Keto Diet Pros & Cons: Know Before You Try
It’s no secret that cutting carbs is a quick way to drop weight. Carb deficient diets have long been a staple in fad diet culture as they are an easy solution for shedding unwanted pounds. Remember the Atkins diet? Eat all the bacon you want, they said, just don’t have it on a slice of toast.
Unfortunately for Atkins, cutting carbs got a cool new rebrand. It’s called the Keto diet, and unlike Atkins, Keto is not a diet. Sure, it’s referred to as such, but really, Keto is a lifestyle change that requires a rigorous commitment and a lot of hard work.
There is no such thing as a one size fits all diet, which means that despite its popularity and success, there is a very real chance that the Ketogenic Diet may not work for you. This is not to say that it won’t produce the desired effects, but there is no guarantee that you’ll experience the results you want, or that those desired results won’t have their own set of consequences.
Before we jump into the pros and cons of a Keto diet, let’s first look at what the Keto diet really is:
What Is A Ketogenic Diet?
Very simply, the Ketogenic diet is a deprivation diet. This means that you are depriving your body of certain nutrients in order to change your greater body chemistry. By forcing the body to go without a specific kind of nutrient source you can actually change the way your body processes other nutrients, as is the case with Keto. With the Keto diet, carbohydrates are the nutrient source that you deprive your body of forcing your body to look for another source of energy…which in the case of Keto is fat.
According to Eat Right Academy Of Nutrition And Dietetics “Keto is a high fat, low carb diet…that uses natural enzymes called ketones to help breakdown fats.” Ketones are produced in the liver, and when your body goes into glucosamine deprivation like it would if you cut out all carbohydrates and sugars, the body responds by producing ketones to convert your body's natural fat stores into usable energy.
The basic idea is that by eliminating carbohydrates/sugars and upping your fat intake, you can change your body chemistry to the point where your liver will produce the fat-burning enzymes we call ketones. The enhanced production of these enzymes radically shifts the biology of your digestive system in order to run on fat instead of glucose (aka sugar). Once your body fully acclimates to running on fat instead of sugar it is easier to control your weight by simply limiting or increasing caloric intake.
Before we get into the pros and cons of a Keto diet we want to reaffirm:
All of the following pros and cons of the keto diet are the culmination of opinions and experiences of a multitude of groups and viewpoints.
It should also be noted that if you are interested in changing your diet to Keto, or any diet that involves extreme dietary restrictions, you should first consult your doctor.
What are the Pros of a Keto Diet?
1) Weight Loss
The biggest selling point for the Ketogenic diet is its connection to weight loss. Many Keto diet enthusiasts believe that the Keto diet’s special way of reprogramming your internal systems not only helps burn excess fat but also helps to promote new, lean muscle growth. According to Crisp Regional, the Keto Diet helps you “lose body fat more quickly [and] increasing foods that are high in fat can help eliminate cravings.” The elimination of cravings, combined with Keto’s targeted methods of burning fat, both contribute to greater weight loss.
2) Certain Health Benefits
There are certain groups of people who may experience health benefits due to a Keto diet. Such groups include those suffering from diabetes, those who are obese, and according to Northwestern Medicine “the keto diet helps reduce seizures in pediatric patients with epilepsy.”
3) Keto-Friendly Substitutes
Believe it or not there are sugar alternatives out there that are not harmful to your body. Things like monk fruit sugar and natural erythritol are both sweeteners that, due to their complex chemical structure, do not get digested like normal sucrose. BuzzFit high protein coffee utilizes monk fruit sugar in their delicious Vanilla Latte and Mocha flavors to help with your sweet afternoon cravings without breaking ketosis!
What Are The Cons Of A Keto Diet?
1) Heart/Liver/Kidney Disease - According to the Mayo Clinic, the Keto diet can lead to an “increased risk of kidney stones, liver disease, and micronutrient deficiencies.” The article also states that there is a “lack of research suggesting long-term health benefits” meaning that the long-term side effects of a low carb, high-fat diet have not been studied enough to make conclusive claims about long-term health. This means that while the Keto diet could be helping you shed those stubborn pounds short-term, it could also be causing irreversible long-term effects.
2) The Keto Flu - The “Keto Flu” is a term that gets thrown around to describe the initial stages of your body acclimating to the Keto diet. Some people who switch over to a Keto diet never experience these symptoms, while others never feel these kinds of symptoms subside. The Keto Flu is commonly characterized by feeling foggy, tired, and nauseated. Many people report feeling dizzy and weak and diarrhea/vomiting are not uncommon side effects during the initial phase of switching your diet.
3) No cheat days - this is a big one for a lot of people, and it’s one of the reasons we said that Keto is not really a diet, it’s a lifestyle change. If you’re in ketosis (i.e. the ultimate goal of the keto diet) you can easily knock yourself out with just a small amount of sugar or carbohydrates. If you do slip up and eat a bagel, get ready for some immediately noticeable weight gain in the form of bloat paired with multiple days (if not weeks) of working your way back into ketosis. According to Northwestern Medicine “Ketosis is difficult to achieve because it’s like a light switch: either on or off…[and] It takes about three weeks of carbohydrate elimination for your body to transition into ketosis.” Unfortunately, with Keto, there really are no cheat days.
Wrapping Up: Deciding Whether Keto Is Right For You
Here’s the good news…you don’t have to cut carbs completely out of your life (yet). First, you have to decide whether Keto is right for you. And even then, there is still a certain allotted amount of carbs you can and should ingest based on your distinguishing factors like height, weight, sex, and activity levels.
Cutting back carbs is never a bad idea. Sure, carbs are delicious but our bodies only need a finite amount to sustain our normal daily energy output.
Even if you do decide to jump into Keto full boar, you should rejoice in knowing that you don’t have to give up the things you love. Things like cauliflower crust pizza, egg white tortillas, and BuzzFit instant protein coffee are all protein-rich/keto-friendly foods that help curb cravings and keep you on track with your fitness goals!
Consult with a doctor to help decide whether or not Keto is right for you, and whatever you choose, we support you!