The Health Benefits and Cons of the Keto Food Diet
How good is a Low Carb Diet - The Benefits and Cons of the Ketogenic Diet
The Keto diet whilst being one of the most popular diets today and certainly one that has put low carb diets back on the map, is actually a very old diet having been around for over 100 years.
It's original use was for the treatment of epilepsy and it has been linked with many health benefits ever since. pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
That being said how healthy is the Keto Diet in todays modern use as a purely weight driven option, can it match up to other diets and even compete with plain old exercise.
Lets find out in the following article
Putting the Ketogenic Diet under the Microscope
The keto diet requires cutting carbs to under 50 grams per day before your body enters the metabolic state known as ketosis where your body uses fat stores for energy rather than carbohydrate stores. In this state, blood ketone levels spike in your body, mainly in your blood and urine that makes your body change its fuel source from carbohydrates to fat.
This changeover process normally last for around 5 days after which your energy levels will be just the same as before you started the diet.
Your body is capable of using the fat you consume to produce energy and if you're making enough ketones in your blood, you don't need carbohydrates to do this. The protein you consume on a keto diet is used sparingly to preserve function and muscle as well as assist with some biological functions.
Your body does require a certain amount of carbohydrate and it acquires this by synthetizing proteins into carbs, but its a slow process and the amount it produces will just be enough to maintain and support the health of your body.
This does mean however you cannot do intensive workouts or heavy weight lifting, your body simply won't produce enough carbohydrates to repair the muscle tears that are associated with high impact workouts, instead try and undertake more gentle exercise and limit the time you are going it for.
To get the most out of you Keto Diet ensure you have a good and balanced diet to go along with it, by doing this the Keto Diet can be a very healthy diet to follow.
Include in your diet, food from a with variety of sources such as
- Meats - Poultry, Red Meat, + any meat is fine.
- Seafood, Fish and Shellfish,
- Vegetable and Leafy greens, a good rule of thumb is that green vegatble have the least amount of carbs
- Nuts and Seeds,
- Non-starchy fruits - Some berries are fine in moderation.
- All fat is generally fine, although like unhealthy food try and stick to the more healthy options when it comes to fats like coconut oil etc.
Benefits of the Keto Diet
Research has shown that following a keto diet can lead to weight reduction and improved management of insulin or glucose levels, reduce physical symptoms like aches and pains and help with the management of chronic inflammatory conditions such as those related to eczema.
It has also shown to strengthen the immune system and keep inflammation under control, be useful for addressing ailments such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, have positive outcomes when it comes to managing some neurological disorders like epilepsy, and maintain healthy digestive health.
Let have a look at these in more detail
1. Keto Diets affect on weight loss
Weight loss is a huge benefit of being on the keto diet. and you can expect to lose up to 10 pounds within just two-three weeks although like every diet this can vary. The Keto Diet however is still one of the quickest and most effective to be on.
Like most calorie deficit diets the first 4-6lbs can simply be fluid loss which is common when you start a diet and use up your glucose reserves, but with the keto diet you never give your body the chance to replenish this reserves allowing continued weight loss, opposed to fluctuation of your glucose levels.
This initial weight loss is then followed by a slower weight loss, although this time you’re now losing body fat and not water weight.
Another benefit of the Keto Diets are lower blood pressure and higher good HDL cholesterol levels which were discovered during several month long blind trials.
The LCHF diet induced a rather modest increase in HDL cholesterol (effect size 0.32 mM) in the current trial. - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ (3)
2. Improved Blood Sugar Levels
Carbs may be an essential part of the human body, but too many carbs in your diet can lead to problems. Carbs are converted into glucose (your body’s preferred energy source) which leads to blood sugar spikes, mood swings, and inflammation – not to mention it is closely associated with obesity and insulin resistance.
Because carbohydrates promote a rise in insulin levels, eating fewer carbohydrates can help with reducing the likelihood of diabetes becoming unmanageable. Eating less carbs is particularly important if you’re trying to avoid diabetes or manage it efficiently, and it can be even more beneficial if you are already living with type 2 diabetes.
