Ketogenic Diet – A Guide to Its Pros and Cons

Ketogenic Diet – A Guide to Its Pros and Cons

The ketogenic or keto diet is a plan that focuses on low carbs and high-fat foods. It leads to weight loss, as such a regimen puts your body in a state of ketosis and makes it burn fat to use as energy. The ketogenic diet, if done correctly, provides symptomatic relief from Alzheimer’s and improves overall well-being. While keto is widely known for its quick results in weight loss, it is necessary to understand whether or not it is a good plan for you. It is always a good idea to do your research and compile a list of pros and cons before beginning a new diet plan. 

Ketogenic Diet: An Introduction

A ketogenic diet focuses on substantially lowering carbohydrate consumption and substituting that with a higher fat intake. The resultant reduction in the number of carbohydrates leads to a metabolic condition known as ketosis. After this, the body starts to burn fat to release energy effectively. It leads to the conversion of fats into ketones in the liver. The converted ketones provide energy to the brain. 

Ketosis happens due to drastic restrictions on carbohydrate intake and a decrease in the availability of glucose (sugar), the primary energy source for the cells. The most effective strategy to induce ketosis is to eat a ketogenic diet. It involves limiting carb consumption to 20 to 50 grams daily and consuming fat-rich foods like meat, fish, nuts, and healthy oils. Additionally, it is crucial to keep your protein intake in check.

As per studies, excessive protein consumption will be turned into glucose, slowing down the ketosis process. Therefore, intermittent fasting can additionally help you reach ketosis more quickly. In addition, studies suggest that blood, urine, and breath tests can let you identify if you’ve hit ketosis by measuring the number of ketones generated by the body. Increased thirst, dry mouth, frequent urination, and lower appetite are some of the signs of ketosis.

The HealthifyMe Note

The dietary macronutrients in a keto diet include 55% to 60% fat, 30% to 35% protein, and 5% to 10% carbohydrates. Specifically, in a 2000-calorie diet, carbohydrates amount to 20 to 50 g per day.

Pros of Ketogenic Diet

Weight Loss

According to a study, the chances are that the ketogenic diet is more beneficial than a low-fat diet for weight reduction. The low carb and high fat structure of a ketogenic diet cause the body’s metabolism to modify.

When carbs get retained, the body loses water, resulting in a temporary reduction in overall body weight. In addition, ketogenic diets result in higher protein consumption, which offers several weight-loss advantages. The body converts protein and fat into carbs for energy. With this method, you can burn a lot of calories every day.

Increases Satiety

Multiple studies indicate that the keto diet helps people lose weight by increasing satiety or feeling full. Fat is a macronutrient that takes some time to get digested, which is why keto dieters commonly feel full. On adopting a ketogenic diet, people cut all processed carbohydrates and sweets from the diet.

It results in the body using ketones for energy release instead of carbs. As a result, it stabilises the blood sugar level, and people feel full for longer. Adiponectin is a hormone responsible for glucose regulation.

As per research, while you are on a ketogenic diet, the amount of this hormone lowers considerably, decreasing your hunger.

The keto diet’s method of increasing foods rich in fat can help eliminate cravings and feelings of hunger. However, a high-carb diet promotes better performance and energy, especially among athletes.

Improved Brain Function

The brain has certain regions that are only capable of burning glucose. It, therefore, requires a regular glucose supply. On not consuming enough carbohydrates, the liver creates glucose using protein.

However, a significant part of the brain can burn ketones produced during fasting or when glucose intake is minimal. Studies suggest that this mechanism helps cure epilepsy among children who have failed to respond to medication for years.

Eating a low-carb and high-fat diet can improve the feelings of anxiousness and brain focus issues. In addition, the neuroprotective benefits of ketones help strengthen and protect the brain nerve cells.

