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There are two aspects of everything; one tells us about the benefits of that thing, while the other tells us about the disadvantages. The same is the case with the ketogenic diet. There is contradicting evidence. Some experts say that the ketogenic diet effectively reduces weight, while others disagree by pointing out health concerns. So, in this article, we will take a plunge into the pros and cons of a keto diet. We will explain each one in detail.
Pros of the keto diet
The ketogenic diet reduces carbohydrate intake while increasing fat intake, which causes various metabolic changes in the body. These metabolic changes are termed ketosis. When you eliminate carbohydrates from your food intake, then the overall water content of your body also reduces initially. That’s why the ketogenic diet results in rapid weight loss due to the following reasons:
Firstly, carbohydrates are digested quickly, so no matter how much carbs you eat, you will feel hungry after some time, but fats take much longer than carbohydrates to digest. So, if your food mainly consists of fats, it will keep you satisfied for a longer time and reduce your appetite.
Secondly, your fat is metabolizing, meaning that the stored fat in your body is burned for energy production. People have reported feeling less hungry during a ketogenic diet compared to other restrictive diets. Studies have also shown that doctors prescribe the ketogenic diet to patients for weight loss.
A comparative study showed that people who followed this diet had a significantly reduced BMI compared to the low-calorie diet group. It is an effective way to reduce weight quickly, but if you ask about long-term weight maintenance, it depends on the person. If you revert to your old habits, your weight will also return, but if you keep those healthy changes, you will maintain your weight.
The Keto diet is effective for weight loss because it promotes satiety- a feeling of fullness and satisfaction after a meal. Satiety may be elevated due to the following reasons:
High-fat content: keto diet mainly consists of high-fat foods that keep you satisfied for a longer time and give you a pleasant mouth feel which helps you eat less frequently.
Protein digestion: protein digestion takes time compared to carbohydrate digestion, and during the keto diet, proteins are also consumed in large amounts. That’s why you will not feel hungry for a long time. Hunger hormones: studies have shown that the presence of large quantities of Ketone bodies in the blood during the keto diet helps reduce ghrelin levels that, in turn, suppress appetite and hunger. Less appetite means less eating, which is equal to weight loss.
The main aim of the people who go on a diet is to achieve a six-pack look or slim waistline. Unfortunately, no one can say which fats will be reduced during a dieting plan. But there is some evidence that the keto diet mainly targets abdominal fat. A study published in nutrition and metabolism found that it is effective for weight loss in the short term compared to the low-calorie diet. Another study also found that it mainly targets fat in the abdominal region during fat metabolism.
Increased athletic performance
Studies were conducted to find if the keto diet increased athletic performance. Low-carb-high-fat diets can improve athletic performance by controlling body weight, reducing body fat, and maintaining muscle mass in sensitive sports. Endurance athletes also go for the keto diet because it efficiently burns fat compared to a low-calorie diet. Studies indicated that gymnasts who followed a keto diet had significantly reduced body weight and fat. In contrast, other studies suggested that resistance training paired with a keto diet helps athletes maintain muscle mass and metabolize fat.
Other health benefits
Many studies were carried out to find the health benefit of the keto diet. One study investigated the long-term effects of the keto diet in obese patients, and it was found that after following the keto diet for 24 weeks, patients had improved HDL levels, low cholesterol, and LDL levels, decreased BMI, and lower blood glucose levels. But no one can say with certainty if these benefits will be the same for each person because many different types of keto diets and foods are consumed during this diet.
Treating medical conditions
In the past keto diet, along with other medical therapies, had been used to treat epilepsy in children. Much evidence suggests this dieting plan’s effectiveness in people with different medical issues. Where medication does not work, diet is also used to treat other medical conditions Like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, stroke, trauma, psychiatric disorders, Autism, and migraines.
Cons of the keto diet
Despite its health benefits ketogenic diet also has some drawbacks. Research is ongoing to find the impact of a keto diet on a person’s health. Following are some of the disadvantages of the keto diet:
Restrictive food choices
The Keto diet is highly restrictive as most of the food choices are eliminated during this diet. Most grain and green products, some dairy and some fats, starchy vegetables, fruits, and all sugars are not part of this diet. These foods are the main food items that the average American eats during the day. So keto diet is complicated to maintain as you must make considerable changes to your eating habits due to its restrictive nature. Many nutritional deficiencies are also a part of this diet. So, Health Care professionals only keep the keto diet for medical therapy purposes. Eating a single piece of cake or a single granola bar before your flight will kick your body out of ketosis. As a result, people become discouraged quickly and feel frustrated.
A person following a keto diet will experience some side effects within the first or second week as his body typically switches in and out of ketosis. So, you will feel those symptoms again and again initially. The symptoms are termed keto flu and include fatigue, insomnia, light ability nausea, weakness, and gastrointestinal problems.
Studies have also shown that increased levels of ammonia and free fatty acids in the bloodstream of some athletes and this increase results in central nervous system fatigue and impaired metabolism. The adaptation period of the keto diet for athletes consists of several months and is even longer for endurance athletes.
Expensive to maintain
Not all fats are healthy, and choosing the right fats is very important. Usually, people eat bacon, beef, butter, and other saturated fats, but healthy fats during a keto diet are coconut oil, avocado oil, unsalted nuts, and plant-based foods. These foods are commonly expensive; they may not even be available in your local market. For example, you can find coconut, but it isn’t easy to find coconut oil. Avocado is also not hard to find, but avocado oil is tough to find and is an expensive food item.
The keto diet is very effective in the short term, but the effects of the diet in the long time need to be clarified and well-researched. Studies have shown that people who suffer from medical conditions like liver failure, disorders of fat metabolism, and deficiency of pyruvate kinase cannot follow this diet safely. In addition, people with diabetes who take insulin shots should not follow this diet without consulting a physician for proper medication changes.
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