Switching to a low carb diet has been shown to reduce your blood sugar level and improve its stability, this has shown amazing improvements for people suffering from type two diabetes and in some cases has even been shown to cure the condition https://www.diabetes.co.uk/
3. Reduced Inflammation in the Body
To become the healthiest, people should look to eliminate things in their life that worsens their chronic inflammation. As an example, you should stop consuming sweets or heavily processed foods because they can increase your level of blood sugar and cause spikes in energy and anxiety.
Eating too much processed food can sometimes cause inflammation as a result of glycaemic load. To be specific, carbohydrates that enter the blood stream too quickly and cannot be used fast enough to make it usable fuel known as glucose.
As such the Keto Diet has anti-inflammatory effects on the body due to the vast reduction in sugar that will be consumed.
Carb reduction, especially sugar and enriched carb-rich processed foods, can be important for disease prevention and optimum health.
4. Improved health from Carb digestion problems
Some people have problems digesting carbohydrates in one form or the other, there is even a name for these type of carbs called FODMAP's (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols)
Many people experience digestive problems from carbs, think about any times you have had bloating, diarrhoea, flatulence constipation, or cramping from eating carb rich food, the same goes for hi carbohydrate alcohol such as beer.
The Keto diet helps to reduce this naturally by cutting the source of the problem "Carbs" and in this regard people that suffer from problems digesting carbs should consider a lower carb diet. https://wexnermedical.osu.edu
Potential Downsides of the Ketogenic Diet
Some people may try the keto diet for weight loss, claiming it can help curb hunger and lower one's sugar cravings as well as provide tons of health benefits. However, drawbacks can result from not properly adhering to this diet. Be sure to do your research before attempting this diet!
You have to be committed to the Keto Diet, its extremely simple as diets go but, but its extremely sensitive to you not sticking to it. It totally relies on your body being in Ketosis that way your body is forced to use fat as fuel as soon as your out of Ketosis if you continue eating carbs and high fat foods, you will just put on weight.
Thats why its so crucial to stick to under 50 grams a day, If you want a fool proof Keto Diet plan to follow instead to make things easy, Find out more about a Custom Keto Diet Plan
Even with the best will in the world though, you might come across these Cons when undertaking the Keto Diet
1. Surviving the Keto Flu
The keto flu is a group of symptoms that can come about after beginning the Keto diet. You may feel headaches, fatigue, and dizziness, or you may feel irritable and it can make your tummy upset.
This will only last for a little while longer because it’s all happening in your body because it’s changing its fuel source from sugar to fat.
Keto Flu can unfortunately make several people give up early, or crave carbs even more. it's only temporary though and after the first week you will be clear of the Keto Flu Symptoms.
Believe it or not a few days after the Keto Flu you will probably feel better than ever, carbs can slow down digestion and with you now eating all those green leafy veggies you will likely be getting a lot more nutrients into your body.
Fortunately, you can combat keto flu by getting lots of rest, staying hydrated (IMPORTANT), taking electrolytes, and increasing your fat intake.
Now that you have a better idea of how to overcome this nasty flu-like feeling on a ketogenic diet when it kicks in you should be a lot more prepared, not everyone gets the keto flu - for instance I normally just feel tired on the 2nd and 3rd day them I'm fine.
2. Eating Processed Foods
There are two ways to go about the Ketogenic Diet. You can attempt it the natural way by eating clean and just restricting yourself to natural, home cooked meals which contain no carbs, this way your eating foods that are mostly unprocessed.
The other way is by taking in processed foods, this isn't necessary a bad thing there are many healthy processed keto foods, and as such can be far more healthy than normal processed food.
But to look at the story in an unbiased way, you would want to make sure you aren't replacing home cooked healthy carb meals with processed and unhealthy low carb meals.
Like most things in life though there are good processed meals and bad ones and many Great Keto Products out there, just make sure your making good choices with your selection.
