Sunday, September 20

Advantages and Disadvantages of a Keto Diet

Over the years, we have witnessed a steady increase in the healthy food revolution. People are enthusiastic about trying out the latest food trends and diets. One of the many diets that have gained traction recently is the keto diet. Keto or ketogenic diet has been advertised to be effective in very quick and rapid weight loss among dieters. But is it a good diet to follow or is it just another extreme fad? Let us look at its pros and cons.

WHAT IS A KETO DIET?

The ketogenic diet is a low-carbohydrate and fat-rich dietary plan that was originally in use to treat specific medical conditions. Now, the prominence of this diet has emerged as a popular low-carbohydrate diet for weight loss. This diet restricts the amount of carbohydrate-rich foods in the body and replaces it with fat-rich foods. The keto diet deprives the body of glucose (the main source of energy for the body) obtained by carbohydrates and uses an alternative for it called ketones which are produced from stored fats. In other words, it uses fats for energy instead of carbohydrates. Usually, this diet consists of 70 percent of calories derived from fats, 20 percent of proteins, and 10 percent carbohydrate. Examples of this diet include foods like eggs, tofu, mushrooms, some leafy vegetables, nuts, and avocados.

TYPES OF KETOGENIC DIET

There are different variations to the ketogenic or keto diet. Some of them include the standard ketogenic diet (SKD), cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD), the targeted ketogenic diet (TKD), and high protein ketogenic diet. The standard ketogenic diet is 75 percent fats, 20 percent proteins, and 5 percent carbohydrates. Cyclic ketogenic diet is where more carbohydrates are eaten after a keto cycle, that is, five ketogenic days followed by two higher carbs days. This is called carbs backloading. The targeted ketogenic diet allows carbohydrates during workout times. A high protein ketogenic diet, as the name suggests, includes more protein and is similar to the standard ketogenic diet.

BRIEF HISTORY

In the 19th century, the keto diet was used to control diabetes. The term “ketogenic diet” was first used in 1921 by Dr. Russell Morse Wilder. He was the first to use this diet to treat epilepsy patients. This was mainly developed to reproduce the use of fasting to treat epilepsy. But with the introduction of anticonvulsant drugs, this diet was not as widely used for the treatment of the disease. It has also been used in some measures for the treatment of cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and polycystic ovary syndrome. However, now this ketogenic diet has gained popularity as a potential weight-loss strategy.

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Advantages and Disadvantages of a Keto Diet

ADVANTAGES OF A KETO DIET

Weight Loss

Ketogenic diets can be helpful for weight loss when monitored by a licensed doctor or nutritionist. It has shown successful results of rapid weight loss. When carbohydrates are restricted in your body, you burn fats to use as energy instead. In other words, you lose body fat more quickly. Among the various low-fat diets, the ketogenic diet comes highly recommended for its outcome. It helps in losing fat as well as preserve muscle mass. It promotes losing weight with various factors. For instance, there is a decrease in insulin and ghrelin which are hormones that restore appetite, and high-fat content and the ketone in the body helps in reducing hunger.  There is also a decrease in fat storage in the body but at the same time there is increasing the amount of fat-burning daily. Hence, this is a beneficial weight loss tool.

Dietary Therapy for Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a neurological disease that is characterized by epileptic seizures that affect millions of people around the world. The keto diet was first introduced for medical interventions and one of the diseases was epilepsy. Sometimes the anticonvulsant drugs might not work on certain epileptic patients. When drugs fail, other options like the ketogenic diet are employed to control the disease. According to a study, over a third or two-thirds of patients experience about 50 percent fewer seizures after being on the diet for over six months.

Heath Benefits

Apart from weight loss, there are many other health benefits of a keto diet. By losing weight, many obesity-related health problems can be eliminated. These include high blood pressure, an increase in cholesterol levels, and insulin resistance. Additionally, it also reduces chronic inflammation which is a leading symptom for certain metabolic diseases like diabetes. Keto diet might also have a positive impact on diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease.

DISADVANTAGES OF A KETO DIET

Nutrient Deficiency

One of the biggest drawbacks of the ketogenic diet is that it is not a well-balanced diet. A healthy diet should include equal portions of fruits and vegetables, legumes, staples foods like rice, and foods from animal sources. The majority of the diet covers only fat-rich foods. According to the World Health Organisation, a healthy diet should not exceed more than 30 percent of total fat out of the total energy intake for the body. Since there is no concept of whole foods in the diet, there can be deficiencies in micro-nutrients like vitamin C, magnesium, phosphorus, etc.

Health Issues

As the keto diet has extreme levels of fat consumption, there can be certain health issues associated with it. These include fatigue, hunger, low blood sugar levels, headaches, mood swings, etc. A decrease in insulin resistance can cause health issues like inflammation and fat gain. Generally, the diet is safe for healthy people but there can be side effects. This can manifest as a keto flu that has symptoms like nausea, headaches, constipation, muscle cramps, or even diarrhea. The diet may also cause long term side effects like kidney stones, an increase in uric acid, or osteoporosis (a condition where the bones in your body become weak and brittle). Hence, it is important to have a healthy lifestyle with well-balanced meals.

Advantages and Disadvantages of a Keto Diet

No Long Term Benefits

There is uncertainty regarding the long-term benefits of a ketogenic diet. Only short-term results of this diet have been studied. And even those results have yielded mixed reviews. There is no proper research for whether this can work in the long run as it is still a new trend. In other words, there is no evidence to prove that people can go on this diet for a longer-term and also no one knows if it is safe or not.

In conclusion, we must remember that every individual has a unique physiology. One standard diet may not work for everyone. Therefore, always consult a licensed doctor or nutritionist before getting on extreme diets like the keto diet.

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Pros and Cons of a Keto Diet

PROS

CONS

Weight Loss

Nutrient Deficiency

Health Benefits

Health Issues

Dietary Therapy for Epilepsy

No Long Term Benefits