Is keto right for you?
The internet and women’s magazines are crowded with diet options for people looking to lose weight quickly. One that’s gained traction is the ketogenic diet, or keto for short.
Like Atkins and many other successful weight-loss regimens, this diet is based on eliminating carbohydrates, pushing the body into a state near starvation, without actually starving it.
It originated not as a weight loss solution but as a therapeutic treatment for epilepsy. By limiting carbohydrate intake to 20-50 grams per day, this diet puts the body into a state called ketosis. Without carbs, the body does not have enough of its normal energy source, glucose, to stay in operation, so it burns stored fats, resulting in a buildup of acids called ketones in the body.
Essentially, you’re forcing your body into starvation mode without actually starving yourself. That sounds extreme because it is, and the ketogenic diet is not without its drawbacks. Here are some of the pros and cons of eating keto.
PRO: Reduced Insulin and Inflammation
The all-important hormone insulin, responsible for shuttling energy-giving glucose from the blood to the muscles and tissues, causes inflammation in the body when you have too much of it in your system. The keto diet decreases your levels of insulin, since there’s far less glucose in need of transportation, and thus cuts down on inflammation, which can be extremely painful in some cases.
CON: You Can’t Eat Hardly Anything
If you’re a foodie, the restrictiveness of the keto diet might be a deal breaker. You’d be surprised how many otherwise healthy veggies have too many carbs for keto. And while plenty of restaurants have caught up to the gluten-free craze, there are very few that are on board with the keto diet, meaning you’ll have a hard time finding somewhere to eat out.
PRO: Reduced Blood Sugar
Since the entire point of the diet is cutting out glucose, a ketogenic diet will greatly reduce your blood sugar. It can be fantastically beneficial for people suffering diabetes. This can also improve your mood, since you won’t be dealing with spikes in blood sugar that can cause anxiety, or crashes that can lead to depression.
CON: There’s an Adjustment Period
If you’re transitioning to keto from a normal diet high in carbohydrates, there’s going to be some uncomfortable side effects. The body won’t be able to burn the ketones your liver is producing, so they’ll be excreted via respiration, meaning you’ll have terrible breath. And many people report flu-like symptoms of exhaustion and brain fog in the initial stages of ketosis.
PRO: You’ll Lose Weight-Fast
The ketogenic diet is one of the quickest ways to cut pounds, and it preserves more muscle mass than other diets since you’ll still get a healthy amount of proteins, making your improvements in BMI more sustainable long term.
CON: You Might Not Get Enough Fiber
Fiber is important for digestion, heart health, and many other biological functions, but many of the most fiber-rich foods have too many carbohydrates for this diet. Taking low-carb fiber supplements can be one way around this problem.