Thats why at The Carb Free Zone, we have created a range of foods from stores like Amazon, that way you know the foods will conform to decent standards and are peer reviewed by the people that buy them.
3. Getting used to restricting food
We all enjoy food. Not only does it provide our bodies with fuel, but it also brings us together, and makes for a great pastime for chewing the fat about anything and everything under the sun!
However, especially when following a specific diet like keto or paleo too closely, people can get so worried about being deprived of foods they love to eat that their minds start to turn with worry and fears of having to do something about it in terms of breaking their diets.
Everyone is different some people see food just as fuel whilst others might miss not eating their favourite meals, the key is to look past this mentality, leading a healthier life gained by short term use of the Keto Diet can help to ensure you are able to enjoy the things you love more in the future.
4. It can lead to Nutrient Deficiencies - with bad choices
Like most things in life there are the right and the wrong ways of doing things, ultimately a high carb intake in most people has the effect of slowing down the nutrient digestion from your food, this is because starchy foods slightly block your digestive systems nutrient absorption ability
"The reasons for the altered rates of digestion include fibre, food form, the nature of the starch, antinutrients etc. Through reducing the rate of digestion of starchy foods post prandially "slow release" starchy foods blunt many gut hormone responses, and prolong FFA and ketone body suppression" - https://pubmed.gov - PMID: 2820027 (1)
So actually undertaking a healthy balanced Keto Diet can help with nutrient absorption.
But there is the wrong way of doing it, if you use the Keto diet to eat unhealthy and processed foods with little variety it can be hard to keep your nutrient level in good condition, your also not going to be able to eat many types of fruit so you might miss out on those nutrients.
The key here is to eat a balanced diet full of veggies and try and take a Keto Supplement or Vitamin Tablets to help with your macronutrients and micronutrients intake.
FAQ's and extra information
If your still undecided these questions might help you make up your mind.
Will your Doctor recommend the keto diet? and how long can I stay on it for
Doctors are their for the long term health of the patient and as such their preference to the Keto Diet will be mixed, your essentially using a new diet and whilst its one that has been studied and has been linked to many positive benefits, its one that is different to the conventional diet plans.
As such your Doctor may have concerns about you being able to ensure you can continue to eat a healthy range of foods with all the right macro and micronutrients.
The Keto Diet works extremely well for weight loss, and excessive weight can be one of the leading devices to a short life, so anything that improves that is ultimately good and your Doctor should support you with this decision.
"For persons with severe obesity (BMI ≥40), life expectancy is reduced by as much as 20 years in men and by about 5 years in women" - Osama Hamdy, https://www.medscape.com/ (2)
The problem with the Keto Diet can come from using it long term say over a year, and essentially your doctor will want to ensure you are getting all the nutrients you require.
Short term use of the Keto Diet
Short term use of the Keto Diet up to 6 months is perfect for loosing weight and improving many other ailments as documented in this article, you should see most of your weight lost within the first 3 months, and improvements to mood, health and energy levels by the end of the same period.
Long term use of the Keto Diet
long term use gets a little more cloudy, and it totally depends on your lifestyle, if you have an active lifestyle you might find the Keto Diet restrictions won't allow you to fully maintain your muscle mass and you don't recover from exercise as well, if your a gym user, you will find it has affects on your body's ability to cope and recover.
There are two things you can do about this
Option one is to carb cycle on the Keto Diet and have a cheat day every Saturday or Sunday. This allows your body to get a boost of carbs to repair its muscles from strains and aches during the week and the short 24 hour period of eating carbohydrates won't allow your body to exit Ketosis.
Option two is to transition onto a Low Carb Diet instead and slowly increase your max allowed carbs from less than 50 grams a day to around 100-150 grams a day.
At this point you will leave Ketosis and your body will revert to using carbs as its main fuel source, the good news is on the low carb diet on a day that you need more energy just eat more carbs. but try and eat what your body requires without going back to eating high carbs every day.
The low carb diet will also mean you have to a be a little more careful on your fat intake as you won't be able to have as much as you would on the Keto Diet.
