The Keto Diet: Healthy Or Unhealthy Lifestyle?
With the rise of the popularity of the Ketogenic diet, more and more people have identified with their Keto journey as not only being a diet but a lifestyle.
For most, their Keto journey has ceased to be one that merely follows a specific macronutrient intake or one that strictly follows what food to eat and avoid. Instead, their keto journey has been all about commitment and changed mindset and a change of lifestyle in more ways than one.
Now with Keto being more of a lifestyle than a diet, the question continues to demand attention: Is Keto a healthy or unhealthy lifestyle?
This article will help you explore all you need to know about the Ketogenic, what it does to your body, and your overall way of life.
What is the Ketogenic Diet?
Before we dive into the benefits you can get, let’s get this concept out of your way first: What is the Ketogenic diet, when did it start, and how does it work?
The Ketogenic diet started in the 1920s. It has was primarily used as an alternative treatment for epilepsy. Over the years, it has been known for its comprehensive benefits, including weight loss, managing diabetes (type I and II), insulin, and blood sugar levels. How does the ketogenic diet specifically achieve this?
The Ketogenic diet is a very low-carb diet that restricts your body of carbohydrates to fuel your body. Instead, it increases your healthy fat intake, converts those fats into ketones to fuel your body. When your body does this, your body reaches the metabolic state of ketosis, which is the goal of the Ketogenic diet.
It may not look like it because of the diet’s strict restriction on carbs, but you can make your way with the Ketogenic Diet. Like all other types of diet, the Ketogenic diet is not set in stone. The specific macronutrient intake you have to follow will depend on different factors, including your age, health condition, tolerance level, fitness, and nutritional goals.
In keeping with this, there are different types of the Ketogenic Diet, each one depending on your individual goals. Here are some of the common types of the Ketogenic Diet:
1. Standard Ketogenic Diet
This type of Ketogenic is probably one that you know or one that you have looked up on the internet. When people think of the Ketogenic diet, this is the variation of the diet that most people know.
This diet variation consists of the following macronutrient intake:
75% fat intake
20% protein intake
5% carbohydrate intake
You may be alerted of the high percentage of fat you have to take in this type of diet. Is that high-fat level healthy or beneficial for my body? It certainly is! The kind of fat consumed in this ketogenic diet is Healthy Fat or otherwise known as the Good Fats. This is to be distinguished on your Bad fats that increase clogs your arteries and increases your risk of getting severe health conditions.
Some of the examples of good fat you need to incorporate in your diet include:
- Butter (cacao, coconut)
- Oil (organic coconut oil, MCT)
- Coconut Milk
2. Targeted Ketogenic Diet
This type of diet is mostly geared for athletes or active individuals. This variation of the ketogenic diet allows this type of individual to consume high-quality carbohydrates before a workout. Why? Athletes and other active individuals usually perform high-intensity movements and activities. They can burn carbs off more quickly; that is why an added percentage of carbs is not a problem!
One tip for this Targeted Ketogenic Diet is for you to consume easily digestible carbohydrates. After the workout, don’t forget to take in enough protein to build your muscle mass faster.
3. Cyclical Ketogenic Diet
This type of Ketogenic Diet is known as the solution to your long-term ketogenic diet success. Why? The Cyclical Ketogenic Diet is perfect for those who follow a Ketogenic diet but needs a break once in a while to indulge in their favorite carb-rich foods.
The Cyclical Keto Diet allows your body to have carbs or healthy, non-processed carbs like berries, carrot juice, or sweet potatoes. You can plan to reserve your keto breaks during occasions, events, vacations, or all the times when resisting carbs seem to be an impossible job! This keto diet indeed requires extra self-control as you will have to discipline yourself back to the Standard Ketogenic Diet after 24-48 hours o break.
You can practice this cyclical variation following a five-day low carb and two-day high carb. Again, before you commit yourself to this keto diet, make sure your self-control and discipline are intact.
4. High Protein Ketogenic Diet
This type of keto diet is geared towards individuals with obesity. For this type of diet, your macronutrient intake looks like this :
35% protein intake
60% fat intake
5% carb intake
At its core, the High Protein Keto diet can be alternated with added amounts of protein. Just like carbs in a Cyclical Keto diet, this type of diet uses protein to enhance your muscle building and overall physical performance.
A caveat, however, while protein is suitable for your body to remember that too much of it will cause you to veer from ketosis! So if you choose to commit with this keto diet variation, make sure to research thoroughly about this specific type of keto diet.
5. Restricted Ketogenic Diet
This keto diet variation is a calorie-restricted version of the Standard Keto Diet. In this diet, dieters are placed in a strict caloric restriction, and only consume 12 grams or fewer carbohydrates daily.
The Restricted Ketogenic Diet is frequently used in the medical field. Often, the restricted keto dieter starts this type of diet with a three day fast. This keto variation is found to be most effective for people battling cancer. A study conducted shows that after two months into the diet, a brain cancer patient showed no signs of mutated brain tissue.
In this type of keto diet, on top of monitoring your caloric intake, carbs, and ketosis, medical experts will also ensure that specific ketone levels will need to be achieved.
The Pros and Cons of Keto Diet
Nowadays, the ketogenic diet is a topic everyone seems to be talking about. You may have also seen it on food packaging, recipes, and all across social media. With so many people boasting about its benefits, it sounds like an exciting trend, especially if you want to achieve weight loss. However, before jumping the gun and starting a new diet plan, it is always a good idea to do your research and look at the pros and cons of the diet. If you want a safer option, speak to your doctor or your local nutrition experts first about whether the switch is a good plan for you.
