depend on the quality of the food. That is why it is important to eat nutritionally balanced and healthful food during your process with the keto diet.

May Help Improve Acne

According to a 2012 study, some people have experienced reduced acne symptoms by using a ketogenic diet to decrease carb intake. Acne has many causes and may also have links directly to your blood sugar and diet.

Skin health can adversely be affected through the rise and fall of blood sugar. Diets high in refined and processed carbohydrates may alter the balance of gut bacteria. This is why the keto diet  (low in carbs) can be great for minimizing the fluctuation of blood sugar. 

May Be Effective in Helping Control Health Conditions

First of all, anyone with specific health concerns should consult their doctor before starting any new nutrition program.

All studies that showed improvements for patients with diabetes, epilepsy, polycystic ovarian syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer have all been carried out under the supervision of medical professionals.

As we mentioned above, some research shows promising impacts for the treatment of type 2 diabetes by helping people with diabetes control their blood sugar levels.

The Cons

Of course, with any good thing, there are caveats as well. Some of the cons of the keto diet have been studied by researchers all over the world as well.

Nutrient Deficiencies

Because many whole food groups like whole grains are fruit are excluded from the keto diet important things like fiber, vitamins, and minerals are also eliminated.

This can lead to deficiencies – especially if the diet isn’t followed correctly or with proper guidance. With such high levels of fat and protein in comparison to carbohydrate, constipation is also common for people following the keto diet.

Consulting with a registered dietician is highly recommended to ensure you avoid deficiencies in magnesium, calcium, potassium, B-vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E, iodine, and iron.

While these minerals and vitamins are present in some keto-friendly foods, it’s important to know how much you need to consume on a daily basis in order to meet the goals for optimum health and to avoid bone loss or other unintended repercussions.

Tough Diet to Keep Up With

Simply put, following a very high-fat, very low carbohydrate diet tends to be challenging for most people to maintain.

Staying satisfied with a very limited variety of food often proves difficult to maintain in the long run and may effect how much weight you actually lose and gain back right away.

Unfortunately, what tends to happen is that followers of the keto diet lose weight for the recommended 30 days and then fail to adopt healthier eating habits afterward, which leads to yo-yo dieting and all the negative impacts of that phenomenon.

While this varies from person to person, adhering to a healthy diet is important.

Make The Best Choice For You!

Whatever the keto diet pros and cons are, the keto trend sure isn’t going away any time soon. When followed consistently for a short time with a doctor’s supervision, it can lead to quick, safe weight loss. 

As with all nutritional recommendations, every individual has a different health history, goals, activity levels, etc…. What works for one person may not work well for another. Always check with your doctor before beginning a new diet or lifestyle plan.

Maybe you decided this diet is not right for you? Check out our personal trainers here at Circuit Fitness to see how we can help guide you to your health goals! 

Learn more about the benefits of exercise for your mental health in 2021!

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