Is the Keto Diet Healthy?

Some diets come and go, but keto seems to be sticking around. Although some people in the health community see it as a fad, there is much more to it. In fact, I don’t think that the keto diet is going anywhere. In this article you’ll find out exactly why as we explore the answer to this question: is the keto diet healthy?

What is the Ketogenic Diet?

The ketogenic diet, also called the keto diet, is a diet that essentially eliminates ( well, drastically reduces ) the amount of carbohydrates in ones diet. Typically this means under 50 grams (net) carbohydrates each day.

Our bodies rely on carbohydrates for glucose, which the body uses for energy. In the absence of this, the body will use ketones or stored fat. Your body essentially goes through a metabolic shift in which it goes from relying on carbohydrates for energy to instead being fat-fuelled. Once your body makes that metabolic shift (this can take up to 2 weeks), you are in ketosis. On a keto diet, 70-80% of your calories should come from fat.

What are the Benefits of going Keto?

Why would someone want to do the keto diet? There are actually a couple of main reasons why you might decide to try the ketogenic diet.

keto_scale

Weight Loss

Thinking of trying the keto diet to lose weight? The keto diet has been shown to be an effective tool for weight loss. On the keto diet, the body burns fat for fuel. This can include stored fat. It works well if you stick to the diet properly, and it’s relatively safe for most people.

Not only does it help with weight loss, but one study showed that those who lost weight on the keto diet also lowered their blood glucose levels. It is also thought that the satiating nature of a high fat diet also helps with weight loss as well.

keto_brain

Enhanced Brain Function

The keto diet may enhance brain function. One animal study showed that a ketogenic diet improved neurovascular function in mice. Given that the brain is made up of 60% fat, and that fat is an important component of the brain-vital myelin sheath, it’s no surprise that a high-fat diet could boost your brain health.

The keto diet may also be neuroprotective and improve cognitive performance. The studies are preliminary, but promising. This could translate to having less mental fatigue and better focus day-to-day.

The mechanisms behind why this happens is not yet fully understood. Because a high fat diet lowers insulin levels and regulates blood sugar levels, it’s common for individuals to report feeling as though they simply “think clearer”.

keto_stomach

Healthier Gut

The keto diet could be a way to improve your gut health. Mice who were put on the diet had healthier gut microbiome. After 3 weeks the mice showed a complete shift in their gut biome bacteria, both in number and in type. In general they has less diversity in bacteria, but they also had more healthy bacteria present in their gut as well.

 

What are the Side Effects of the Keto Diet?

There are a couple of things to take into consideration before you embark on the keto journey. As with any diet, there are benefits but there are also some downfalls.

keto_restriction

The Diet is Restrictive

This degree of restriction, in the long term, is difficult for most people. Although there are some great recipes for keto-friendly meals, you might have to give up some of your favourite foods. This includes high carbohydrate foods like potatoes, bananas, dates, oats, and more. For this reason, many people use it as a short-term weight loss strategy but don’t stick to it long term.

That being said, due to the restrictive nature of this diet, it also might not be suitable for some people with past eating disorder issues. If you have any concerns about this you should contact your personal health professional.

keto_quality

Quality Matters

One overlooked aspect of the keto diet is that quality really does matter. Because this diet relies heavily on protein (animal meat in the majority of cases) , the quality of that protein is important to focus on. High processed protein options like bacon and sandwich meats are not something to be relied on in the keto diet.

If you decide to go keto, keep in mind the quality of your fats and protein sources. Go for organic whenever possible. Opt for grass-fed beef if you can. Choose healthy fat sources like avocado, coconut oil, as well as good quality nuts and seeds. Don’t use this diet as an excuse to lower the quality of your food!

keto_flu

Keto Flu

The transition into ketosis can be tough. The process is often referred to as the “keto flu” because the symptoms can mimic the flu. Symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Dizzines
  • Irritability
  • Brain Fog
  • Muscle Pain
  • Difficulty Sleeping

The symptoms experienced really vary individually. Symptoms can be mild or severe and usually last between 7-14 days. Think of it as a “withdrawal” from carbohydrates – the body reacts in a sort of state of shock while going through the metabolic shift required to be in ketosis.

keto_food

The Takeaway

The keto diet can help with weight loss, cognitive function, and may also improve your gut health. However, it is also restrictive, can be expensive, and also might be difficult to transition into.

