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Pros & Cons Of Keto Diet 2023: According to Nutritionists
As a way to lose weight, control appetite, and cut back on carbs, millions of people turn to the keto diet. In 2020 alone, the “most-Googled” diet was the ketogenic diet, and for good reason. The start of the pandemic caused Americans to reevaluate their lifestyles and adopt healthier habits. Every year, more than a million Americans commit to going keto and that number could be higher, but not everyone understands the pros and cons of the keto diet.
It’s true that keto isn’t for everyone and that it simply doesn’t “take” for many people but more often than not, this is due to not enough people knowing how to determine if it’s appropriate for them. Instead of failing, learn more about the keto diet pros and cons, how to tell if it’s right for you, and how to do it properly.
Keto Diet Pros And Cons
Keto Diet Pros
- Quick Weight Loss
- Boosted Satiety
- Improved Brain Function
- Potential for Improved Heart Health
Keto Diet Cons
- Nutrient Deficiencies
- Limited Food Choices
- Risk of Renal Challenges
- “Keto Flu” and Initial Side Effects
Pros And Cons Of Keto Diet
Keto Diet Pros
Quick Weight Loss
Weight loss comes from using the right weight loss tool, consistent low-calorie ketogenic diet, and carb restrictions. The way this works with the ketogenic diet is by your body quickly burning through the carbs your liver and muscles store (glycogen). In a way, this happens in tiers because after your body burns through its reserve of glycogen, your body then moves on to burning body fat. This is what causes that quick weight loss that is so popular with going keto.
Weight management and feeling full is the key to successfully losing weight and when your body is in ketosis, your body will have plenty of stored fat to access for fuel. One of the most important issues between keto pros and cons is that going keto gives you more protein but with fewer foods that stimulate those cravings often associated with rapid weight gain.
Improved Brain Function
Ketogenic brain health is one of the health benefits of the keto diet that is less well-known. Keto diets offer a stable source of energy, improved mitochondrial functioning, and offers anti-inflammatory effects. Ketones have also been found to have neuroprotective properties and what this means is that they may help protect and preserve brain cells.
This is particularly relevant in conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and epilepsy, where there is evidence to suggest that the ketogenic diet may have a positive impact in reducing symptoms and slowing disease progression. Ketone bodies offer a way to access alternative fuels for your brain’s metabolism and they also help enhance the survival of your neurons according to research conducted by the National Institutes of Health. This can also help to enhance your mental focus which is something that many keto dieters enjoy experiencing when looking for additional health benefits.
Potential For Improved Heart Health
The ketogenic diet helps to reduce inflammation and also reduces oxidative stress. Long-term use of this diet has been found to cause serious problems with the heart and almost doubles your risk for heart attack or stroke. This diet, especially if you have a concern about cardiovascular risk factors, should not be used long-term.
Keto Diet Cons
While keto comes with a lot of pros, this diet could put you at risk of experiencing a nutrient deficiency. Water soluble vitamins are also almost completely lacking when you go keto and we need these types of vitamins to support our immune systems and to stimulate the production of cells. Unfortunately, the keto diet may cause you to miss out on a full class of macronutrients which is essential for maintaining our body’s structure, our energy levels, and controlling overall body weight.
Limited Food Choices
When going keto, be prepared to have a highly restrictive diet. The best way to stay on track with this lower-protein and high-fat diet without the stress of “what can you eat?” is by following a keto diet meal plan.
This diet plan not only limits your food options but can become a bit of a psychological challenge given the need to determine what is and isn’t high in carbs, the need to limit a lot of what we know as daily essentials, and having to figure out portions based on the results you want to see.
Simply put, eating clean is more expensive than eating “not-so-clean”. Processed foods and food options with refined carbohydrates will have a higher price tag than those that are of high quality and unprocessed. Considering the ketogenic diet will require good quality animal product choices, quality whole grains, and low-carb foods like avocado, you can expect to spend a bit more than you would on other options.
