First of all, I would like to say that I have not personally tried the Ketogenic Diet. However, since Keto is currently the hottest diet around, I decided to do my own research on the subject.
I named this post "Ketogenic Diet Pros and Cons," because I believe that there are pros and cons to every diet, including this one.
I talked to friends who have been on this diet, including my friend, Cheryl. Cheryl has successfully followed the keto lifestyle for two years now.
I also did a lot of reading on the subject. In this post, I will be sharing my unbiased conclusion. But a word of caution first:
*Before trying any diet, be sure to consult your physician to determine whether the diet is right for you.
Keto Diet in a Nutshell
The ketogenic diet is a way of eating in which you consume high fat, low carb, and a moderate amount of protein. As a result, your body reaches a state of ketosis.
Once in ketosis, the body begins to use stored fat for energy, instead of carbs or sugars.
Keto Macro Break Down
When following a Keto diet, your food intake should come from the following macros:
- 75-80% Fat
- 15-20% Protein
- 5% Carbohydrates
That's not a typo; 80% fat, crazy, right? Continue reading to find out about the Ketogenic Diet Pros and Cons...
Ketogenic Diet Pros and Cons
Ketogenic Diet Pros:
- Quick weight loss: If you follow this diet, there's no reason why you won't experience weight loss. Although the first thing you lose is water weight (3-5 lbs on average).
- Muscle Retention: Resting metabolic weight stays the same on the Keto diet because you retain muscle while losing fat.
- Fat Adaptation: This means that your body learns to use fat as energy, instead of carbs.
- Resets Insulin Sensitivity: This allows your body to metabolize glucose more effectively.
- Other Medical Benefits: The Keto diet was originally developed for individuals suffering from epilepsy and is also helpful for diabetics, and those diagnosed with Parkinson's.
Ketogenic Diet Cons:
- Keto Flu: Similar to the regular flu, the first few weeks on the keto diet leaves you feeling run down, lethargic, and prone to headaches. One way to reduce these symptoms is to salt your water. This is a great way to replenish the electrolytes that your body needs to function properly.
- Reduced Athletic Performance and Endurance: Both athletic performance and endurance are negatively impacted by the keto diet. Carbs and sugars are needed for sustained energy. For that reason, Keto is generally not recommended for high-performance athletes.
- Constipation: Removing grains and fruits from your diet results in a reduction of fiber intake. As a result, constipation is a common problem with those who follow this diet. This problem, however, can be remedied by drinking more water and eating more fiber (in the form of vegetables).
- Adherence: Sticking to a restrictive diet for long periods of time can be difficult to maintain. This is especially true when one entire macro group is practically eliminated.
What Keto is Not
- A Low-Carb Diet: In most low-carb diets you're still eating enough carbs to prevent your body from reaching ketosis. One exception being the Atkins Diet. But with the Atkins diet, you consume way more protein than you do on the Keto diet.
- A Free Pass to Eat Mass Quantities of Protein: In fact, eating too much protein can throw you out of ketosis. Believe it or not, the body can convert the extra protein into carbohydrates.
- Diabetic Ketoacidosis: While Ketosis is desirable, and a necessary part of the Ketogenic Diet, Diabetic Ketoacidosis is a diabetic condition that develops when your body can't produce enough insulin. It has nothing to do with the Keto diet.
Common Ketogenic Diet Mistakes
- Not Tracking Macros: If you're guessing at how much you are consuming without actually tracking your macros, you could be consuming more carbs than you think. Apps like "My Plate" can be very helpful.
- Not Measuring Ketones: Ketones can be measured using several methods. Ketone strips can be used to check your urine for acetoacetate. There is also a breath test, but the machine is pretty expensive, and the results can vary depending on how hard or light you blow into the machine. Finally, there is a blood test, with a machine similar to the ones used to check sugar levels in diabetics. This is the most accurate way to check to see if you are in ketosis. To check your ketone level using this method, you'll need a Keto-Mojo Blood Ketone And Glucose Testing Kit.
- Not Eating Enough Fat: While on the Keto diet, you'll need to consume a lot of fat! The best quality fats to consume include the following: avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, ghee, nuts and seeds, olives, and salmon. Avoid bad oils like canola oil, vegetable oil, and I'm sorry to say bacon.
- Not Drinking Enough Water: Because your body is not getting enough water due to the reduced intake of carbs, you need to make sure you are getting at least 8 glasses of water a day.
- Eating Too Much Protein: This will increase your actual calorie intake and may throw you off of ketosis.
- Eating Too Many Carbs: Remember carbs should only be 5% of your caloric intake. Fruit options should consist of blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries. Your vegetable intake should come from vegetables that grow above ground.
What is the difference between a carb and a net carb?
When following a keto diet, you need to keep track of net carbs instead of total carbs. You will need to consume no more than 20 net carbs a day while on Keto.
In order to figure out how many net carbs are in a certain food, you have to subtract the fiber grams from the total carb grams. For example, if a food has 10 grams of total carbs and 6 grams of fiber, the net carbs would be 4.
This encourages you to eat food with more fiber since, in a way, the fiber cancels out some of the carbs.
Complete Keto Food List (PDF Download)
If reading this Ketogenic Diet Pros and Cons post has piqued your interest, and you want to know more about what you can eat on this diet, check out my downloadable Keto shopping list.
I hope you've found this Ketogenic Diet Pros and Cons post helpful. This is the third post in a monthly nutrition series that I started earlier this year.
Now show me some love by leaving a comment and letting me know how I'm doing, or what you'd like me to write about in a future post.