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Keto – the pros and cons

The term Keto has been thrown around in health and diet circles for some time.  There are many who swear by the high fat and low carb intake diet, and there are those who are dead set against it. We’ve put together some pros and cons of a keto diet. 

The aim of following a keto diet is to get your body to burn fat instead of carbs. A body that burns stored fat for energy is said to be in a state of ketosis. This is a natural process your body reverts to when it does not have enough glucose to use as energy. The body begins to break down fat and create ketones as an energy source.

A keto diet limits the amount and type of food taken in during the day. If you’re following a keto diet, the ideal is to consume 70 to 80 per cent fats, 15 per cent protein and only five per cent carbohydrates in a day.  Your diet consists mainly of low-to-no-carb foods including fish, veggies, cheese, meat, eggs and yogurt – the unsweetened full or double cream kind.  You will stay away from fruits, grains (breads) and all sugar products – something that will take some getting used to if you’re switching from a normal eating routine.

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The Pros

#1 Ditch the sugar

Cutting your sugar intake on a keto diet can only be of benefit to your health. Sugar’s negative health risks are well known and strictly limiting sugar in your diet will make your healthier as a result.

#2 Weight loss

Many people who start out on the keto diet will notice weight loss. The body will initially go through some metabolic changes that contribute to a healthier you. The cutting of carbs and sugar-laden foods will help with weight loss.  It’s worthwhile to note that carbs and sugar also contribute to water retention in the body, so cutting them out will result in a drop in water weight. A keto diet will help balance sugar levels and by taking in more fat you will feel fuller for longer and this helps speed up the digestion processes.

#3 Lowers insulin levels

Many keto followers who suffer from insulin resistance, high blood pressure, and elevated cholesterol and triglycerides also report an improvement in these parameters while following the high fat low carb diet.

#4 Type 2 diabetes

Restricting your carb intake can have a direct impact on glucose concentrations, lowering them over time. It may be a straight forward way to get diabetes under control.  It is important to consult a registered dietician before utilizing this strategy, as a general healthy diet and carb control can produce the same results.

#5 Cancer

There is growing research for the ketogenic diet.  Some research has established that tumour cells can break down glucose faster compared to typical cells. The theory behind the research is that by “starving” tumour cells of glucose, you can hamper their growth and help prevent cancer.

The Cons

#1 Uric acid build up

Like many diets, a long-term keto diet can also have negative side effects.  Some medical reviews warn that there is a possibility of increased risks of kidney stones and osteoporosis and increased levels of uric acid.

#2 Nutrient Deficiencies

Excluding whole food groups like grains and fruit which are restricted in the keto diet can lead to deficiencies.  Nutritionists agree that it is vital to include a wide variety of foods while eating such high amounts of fat.  Focus on meats, seafood, vegetables, some legumes and fruits to make sure you are getting fibre, B vitamins, and minerals such as iron, magnesium, and zinc. Once again, it is advisable to consult with registered dietician to avoid the possibilities of any deficiencies.

#3 Uncomfortable side effects

Many people who start on the keto diet will report transitional side effects that range from hunger, headaches, fatigue, constipation to  nausea, irritability, constipation and brain fog.

#4  Easier said than done

It’s never easy switching your diet and the keto diet is no different. The breakdown of fat, protein and carb intakes are very specific and it can prove challenging for the average person to plan for and follow.

#5 No guarantees

Despite documented results, not everyone who follows the keto diet has amazing results.  This might be because people find keeping to the diet’s regimented requirements difficult to follow and they become dissatisfied with the limited food options. Not many individuals feel they can commit to the keto diet for the long-term, as a result few actually obtain the weight loss they expected.

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