For beginners, the “keto” diet is a very low-carbohydrate diet. Anyone who is following a true ketogenic diet is typically replacing their carbohydrate consumption with fats — reducing their carbs down as low as 5% of total calories. If we were to get more granular, a common macronutrient breakdown of someone following the ketogenic diet is 65/30/5 (fats, protein, carbs).
The keto diet is so popular because of the way it reduces your insulin levels. Dietary fats don’t require that your body’s pancreas produce insulin, so you’re “allowed” to eat as many fats as you would like.
Over the years I have gone back and forth on the keto diet, but below I’d like to outline the pros and cons of following it.
Cleaner Foods: Any low carb diet typically improves the American diet because it eliminates the salty and sweet snacks! Most people struggle with eating sugar, so instead of ice-cream, cookies, and potato chips, you now replace those foods with nuts and seeds.
Less Cravings: If you don’t eat sugar, you don’t crave sugar. It’s as simple as that. And most of your cravings come from sugary foods.
Could Eat Less: I put the word “could” here because it doesn’t always happen; but you will probably eat less. This is because foods like avocados, bacon, butter, meat, and nuts/seeds simply fill you up faster and keep you satiated longer.
Faster Weight-Loss: If you follow the keto diet, the goal is to put your body into ketosis. Ketosis is a metabolic state where your body begins to burn ketones for fuel instead of glucose. If you’re burning stored fat for energy instead of glucose, you will burn off body fat faster.
Not Very Green: Fruits and vegetables are carbs, and if you’re limiting carbs to 5% or less of your diet, you’re probably not eating any of these. Instead of using up your daily carbs on fruits and vegetables, you’re probably going to have some bread or a handful of M&M’s. Those on the keto diet simply don’t eat very many fruits and vegetables.
Digestive Pain: Low carbs also (usually) leads to low-fiber. And with very little fiber in your diet, you can expect stomach pains.
Tough to Sustain: If you’re looking for a lifestyle change, the keto diet is going to be tough to follow for the rest of your life. However, if you need to drop 50+ lbs, it’s a great way to get momentum going in the right direction.
Lots of Saturated Fat + Animal Meat: The research here is so conflicting, so I’ll simply use this point to highlight that you will be consuming a lot of saturated fats and animal meat. After reading much of this research, I’m not convinced that saturated fats or animal meats are bad for you. But too much of anything probably isn’t good.
Following the keto diet presents plenty of pros and cons.
I’ve personally tried keto and really enjoyed it. The only reason I stopped doing it was because I wasn’t eating any fruits and vegetables.
If you were to ask me what you should do, I would recommend working with with a nutritionist one-on-one. Sure, there is benefit in receiving a custom nutrition plan, but more important than that, a nutritionist finally provides you with a professional friend to hold you accountable.
Most diets don’t work because of compliance. Working with a nutritionist takes care of that problem.
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