The ketogenic diet plan gives importance to high-fat and low carbs. This set up means that the immediate and primary benefit the diet wants you to experience is weight loss. By lowering your carb intake or eliminating it allows your body to undergo the state of ketosis, which makes your body burn fat to use as energy.
To help you understand the keto diet more and whether it is the right diet for you, we’ve listed some of the pros and cons of it.
1. Weight Loss
In your regular diet, your body uses glucose from carbohydrates to be used as energy. However, when you are in a keto diet, you restrict your body of carbohydrates, which means that your body is in a glucose deficit. This pushes your body to switch to the next fuel source and will instead use fats for energy. With your body using fats as its primary source of energy, you lose body fat quickly. This is one of the many explanations as to what keto diet enjoys the benefit of weight loss.
2. Blood Sugar Control
For people who have Type 2 Diabetes, the keto diet might be the perfect diet for you. Various scientific evidence in researches showed that it could help you in your blood sugar control.
A Carb diet has a direct impact on glucose concentration, mostly if done long term. This type of diet is a straight forward way to get your diabetes under control. However, before utilizing this strategy, consult your registered dietitian first. Seeking their professional opinion can help you produce the results keto diet offers and reap the other health benefits more.
3. Helps certain medical conditions
- Epilepsy- The ketogenic diet has been used to reduce seizures for many years successfully. The classic ketogenic diet highlights a special high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet that helps control seizures in some people who have epilepsy. Physicians typically recommend the ketogenic diet for patients, particularly children whose seizures have not responded to several different seizure medicines. The usual keto diet prescribed by physicians is called the long-chain triglyceride diet, which provides three (3) to four (4) grams of fat for every 1 gram of carbohydrate and protein. Keto diet plans are usually prescribed by the physicians and are carefully monitored by a registered dietitian.
- Cancer- There is a growing number of researches that link the effectiveness of the ketogenic diet against cancer. One of the most popular explanations as to how the ketogenic diet can help in curing cancer is due to the Warburg effect. The rationale behind the Warburg effect is it “starves” the tumor cells of the glucose, which inhibits their growth and prevents cancer. Keto diet in cancer therapy helps reduce the circulating glucose levels and induce ketosis. When the body is in ketosis, the cancer cells are deprived of energy sources. In contrast, normal cells can adapt their metabolism to use ketone bodies and survive. Also, the keto diet helps drop the drivers of cancer cell proliferation by reducing the blood glucose, insulin levels, and insulin-like growth factor.
4.Lessens cardiovascular risk factors
Weight loss as one of the positive effects of the Keto diet. It can help you lessen cardiovascular risk factors such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, lower the amount of LDL or bad cholesterol, and induce a high amount of HDL or good cholesterol. Reducing your weight means preventing your body from obtaining heart disease.
1. Nutrient Deficiencies
When you are in a keto diet, some food groups are excluded from being part of your diet. For instance, nutrients found in food like whole grains and fruit are restricted from the diet and can likely lead to deficiencies. It is essential to incorporate a wide variety of allowable food groups in the keto diet as these give you different essential nutrition needed by your body. Focus on meats, seafood, vegetables, legumes, and fruits to make sure you are getting fiber, B vitamins, and minerals such as iron, magnesium, and zinc.
It is highly recommended for you to plan and follow the Keto correctly. If there are areas where you are confused, it is best to consult your registered dietician to assess or alleviate the areas of possible deficiency.
2. Keto Flu
During the first few weeks or months following the keto diet, you may experience the uncomfortable side effects from significantly cutting down carbohydrates in your diet, commonly called the Keto Flu. Its symptoms may include but are not limited to hunger, headaches, nausea, fatigue, irritability, constipation, and brain “fog.” For some, sleep and hydration can help but for many, experiencing this diet is not pleasant at all.
3. Compromised Gut Health
Reducing your carb diet means significantly cutting down the whole grain and fruit food group in your diet. This also means considerably reducing your source of fiber nutrients. This sudden change in lifestyle may not be a good thing for your gut health.
With the Ketogenic diet’s impressive weight loss plan and other potential health benefits it offers, it is not a surprise that it is of the most popular diets in trend. But is it worth the limelight, or is it just another fad diet? But more importantly, is keto diet a sustainable and healthy lifestyle?
Well, the keto diet’s health benefits are not just for show. In fact, many people have testified of its effect. However, the ketogenic diet is not a miracle weight loss diet or a fix-all solution for all your health problems. In most cases, the keto diet can be your starting point. But first, you have to consider and assess how your current lifestyle will be affected by such a restrictive diet and what you can give up on it.
When starting a lifestyle change, it is essential always to practice healthy eating habits and an active lifestyle while ensuring that everything is done at a healthy pace. It is also recommended to seek a professional opinion regarding the change, especially with your physician and registered dietician and nutritionist. They can help you assess your personal health history, preferences, goals, activity level, personalized nutrition intake, as well as your unique health needs. What may work for you may not work for the others and vice versa.
Is Keto a healthy and sustainable diet? It can be with proper eating habits, active lifestyle, and guidance with healthcare professionals.
Disclaimer: This content provides general information only and not a substitute for a qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your doctor for more details.