If you’re someone who is looking for a new diet to try, you may be considering a ketogenic diet plan. Very popular right now amongst the mainstream media, it can feel like everyone is following the keto plan.
What is the ketogenic diet and will it serve to benefit you? Let’s go over a few things that you must know.
What Is The Ketogenic Diet?
The ketogenic diet plan is a diet that has you taking your carbohydrate intake exceptionally low so that it’s only making up 5% of your total calories. For most people, this won’t a lot to much more than about 20 grams per day. This is going to be so low that even vegetable calories will count.
The diet is very high fat in nature as you’ll consume 65% of your total daily intake from dietary fats. The remaining 30% of your calories will come from protein source, ensuring you satisfy your daily amino acid requirement.
By following this macronutrient breakdown, you’ll move into a state called ketosis, where your body is running off an alternative source of fuel than glucose, ketones.
Pros Of The Ketogenic Diet
Now that you know what the ketogenic diet is, what are the pros that it has to offer?
First, hunger control. Those who successfully follow the ketogenic diet often state that they simply don’t get hungry like they used to when on a more mixed diet plan. This is because their blood glucose levels are kept very stable so they don’t get those highs and lows, which can lead to ongoing hunger. The better managed your hunger is, generally speaking, the easier it is to sustain a reduced calorie diet plan.
Next, it can help with the prevention of diabetes. Again, this is thanks to the fact that with stable blood glucose levels, you aren’t causing your pancreas to constantly have to secret insulin in order to control that glucose throughout the day.
The ketogenic diet is often used by those who are suffering from diabetes to gain better control over their systems.
Those who are on the ketogenic diet often report that once their body has adapted to being in ketosis, they experience very stabilized energy. They don’t get the high’s and lows that many others get who are consuming carbohydrates.
Ability To Eat High Fat Foods
Finally, let’s not forget the food! By using the ketogenic diet, you’ll be able to consume all those high fat foods that you’ve come to love so much.
Because this diet requires that over half your calories come from fat, you can easily feast on butters, cheese, oils, fatty fish, and of the like. Do keep in mind though that even some high fat foods like nut butters may be restricted as they could contain too many carbohydrates to keep you in ketosis.
Cons Of The Ketogenic Diet
Now that we’ve covered the benefits, what about the drawbacks? Like most things in life, this diet is not perfect. Here are some drawbacks.
First and probably most important, when you first start on this diet plan, you may experience what is referred to as the keto flu. This is essentially a time when the body is adapting to consuming fewer carbohydrates and it can leave you feeling rather miserable. Those who go through the keto flu often complain of feeling foggy minded, suffering from extremely low energy levels, having food cravings and hunger, and just feeling rather exhausted and miserable.
Some people experience it worse than others – there’s no way of really knowing until you give it a try for yourself. The good news is that if you can push through this time, and it usually lasts for about 1-2 weeks, you’ll be on to feeling much better once your body adapts.
Potential For Cholesterol Issues
Another issue that can arise when doing the ketogenic diet is the potential for heart health related problems. This can go one of two ways. If you choose to eat all healthy fat sources on your keto plan, you’ll likely find that your heart health actually improves and your cholesterol level is better managed.
If you don’t keep it to healthy fats however, then the opposite is likely to occur. You may find that you start suffering from high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure levels, and your risk for a heart attack is much greater than it was before.
It all comes down to the types of foods you are eating.
Constipation is another big problem for those who do the ketogenic diet. It’s highly likely that you will suffer from this due to the fact that you just aren’t taking in near the amount of fiber that you used to.
While some vegetables will be allowed each day, other high fiber foods like fruits and whole grains will be strictly prohibited.
Lack Of Micronutrients
Finally, you may also find that you start to suffer form a lack of micronutrients. As you won’t be taking in the vitamins and antioxidants that fresh fruits deliver, this can also impact your long-term health and disease risk factor.
It’s an important thing to consider that often gets overlooked because it doesn’t really impact you in the here and now.
So there you have the pros and cons of the ketogenic diet. As you choose your nutrition plan, really do try and take into account the long-term outlook. While if you only plan to use it for a few weeks that isn’t too bad, if you plan on using it for months on end, you could be missing out on nutrients that your body should be getting.
Shannon Clark is your go-to-girl. She holds a degree in Exercise Science from the University of Alberta, where she specialized in Sports Performance and Psychology. In addition to her degree, she is an AFLCA certified personal trainer and has been working in the field for over 12 years now, and has helped others of all ages lose weight, build muscle, and improve their physical performance.