You can even use this Low Carb Diet as a break for a few months before going back onto the Keto Diet. if your doing it long term try and have a break every couple of months.
Whilst this sounds like a lot to take in remember the benefits that can be had from the Keto Diet.
If we look purely at the times the Keto Diet has been used during long term studies, they were to do with diabetics in which case people with type 2 diabetes, lost weight, reduced their blood sugar levels (hemoglobin A1c level) to normal levels and eventually sent their diabetes into remission.
"People who follow a low-carb diet for just 12 weeks increases their chances of putting type 2 diabetes into remission by 32%, a study has found" - https://www.diabetes.co.uk, Editor (Joe Smith, Viney Mistry)
Is the Keto Diet the right choice for you?
When you pick out a diet, think about your current health condition and its impact on what you eat. It's also important to consider food preferences and the research available on the diet as well as diets you've tried in the past.
The Keto Diet, is one of the quickest and healthiest ways to loose weight but it does require a big change to what you might currently eat, you will feel lethargic for the first few days, but after that your energy levels won't be affected and it can be an extremely quick and easy Diet to follow.
One of the hardest things on the Keto Diet is finding things to eat when out and about and that's why we created the Carb Free Zone to offer ideas and produce to you.
Like all health changes you may also want to discuss it with your healthcare provider if you’re currently taking medications.
More about the Carb Free Zone
Welcome to the Carb Free Zone, as regular keto diet users ourselves, we know how hard it can be to find those Keto and Low Carb friendly products.
This is why we created the Carb Free Zone, a place to show-off unique products that can help anyone on a low carb diet.
Feel free to have a browse of the products we list on our site and by purchasing them through us, you can help to make the Carb Free Zone a great resource for people undertaking a Carb Free Lifestyle.
The health information that The Carb Free Zone provides across all of it sources, including this website is for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for medical advice.
Be sure to consult with a qualified health professional or your doctor for your individual needs
(1) Jenkins DJ, Jenkins AL, Wolever TM, Collier GR, Rao AV, Thompson LU. Starchy foods and fiber: reduced rate of digestion and improved carbohydrate metabolism. Scand J Gastroenterol Suppl. 1987;129:132-41. doi: 10.3109/00365528709095867. PMID: 2820027. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
(2) Osama Hamdy, MD, PhD Medical Director, Obesity Clinical Program, Director of Inpatient Diabetes Program, Joslin Diabetes Center; Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School - https://www.medscape.com/answers/123702-11510/does-obesity-reduce-life-expectancy
(3) Burén J, Ericsson M, Damasceno NRT, Sjödin A. A Ketogenic Low-Carbohydrate High-Fat Diet Increases LDL Cholesterol in Healthy, Young, Normal-Weight Women: A Randomized Controlled Feeding Trial. Nutrients. 2021;13(3):814. Published 2021 Mar 2. doi:10.3390/nu13030814
MLA Burén, Jonas et al. “A Ketogenic Low-Carbohydrate High-Fat Diet Increases LDL Cholesterol in Healthy, Young, Normal-Weight Women: A Randomized Controlled Feeding Trial.” Nutrients vol. 13,3 814. 2 Mar. 2021, doi:10.3390/nu13030814
APA Burén, J., Ericsson, M., Damasceno, N., & Sjödin, A. (2021). A Ketogenic Low-Carbohydrate High-Fat Diet Increases LDL Cholesterol in Healthy, Young, Normal-Weight Women: A Randomized Controlled Feeding Trial. Nutrients, 13(3), 814. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13030814
NLM Burén J, Ericsson M, Damasceno NRT, Sjödin A. A Ketogenic Low-Carbohydrate High-Fat Diet Increases LDL Cholesterol in Healthy, Young, Normal-Weight Women: A Randomized Controlled Feeding Trial. Nutrients. 2021 Mar 2;13(3):814. doi: 10.3390/nu13030814. PMID: 33801247; PMCID: PMC8001988. - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8001988/#:~:text=In%20their%20study%2C%20total%20cholesterol,contained%20a%20majority%20of%20women.