When we say that ‘diet’ is a four-letter word, we basically mean that we think that dieting is comparable to serving a prison sentence. And if we look at most diets, it seems like we have a good reason to think so. After all, diets are full of restrictions; no fat is probably the most common and admittedly one of the harder ones to deal with. Keto is also a four-letter word. The question is whether it’s a kinder and gentler one than a diet.
Ketosis Prognosis? Please explain…
In this article, we’re going to look at the science behind the high-fat, low carb diet that’s taken celebrities, health experts, and a good deal of the population by storm. The “KETO” diet, is it the four-letter word without the four-letter word connotation, or is it does it pose as many problems as it does solutions? Here’s the low down on the keto diet and why you should, or shouldn’t, hop on the keto bandwagon.
What is Ketosis and How Does it Work to Promote Weight Loss?
Ketosis is a metabolic state in which fat provides most of the fuel for the body. Yes, that’s fat, you know, the kind that your doctor warned you about. Although it may seem counterintuitive to eat fat to lose weight, there’s a science behind it.
- Normally, our bodies rely on blood sugar to get their energy.
- When access to blood sugar (from carbs) is limited, our body turns to fat for energy.
- When our bodies rely on fat for energy, we reach a state of ketosis.
- Ketosis is known to have health benefits, including rapid weight loss.
- The keto diet is designed to induce the natural state of ketosis in the body by limiting access to blood sugar (cutting down on carbs) and increasing access to fat.
What Does the Keto Diet Involve?
It’s pretty clear that the keto diet works; the question is whether or not you have what it takes to make it work.
The keto diet is a diet plan that consists of little to no carbohydrates. That means no pasta, no rice, no potatoes, and no fruit. It’s also a diet plan that consists of a whole lot of fat. Cheese (yes, please), fish, meat, dairy (never enough butter!), oils, and green veggies are staples of the diet. Seem like something you can get used to? Not so fast; getting used to the diet is one of the hardest things about it.
What is Keto Flu?
Let’s just say, the keto flu is part of earning your stripes when you’re on the Keto diet. Because your body is not used to receiving energy from this type of fuel, starting the process is uncomfortable. According to Abbey Sharp, registered dietician and nutrition blogger, “You tend to experience brain fog, headaches, nausea, and fatigue, along with bad-smelling breath, sweat, and urine.” However, as your body adapts over time, these symptoms should subside, and things will get easier.
Benefits of Ketosis
If you do survive the keto flu, there are benefits in store. Here are some of the most attractive
- Rapid Weight Loss: Studies have found that ketogenic diets lead to a substantially greater weight loss than low-fat diets. One such study showed that low carb dieters lost about 3 times more weight than low-fat dieters over 12 weeks.
- Feeling Full Longer: Another benefit of ketosis? Feeling fuller longer. Although the reasons why this happens aren’t yet clear, staying full seems to be a popular reason for following the diet.
- Protects Brain Function: According to some research, keto may be the key to protecting brain function. Studies suggest that the ketones that are generated during the diet can strengthen the brain’s nerve cells and are particularly helpful in managing Alzheimer’s disease.
- Effects on Epilepsy: In addition to weight loss, ketosis is known for its effect on epilepsy, especially in children. In the 1920s, the keto diet was introduced as a treatment for epilepsy in people who didn’t respond to traditional medication. Epileptic children on keto diets have shown a significant reduction of seizures and some have seen complete remission.
Drawbacks of Keto
Trading in carbs for fat, forcing the body into a natural (but albeit irregular) state, and presenting symptoms of illness as a result? If you’re wondering what could go wrong with that, we’ll tell you.
- Health problems: Besides showing symptoms of poor health, the keto diet has been known to cause digestive problems. (Search up “keto diarrhea” on the internet for a reference). Experts speculate that this most undesirable side effect may be due to the low fiber in the diet. Check out health.com for “7 Keto High Fiber Foods.”
- Increased risk of heart disease and diabetes: DIY keto dieters beware! Man cannot (healthfully) live on butter and bacon alone! Doctors’ orders are to keep cholesterol levels down by incorporating lean animal protein sources and lots of green veggies. Studies show that high-fat diets, such as this, may increase the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular problems, and early death from cancer.
- Weight Regain: While the keto diet may help lose weight, it is not a means to an end. Because the diet is so restrictive, health experts say it’s a bad idea to follow it long term. (Ideally, it should be practiced for 30 – 90 days, followed by a more sustainable diet plan). The problem is that when people switch back to carbs, they regain a lot of the weight they have lost. As Dr. Kristen Kizer, RD, so aptly puts it, “When people tell me they want to try it (the keto diet) because their friends have lost weight, I always tell them, ‘Just watch, I bet they’ll gain it all back.”
To Keto or Not to Keto?
The Harvard Medical School hit it on the nose when it said, “(keto) is not the type of diet you want to experiment with.” Before starting on the diet, always consult with a health specialist to review personal health concerns, have renal functions monitored, and get checked out for vitamin and nutrient deficiencies. Also, coming off a keto diet should not be done abruptly. The transition to your regular diet should be gradual.