Are you interested in losing weight? Are you tired of diets that advocate low or no fats and craving high-fat meats? Maybe you’re considering going on the keto diet, the new kid on the block. Endorsed by many celebrities such as Halle Berry, LeBron James and Kim Kardashian, the keto diet has been the subject of much debate among nutritionists and physicians. Are you wondering if the keto diet is safe and right for you?
What is the ketogenic diet anyway?
You need to be aware that the body uses sugar in the form of glycogen to function. The ultra-low-sugar keto diet forces your body to use fat for fuel instead of sugar because it’s not getting enough sugar. When the body isn’t getting enough sugar for fuel, the liver is forced to convert the available fat into ketones, which the body uses for fuel — hence the term ketogenic.
This diet is a high-fat diet with moderate amounts of protein. Depending on your carbohydrate intake, the body reaches and stays in a state of ketosis in less than a week. Since fat is used as fuel in the body instead of sugar, weight loss without perceived calorie restriction is dramatic.
The keto diet is such that you should aim to get 60-75% of your daily calories from fat, 15-30% from protein and only 5-10% from carbohydrates. This usually means you can only eat 20-50 grams of carbohydrates in a day.
What can you eat on this diet?
The diet is a high-fat diet somewhat similar to Atkins. However, there is more emphasis on fats, usually “good” fats. On the keto diet you can have
Full fat cheese
You can also get a whole range of snacks meant for keto adherents. As you can see from this list, fruits are restricted. You can have limited amounts of low-sugar fruits (mostly berries) but will have to skip your favorite fruits as they are all sweet and/or starchy.
This diet includes no grains, starchy vegetables like potatoes (and all tubers), no sugar or sweets, no bread and cakes, no beans and lentils, no pasta, no pizza and burgers, and very little alcohol. That also means no coffee with milk or tea with milk – actually no milk and milk-based ice cream and desserts.
Many of these have workarounds, as you can get carb-free pasta and pizza, you can have cauliflower rice, and now there are even restaurants that cater to keto fans.
What Are the Benefits of the Keto Diet?
If you are wondering if this diet is safe, its proponents and those who have achieved their weight loss goals will surely agree that it is safe. Among the benefits of the ketogenic diet you can expect:
Reduced or no sugar spikes
In hypertensive patients, blood pressure normalizes
Reduced migraine attacks
Patients with type 2 diabetes who follow this diet may be able to reduce their medication
Some benefits for cancer sufferers
Aside from the first four, there is insufficient evidence to support its effectiveness or other diseases as much more research is needed in the long term.
Are there side effects of this diet?
When you start the keto diet, you can suffer from what is known as the keto flu. These symptoms may not occur in all people and usually start a few days after the diet when your body is in a state of ketosis. Some of the side effects are:
cramps and abdominal pain
diarrhea and/or constipation
Dizziness and lack of concentration
Cravings for carbohydrates and sugar
It can take up to a week for these to subside as your body adjusts to the new diet. You may also suffer from other issues when you start the ketogenic diet – you may find that you urinate more, so it’s important to stay well hydrated. You can also suffer from keto breath if your body has reached optimal ketosis and you can use a mouthwash or brush your teeth more often.
Usually, the side effects are temporary and once your body adjusts to the new diet, they should go away.
How Safe is the Keto Diet?
Like any other diet that restricts foods in certain categories, the keto diet is not without its risks. Because you shouldn’t eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, beans and lentils, and other foods, you may be deficient in many essential nutrients. Since the diet is high in saturated fats and if you indulge in the “bad” fats you can have high cholesterol which increases your risk of heart disease.
In the long term, the keto diet can also cause many deficiencies because you can’t eat grains, lots of fruits and vegetables, and miss out on fiber and important vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and antioxidants, among others. They may suffer from gastrointestinal problems, reduced bone density (no dairy and other sources of calcium), and kidney and liver problems (diet puts extra stress on both organs).
Is the Keto Diet Safe for You?
If you’re ready to give up your usual staples and are genuinely interested in losing weight, you might be tempted to try the keto diet. The biggest problem with this diet is poor patient compliance thanks to carbohydrate restriction, so you need to be sure you can live with your food choices. If you just find it too difficult to stick to, you can do a version of the modified keto diet that offers more carbs.
However, the keto diet is definitely effective for weight loss. according to a Recent study many of the obese patients followed have been successful in losing weight. Any problems they faced were temporary. If you don’t have any significant health problems other than obesity and haven’t had success losing weight after conventional dieting, the ketogenic diet may be a viable option. You must be absolutely determined to lose weight and be willing to follow a restricted diet as directed. Even if you have any medical problems, you can follow the advice of your doctor and the guidance of a nutritionist and follow this diet.
Another study conducted over a period of time showed that the ketogenic diet is beneficial for weight loss and also results in reduced cholesterol levels with a reduction in bad cholesterol and an increase in good cholesterol.
Is the Keto Diet Safe for You? Most doctors and nutritionists agree that the keto diet is good for weight loss in the short term. Further studies are needed in the long term. Remember that obesity is not a viable choice as it comes with its own risk of health problems.
Thanks to Smiti Munwani