Retain Muscles

As per studies, athletes respond to ketogenic diets and burn fat more effectively. Compared to their high-carb, low-fat equivalents, muscle glycogen levels and tissue regeneration are comparable in keto athletes to those who consume a regular higher-carb diet.

Many endurance athletes gain from the improved fat oxidation and speed of glycogen restoration. In addition, Keto diets and resistance training can help athletes retain muscle mass while burning fat.

Healthy for Diabetics and Pre Diabetics

A diabetic patient either lacks insulin or has inefficient insulin, making it harder for the body to utilise carbs, which raises blood sugar levels adequately. The ketogenic diet can help in lowering blood sugar levels.

People with type 2 diabetes should limit their carbohydrate consumption since carbs convert to sugar and, in high amounts, can cause a blood sugar spike. An increase in blood sugar can occur when a person has a high-carb diet, especially if they have pre-diabetes. The keto diet’s basic principle is to minimise carbohydrate consumption to curb the sudden rise in blood glucose.

The HealthifyMe Note

Eating too many refined carbs can adversely affect skin health by altering the balance of gut bacteria. The ketogenic diet helps people with acne problems due to fewer refined carbohydrates.

Cons of Ketogenic Diet

Nutrient Deficiency

According to research, a keto diet requires removing or restricting food items rich in nutrients. Grain, starchy vegetables, legumes, lentils, fruits, vegetables, and dairy products are all restricted on keto diets. Vital nutrients, minerals, antioxidants, and dietary fibre are abundant in these foods avoided by keto. 

A keto diet results in a deficiency of nutrients like magnesium, iron, calcium and potassium. Taking a multivitamin supplement is one approach to preventing micronutrient deficits. However, supplements lack the fibre in whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. 

Keto Flu

As per studies, keto flu occurs within the first week of starting a keto diet. It refers to a bunch of keto-related side effects. Most people experience weakness, constipation, headaches, and nausea, conditions caused due to a sudden change in dietary habits. Slight lifestyle changes can resolve it.

Once on a keto diet, it is essential to drink more water. Extra sugar in the body, along with water, is stored in the glycogen cells of the body. In a state of ketosis, this water gets eliminated from these cells, potentially causing dehydration. This water loss also means a loss of electrolytes. Therefore, it is equally essential to maintain high levels of electrolytes in the body during a keto diet.

Causes Constipation

Carbohydrates, lipids, and protein are the three macronutrients for the body to absorb. Although consuming excess carbs isn’t suggested while attempting to lose weight, drastically reducing your carb consumption too fast irritates your gastrointestinal system. After starting a keto diet, the body adjusts to digesting high-fat food items instead of high-carb foods. 

Difficult to Sustain

Food restrictions in a keto diet mean that it is difficult to sustain. A keto diet is very effective in losing weight in a short period. However, since a keto diet is difficult to maintain, people often switch their diets, leading to increased side effects. People who actively track their calories are more likely to maintain a state of ketosis. 

Risk of Heart Disease

The high-fat content of the keto diet, which is inherent to it, can negatively impact heart health. In addition, blood fat levels increase in the first two months of individuals following a keto diet.

If left untreated and uncontrolled, this can lead to the build-up of fats in the blood vessels, eventually clogging arteries and increasing the chances of a heart attack.

Disordered Eating

The risk of disordered eating patterns is common for keto dieters. In addition, the restrictive nature of the keto diet can interfere with the joy of eating, making it extreme and challenging. 

The HealthifyMe Note

Many people probably don’t participate in intense exercises. For example, working-class people spend their time sitting at a desk in front of a computer. In this case, the body doesn’t need as many carbs and could function on a keto diet.

Other Possible Side Effects

The ketogenic diet is generally safe for most people. However, side effects can occur as the body adjusts to the new diet regime. The keto flu is one of these side effects and often only lasts a few days. The keto flu can include vomiting, diarrhoea, and constipation.

One potential threat of the ketogenic diet is dehydration. So it’s essential to drink lots of fluids, especially water. Before beginning a ketogenic diet, see your doctor to determine if a keto diet is safe and appropriate.