Risk Of Renal Challenges
Keto isn’t necessarily one of the new popular diet trends. It’s actually over a century old and we learn more about it every day. One of the risks we’ve learned to be associated with long-term involvement in this low carbohydrate diet is the risk of renal problems. Be mindful that long-term health risks can occur.
Continued exposure to the changes that the keto diet comes with can also put stress on your kidneys along with the risk of developing kidney stones. You will likely lose protein in your urine and experience higher uric acid levels which is what’s directly linked to both kidney disease and kidney stones.
“Keto Flu” and Initial Side Effects
You may or may not have heard of keto flu but it is a real thing and it’s similar to the flu given that it mimics the same symptoms. This type of flu is directly caused by how your body responds to what’s called ketosis. What causes such a strong reaction is your body’s withdrawal from carbs.
Carbs are our default source of energy because we need glucose to produce it and this affects our level of physical activity as well as how we can support our body’s functioning day-to-day.
We simply cannot survive without carbohydrate intake. Although a low-carb diet (low carbohydrate diet) is safe for short-term use it can throw our metabolic processes out of whack and this is what confuses the body and causes highs and lows in both physical and mental wellness when you consider the keto diet pros and cons.
Keto Pros And Cons: Other Things To Consider Before Dieting
The first thing you should do before going keto is to talk with your primary care physician if you have health concerns. Also, consider how restrictive this diet would be if you have extensive allergies because this will affect the accessibility of certain foods. Additionally, consider:
- If you have the means and the drive to be consistent enough to allow this diet to be effective
- Whether you are trying to conceive, you’re currently lactating, or currently pregnant
- What you hope to achieve (keto is also good for better blood sugar control and cholesterol levels)
To assist you with your journey, think about using a multivitamin supplement and whether enhancing this diet with other supplement options would be appropriate for you, and identify the best keto diet pills on the market that would best suit your weight loss journey.
Some pros and cons of the keto diet are that it isn’t appropriate for everyone. This can cause some confusion if you don’t know what they are.
Many people consume too many carbs when on the keto diet and low-fat diets that’s why they don’t see the rapid weight loss goals they want. Assessing your personal situation can help you determine if going keto makes sense for you.
There is a lot to consider with the pros and cons of keto diet methods. The initial phase of transitioning into ketosis may come with side effects like the “keto flu,” which can cause a decrease in energy, foggy brain, irritability, and other symptoms. Digestive issues can also arise due to the high-fat foods involved with this low-fat diet along with nutritional deficiencies due to the restricted food choices.
This will require a careful diet to ensure an adequate intake of essential vitamins, minerals, whole grains, and dietary fiber which can pose a challenge for some. Sustaining ketogenic diets long-term can be challenging in some cases due to its highly restrictive nature, potentially leading to feelings of deprivation and difficulty sticking with the diet but it could be beneficial if done right.
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- McGaugh, E. and Barthel, B. (2022). A Review of Ketogenic Diet and Lifestyle. Missouri medicine, [online] 119(1), pp.84–88. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9312449/#:~:text=With%2025.4%20million%20unique%20searches,the%20United%20States%20in%202020.
- McGaugh, E. and Barthel, B. (2022). A Review of Ketogenic Diet and Lifestyle. Missouri medicine, [online] 119(1), pp.84–88. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9312449/
- Sarah Marie Gough, Casella, A., Kristen Jasmin Ortega and Hackam, A.S. (2021). Neuroprotection by the Ketogenic Diet: Evidence and Controversies. [online] 8. doi:https://doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2021.782657.
- American College of Cardiology. (2023). ‘Keto-Like’ Diet May Be Linked to Higher Risk of Heart Disease, Cardiac Events – American College of Cardiology. [online] Available at: https://www.acc.org/About-ACC/Press-Releases/2023/03/05/15/07/Keto-Like-Diet-May-Be-Linked-to-Higher-Risk.
- Campos, M. (2018). What is keto flu? – Harvard Health. [online] Harvard Health. Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/what-is-keto-flu-2018101815052#:~:text=The%20so%2Dcalled%20keto%20flu,is%20not%20recognized%20by%20medicine.