So, what if I told you that you can eat all the butter, cheese, eggs, meat you want and still be able to manage your high energy levels, prevent cravings and lose weight?!
Well, the ketogenic diet offers all of this to you.
You may be thinking I am currently following a Paleo lifestyle so that won’t appeal to me, but read on as I guide you through the can’s and cant’s of a keto diet and also how to weave the benefits of this way of eating into your life.
The ketogenic diet is essentially a high fat, low-carbohydrate diet that (gently) forces your body to burn off that stubborn fat rather than its carbohydrates.
Usually our body burns the carbohydrates in our diet and uses them as a source of energy and fuel by converting them into glucose. However, the Keto Diet restricts the consumption of carbohydrates, leaving the liver to covert the high fat intake into fatty acids and ketone bodies. In which case, the body very much uses the ketone bodies as a replacement for glucose as its primary energy source.
Still with me?! Well, in summary the Keto Diet encourages an elevated level of ketone bodies in your bloodstream; this state is known as Ketosis. Ketosis is a metabolic state in which your body uses the fat it consumes instead of glucose from carbohydrates as its main source of energy. To achieve ketosis, you stop supplying your body with carbs and sugar allowing your body to burn fat instead!
To help orientate you a little, it is reported that Halle Berry, Kourtney Kardashian, Kim Kardashian, Gwyneth Paltrow among others use the Keto Diet to maintain their lifestyles in the spotlight. But before you tar the Keto Diet with that ‘fad/celebrity’ brush there are also mainstream athletes benefiting from the Keto Diet too. NBA megastar Lebron James and La Rocehelle international rugby player Paul Jordaan display very impressive physiques as a result of Keto led diets, according to their social media!
The Keto Pros
Ok, let’s get down to the real day to day stuff you want to know! Is Keto good or bad for me? Well as individuals we are all different, different goals, different drives, intolerances, body fat percentages, hobbies, interests and so forth. So read our pros and cons to determine whether this lifestyle is for you.
- Keto most certainly supports the process of weight loss. The state of ketosis that your body finds itself in is very much a fat burning mode. The metabolic rate of burning fat causes you to see significate weight loss results. Furthermore, this way of eating suppresses your appetite. One of the key side effects of the Keto Diet is that you can say ‘taaraa’ to your hunger pangs! There is such a high amount of fat expected to be inhaled during the Keto diet that this reduces your carbohydrate cravings and provides you with enough energy for hours on end. You may as well throw out the cookie jar now!
- The Keto Diet also focuses on lowering your cholesterol. Studies show the keto diet can improve “good” cholesterol and lower “bad” cholesterol. Eating fat increases blood levels of good cholesterol, which in turn lower your risk of heart disease. Delving to into this further, by reducing your carbohydrate intake you can lower blood triglycerides, which are fat molecules in the blood. High levels of blood triglycerides can put you at higher risk for heart disease.
- Your brain gets the benefit from a Keto diet too. The Keto diet has been used for many years as a treatment method for epilepsy in children. This treatment and its consequential research have been making breakthroughs with potential beneficial impacts on other neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Together with these breakthroughs, it is found that the Keto diet improves your mood, concentration and sleep. As a result of following the ‘cutting carb’ regime it has been noted that Keto dieters feel more alert, sleep better and longer with more periods of concentration. Ever felt sluggish or needing a sleep after a heavy carb meal from the takeaway?! Well this is due to the insulin spike a result of this consumption. Eating a high-fat diet via ketogenic methods encourages more steady energy production and helps you avoid physical and mental crashes that are associated with eating a high-carb diet.
This does all sound very well and good, so why are we not all following it?! As I said earlier we are all individuals and have our right to make our own dietary decisions. But before you make yours, do read on to get a feel for the opposing side of the Keto Diet.
The Keto Cons
Basically, the Keto diet is hard work! It’s very restrictive and you have to be on point with every meal to make sure your carbohydrates are low, your fats are high and your protein is adequate.
- Allowing your body to adapt to the Keto way can take weeks, and this transition period can be very uncomfortable. All of sudden your reducing carbs and sugar as your usual source of energy, and now forcing your body into a ketosis state to find energy from elsewhere. The “Keto Flu” is commonly used to describe flu-like symptoms associated with the transition process. You may recognize these as headaches, fatigue, nausea and so forth.
- Talking of adapting, this doesn’t just go for what you eat at home. The Keto diet can make social gatherings and choices of food difficult ‘on the outside’ too. Attending your Nana’s birthday party, your second cousins wedding, an evening at a restaurant and many other social events will require so much more self-discipline, planning and research in to your food choices.
- Over this transition period you may find a more ‘irregular’ pattern to your body. The act of dramatically increasing your fat intake while drastically cutting your carb intake may cause gastrointestinal issues, ranging from constipation to diarrhoea. Although this is something that usually resolves itself when your body becomes more adapted.
- As mentioned earlier the Keto diet is restrictive, but not in the way we may be used to in other diets. I mean the Keto diet bans or limits certain whole food groups! The Keto diet requires you to give up all forms of sugar and popular carbs such as bread, rice, and pasta, and this certainly isn’t for everyone. I can see you now imagining a life without those food groups, difficult isn’t it!? If that wasn’t enough Keto also limits most fruits due to the fructose content, as well as starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes and carrots.
Furthermore, the diet can end up being ‘meat heavy’.
However, most people see their cholesterol drop along with their weight, and this may be the ultimate goal for some. However, others who are genetically predisposed may actually increase their cholesterol levels which further suggests that this diet isn’t for everyone.