A ketogenic diet can be challenging to maintain. It may not be the best choice for serious muscle mass gainers or professional athletes. In addition, considering the importance of meats, eggs, and fish in this diet, vegetarians and vegans can suffer.

Many people don’t realise that the body requires some sugar to function properly. If you eliminate carbs, glucose cannot enter the bloodstream, causing you to feel low on energy with an inability to focus. 

Conclusion

The significant health advantages of low-carb and ketogenic diets are well-researched and established worldwide. Consumption of high-fat foods and limited carb consumption to less than 30–50 grams per day is necessary for a ketogenic diet. A ketogenic diet can aid weight loss and improve overall health when followed under medical supervision. Before beginning any new diet plan, check with your doctor to see if it’s right for you.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Is keto healthy?

A: Ketogenic diets are healthy and beneficial for health in multiple ways. However, it still carries a few problems. Low blood pressure, kidney stones, constipation, and nutritional shortages arise due to keto diets. Strict diets like keto can lead to an upset eating regime. Keto is unsuitable for anyone with problems with their pancreas, liver, thyroid, or gallbladder.

Q: Do doctors recommend keto?

A: Few doctors prescribe the diet to control obesity and manage pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes as it helps reduce the quantity of blood sugar. However, few doctors feel that a ketogenic diet results in people skipping healthy and nutritious food, which is detrimental to health in the long term. 

Q: How long should you stay on a keto diet?

A: It depends on how a person’s body responds to the diet. Generally, it takes around 28 days to start noticing changes in the body. Usually, it’s a good idea to continue for six months to reap its maximum benefits

Q: Does keto make you smell?

A: This is a somewhat typical side effect of a ketogenic diet. Ketone levels that are too high trigger this. Acetone, a ketone that leaves the body through urine and breath, is the reason for the bad smell. Although this smell isn’t great for social situations, it might be a good indicator of the success of your diet.

Q: Can I drink alcohol on keto?

A: Pure alcoholic beverages such as whiskey, gin, tequila, rum, and vodka are carb-free. These drinks can be consumed alone or with low-carb mixers for added flavour. Wine and light beer are likewise low in carbohydrates, with 3–4 grammes per serving.

Q: Is keto better than a regular diet?

A: Ketogenic diets can lead to weight loss by suppressing your appetite and increasing your calorie burn. In practice, however, they do not outperform other diets over time. In the short run, however, they effectively reduce overall body weight. Moreover, there are different risks associated with the keto diet, which makes it not a full-proof diet option. 

Q: What are the long-term effects of the keto diet?

A: When a person does not acquire adequate nutrients, the keto diet can raise their chance of having vitamin or mineral deficiencies over time. If they consume excess saturated fat, they are prone to diseases like heart disease. People with certain chronic illnesses should not follow the keto diet.

Q: What do cardiologists think of the keto diet?

A: There are differing views among cardiologists regarding the keto diet. Some claim it helps people with diabetes control their blood sugar and reduces cardiovascular risk factors, including obesity. However, others have seen an increase in “bad” cholesterol, cardiac issues, and hypoglycemia.

Q: Why is everyone obsessed with keto?

A: By inducing a state of ketosis, a keto diet puts our body in a position where it uses fats as the primary energy source. It, in turn, means that our body burns fat, and consequently, a person starts to lose weight. A keto diet means that a person loses weight and gets in shape faster than conventional diet plans. Fast weight loss supports better control over chronic conditions like kidney problems, PCOS, diabetes, etc., enabling a healthier lifestyle for individuals who practice a keto diet.

Q: What is the main thing about the keto diet?

A: A keto diet is a food plan that prioritises foods high in healthy fats, mild in protein, and low in carbs. The keto diet only works by limiting the body’s sugar intake. The goal is to take more calories from fat and protein than carbohydrates.

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