The keto diet is a hot item right now. I have no doubt at least one of your friends or family members are on it right now and just like your CrosssFit buddies, they won’t shut up about it. The popularity has snow balled because of its undeniable affect on weight loss. It will definitely shred the fat but is the keto diet good for you?
Lets dig in and find out what the pros and cons of the new cool diet.
What Is Ketosis?
The purpose of the keto diet is to put the body into Ketosis; a metabolic state causing the body to produce and use ketones for energy. In other words, you will burn fat instead of sugar. You achieve this state by eating a specific diet low in carbohydrates and high in fat. Eliminating nearly all carbohydrates from your diet will result in the depletion of glycogen. Glycogen is like a warehouse for glucose, which is the body’s main source of energy. Once these stores have been raided, the body goes in search of alternative fuel sources. It just so happens we have extra fuel close by in the form of fat. The breakdown of fat produces ketones and voila we have a brand new power source.
Eating a diet high in fat seems counter intuitive. We have been programmed to believe fat is bad. The truth is, fat is bad for you only when you are consuming too many calories on a diet that is also high in carbohydrates. It goes without saying, your food choices are important too.
Is It Safe?
I personally thought the keto diet was a terrible idea as it went against everything I was taught in school. New paradigms are hard to shift. I became interested in learning about it years later after seeing people not only lose weight but improve every biomarker imaginable, from blood pressure to resting heart rate.
Ketosis is nothing new. No one invented it. It is a natural state of the body. There will likely be side effects in the beginning as your body transitions from glucose to ketones but these will subside in a few weeks if you can hang in that long.
I’ve had clients drop over 50 pounds in 3 months on the keto diet. That’s a little speedier than I recommend but its just easy to do once the fat burning process begins.
Shredding body fat is the least of the benefits.
First it regulates your blood sugar and insulin. Insulin is the hormone that keeps fat on our bodies. When insulin spikes, you will store fat rather than burn it. Regulation keeps everything in check, from appetite to energy swings. Maintaining the hormonal balance improves mental focus once you are acclimated to ketosis.
Ketogenic diets may reduce the risk of cancer. Cancer cells are thought to feed off of sugar. Depriving them of their sugar can stop the growth of cancerous cells.
The biggest drawback for me is the scientific fact, Carbs are tasty!!! You will have to accept the sacrifice. Life without beer, chocolate, or bread is a tough adjustment.
There will likely be several side effects as ketosis kicks in but these will go away over time.
- You can count on being very tired the first few weeks.
- Your brain will be foggy.
- You will be hungry
- You will crave carbs like an addict going through detox.
- Your physical performance will fall off. Keep exercise light during this transition phase. No worries, you’ll get it back.
- Your digestive system may get out of wack
- You may experience dehydration. Glucose stores water. The majority of your weight loss in the first few weeks may be water simply because your body will not be retaining as much.
How To Safely Implement The Diet
- Start with a low carb diet to ease into it and test the waters. Do not attempt full keto off the bat
- Have a plan to follow instead of winging it.
- Drink a lot water
- Eat fibrous vegetables
- Scale your workouts back for a few weeks
- Regular check ups with your doctor
- Make sure you are getting enough sodium
- Test your ketone levels
While there’s no denying the benefits, you have to decide if its worth it or not. Achieving ketosis is simple but it is far from easy. It’s a commitment. You have to endure a rough couple of weeks before your body acclimates. It takes 1 to 6 weeks depending on how long you have been running on sugar. Most people will give up in the first week.
If you are seriously going to follow a ketogenic diet, another drawback is you will likely have to buy a lot of new clothes!
Test Your Ketone Levels
This is easy to do and fairly inexpensive
You will want an accurate method of testing. The blood monitoring is the best route to go. Testing for ketone levels in your blood is more accurate than urine tests. It will tell you what you need to know in a few seconds.
You can us urine strips if you want. This is the most common form of checking ketones but they are far less accurate. The strips will indicate if your body is producing more ketones than you are burning but not an accurate sign of being in ketosis.
Follow a good plan. This is new to you and the body. Following a plan will help ensure success. Here is the best plan on the market.
Test your keto levels often.
See your doctor for a physical before you begin. Do a checkup every month for 3 months.
Take measurements and before and after pictures! You will not regret it.
If you are going to test this diet out, do it right. Follow the tips I provided closely. See your doctor, get on a plan and test your levels regularly.
I hope you found this article helpful. Please reach out if you have any questions on this subject. I am happy to help out anyway I can!