The Pros and Cons of the Keto Diet

The Pros and Cons of the Keto Diet

The ketogenic diet, also known as the keto diet, has been around for a long time, even though it seems popular recently. It was first used as a seizure treatment in kids with epilepsy over 100 years ago. The idea behind the diet is to eat lots of fat and very few carbs to keep blood sugar levels stable. The typical breakdown of food on the keto diet is about 70% fat, 15-20% protein, and 5-10% carbs, which means eating less than 50 grams of carbs per day.


The central concept of the keto diet is that when you eat fewer carbs, your body changes how it gets energy. Typically, your body uses glucose (a type of sugar) as its primary energy source. But with the keto diet, when you cut down on carbs, your body uses fat as its energy source. This includes the fat you eat and the fat stored in your body. The fat gets broken down into molecules called ketone bodies, which your body uses for energy. When your body uses ketone bodies for energy, it's called being in a "ketogenic" state. Your liver produces ketone bodies when it breaks down fat for energy.


The results of following a keto diet, like weight loss, can vary depending on how many carbs you cut out, the amount of protein you eat, and the type of fat you consume (animal or plant-based). Different diets similar to keto, such as the Atkins diet, Zone diet, South Beach Diet, and Paleo diet, have gone in and out of popularity over the years. They all promote a state of ketosis to burn fat for weight loss. Recently, scientific studies have shown that the keto diet can be beneficial for treating certain conditions like Alzheimer's disease, autism spectrum disorder, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.


Now, let's look at the keto diet's advantages and disadvantages.

Pros of the Keto Diet

One advantage of the keto diet is that it can positively affect your appetite and metabolism. Some studies have found that keto can make you feel less hungry and help your body break down fats more effectively. This means your body becomes better at burning calories, known as the thermic effect. The keto diet can also help reduce hunger while eating fewer calories. Another benefit is that the keto lifestyle encourages you to avoid processed foods, which can contribute to weight gain and other health problems.

Eliminating Sugary Foods and Beverages

Another advantage of the keto diet is that it helps avoid sugary foods and drinks. This can be helpful for weight loss and keeping a healthy weight. It also lowers the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer. However, it's essential to be careful with using artificial sweeteners as a substitute for sugar. Some studies have shown that regularly consuming artificial sweeteners can adversely affect the bacteria in your gut, which can impact your overall gut health. Not all sugar substitutes are the same, though. Stevia, which comes from a plant, is a non-nutritive sweetener shown to lower insulin and glucose levels. It can also make you feel full despite having a few calories. However, more research is needed to understand how stevia affects the gut bacteria.

How Keto Affects Inflammation in the Body

One debated aspect of the keto diet is its impact on inflammation. On one side, the keto diet has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects because it helps with fat loss and reduces insulin levels. Since high levels of body fat and insulin can promote inflammation, it makes sense that a diet that reduces body fat and improves insulin sensitivity would also decrease inflammation, which can benefit cardiovascular health. Studies have indicated that a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet can improve cardiovascular risk factors compared to a low-fat diet with a higher carbohydrate intake.


On the other hand, some studies have found that consuming a high-fat meal can increase inflammation and trigger an inflammatory response in individuals with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes. However, research suggests exercising after a high-fat meal can help counteract the inflammatory response and control blood sugar. Why does this happen? Exercise helps muscles use glucose more efficiently for energy and increases insulin sensitivity, which can reduce inflammation in the body. It's important to note that more research is needed to understand if the benefits of the keto diet decrease over time and to evaluate its long-term effects on cardiovascular health.

Cons of the Keto Diet

One disadvantage of the keto diet is that it can decrease the variety of beneficial bacteria in your gut due to the exclusion of fibre-rich whole grains and starchy vegetables. This could have an impact on your immune health. Moreover, it can be challenging to maintain a diet that is extremely low in carbohydrates over a long period. Additionally, when following a keto diet, it's common for people to rely on highly processed foods that are packed with additives and artificial sweeteners, including sugar alcohols like xylitol, maltitol, and sorbitol. These processed foods lack essential nutrients and may become convenient for those following a keto diet, especially on the go.

Starvation Ketosis

Following a low-carb diet requires consistent effort to maintain "nutritional ketosis." If not done correctly, it can result in a condition called "starvation ketosis." This occurs when carbohydrate and protein intake is extremely low, causing excessive production of ketones. This can lead to muscle loss and severe deficiencies in essential electrolytes, vitamins, and minerals, which can be life-threatening. Additionally, straying from the strict eating plan of a low-carb diet may result in weight gain and adversely affect mental well-being. Feelings of shame and guilt may arise, potentially leading to disordered eating behaviours.

Potential Side Effects

The keto diet has several potential side effects that should be considered. During the initial phase of reducing carbohydrate intake, which can take anywhere from 3 to 10 days, some people may experience unpleasant breath, headaches, nausea, fatigue, flu-like symptoms, and constipation. In the long term, there can be other consequences, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), high uric acid (a waste product from high-protein foods), electrolyte imbalances, and high levels of lipids in the blood.


In summary, the keto diet has both advantages and disadvantages, and it is essential to have proper supervision and support while following it. The scientific community agrees that more evidence is needed to understand its effectiveness and safety fully. If you want to try a keto diet, working with a team of registered dietitians and physicians specialising in this approach is best. They can provide personalised guidance on the right balance of macronutrients for your needs, ensuring that you promote good health rather than risk harm.

How Weight Loss Coach Can Help You with a Keto Diet

Weight Loss Coach offers a modified ketogenic diet that incorporates healthy carbohydrates into your diet. These carbohydrates come from whole vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, peas, and lentils. These foods provide essential fibre, vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds that support your weight loss journey and overall well-being. At Weight Loss Coach, every patient receives personalised guidance from a registered dietitian and weight loss doctor. They work together to create a customised plan that aligns with your health goals and helps you achieve desired results.


Write a Comment