Is the keto diet healthy? For those with whom the pros outweigh the cons, then it might be something worth trying. It is safe for most people.

Tons of people swear by it, but the truth is that you might not really know how well it suits you until you try it for yourself.

Ready to take the next step? Be sure to read my article on How to go Keto – The Right Way for some helpful tips!

 

Sources:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2716748/
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-25190-5
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20204773
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2633336/

 

How to go Keto – The Right Way

Of all the diet ‘fads’ I’ve seen over the years, I’m not surprised to see that the ketogenic diet hasn’t faded away. This diet is still popular – either as a tool used in the short-term for weight loss, or for it’s more long-term for benefits such as better digestion, clearer thinking, and enhanced energy.

I’m not saying the ketogenic diet is for everyone, but there are a lot of people out there who love it. There is good reason to go keto; benefits include weightloss, greater mental clarity, balanced mood, and stable blood sugar levels. About two years ago, I went keto for six months. I loved the results. I felt awesome in terms of energy, and my mood was the most stable it’s ever been.

I didn’t stick to it, but don’t let that stop you from reading on about how to do keto right. I talk to a lot of people who have switched or are thinking of switching to the ketogenic diet. Many ask for my opinion, so here’s what I think.

What should you know going keto?

So many people, to the detriment of their own health, are doing it wrong. Getting into a state of ketogenesis is about more than just giving up carbohydrates. It’s actually not even really a diet in many ways. It’s actually a metabolic shift that forces your body to find an alternate source of fuel besides carbohydrates.

Going keto involves the process of forcing your body into a state of using fat as a fuel source. Side note: this is great for those who have some they want to lose, as this has now become a possible energy source for you. The mistake I see so many people making is that they don’t increase their dietary fat intake on the keto diet.

I can’t tell you the people I’ve spoken to who have given up carbs in an effort to better their health, only to be discouraged when they feel fatigued and low energy. If you go about keto wrong, you will feel terrible. So the first question I always ask clients when they bring up keto is what kind of dietary fat sources they would plan on incorporating. Many are surprisingly unaware of the importance of this aspect of the keto diet.

Are all fats created equal?

But knowing that increasing fats is only half the battle – it is also important to know what kinds of fats are best to implement. For example, bacon is high in fat – and many on the keto diet enjoy it. However, this wouldn’t be an ideal fat source to fuel your body day-to-day. Ideal fat sources are healthy, nutrient dense, and high omega 3 fatty acid fats. A few ideal ones that can be implemented daily would be avocado, coconut oil, walnut/almond oil, nuts and seeds, and grass fed butter.

 

Extra virgin olive oil is excellent for cooking with, and so is coconut oil, as both are stable at high temperatures. Nuts and seeds are easy to add on to any meal. Avocado can be made into guacamole or blended into smoothies. Adding grass fed butter or ghee on vegetables is another way to increase fat while on the keto diet.

My two cents is simply this: if you decrease your carbohydrates and you don’t increase fats, your body will struggle to find a source of energy. You will be fatigued, lacking energy, and could even possibly end up muscle wasting as the body relies on protein to meet it’s energy needs.

Don’t be afraid to utilize the tools available to you when making a serious lifestyle change, especially one that can effect your functioning so profoundly. Reach out to a Holistic Nutrition Consultant or talk to an expert in the field. You can even utilize Youtube videos and online articles. The information is all there, and I encourage you to take advantage of it.

That’s my two cents on keto, and how to do it the right way. Are you curious about the pros and cons of the keto diet? Check out this post: Is the Keto Diet Healthy?