You are probably wondering about the keto diet pros and cons if you are thinking of following the keto lifestyle. With so many people boasting about its benefits, keto sounds like a great diet to jump on. But like everything else, this diet plan comes with its own disadvantages, too.
Also, the effects of the diet will differ from one person to another. And, if you’re suffering from certain conditions, it may be worth talking to your health care provider before embarking on the ketogenic lifestyle.
The keto diet emphasizes eating high-fat foods while restricting carbohydrate consumption. The modern version is mainly designed for weight loss, although it also comes with several other health benefits. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the keto diet pros and cons to help you decide if the diet is right for you.
Related reading: Does Keto Really Work?
Keto Diet Pros And Cons
Keto Diet Pros
Weight Loss & Fat Loss
People often find they lose quite a lot of weight quite quickly on the keto diet but this is in fact usually water weight. Its encouraging though when you see those numbers on the scales going down and helps you to stay the course.
Related reading: Modified Keto Diet – A Better Way to Lose Weight?
On a standard diet, our body uses carbohydrates that we eat for energy. But if you switch to the keto diet and restrict your carb consumption, your body will turn to fats for energy. As a result, you will lose fat faster, which leads to weight loss.
Since you’ll be eating lots of higher-fat foods, your cravings and feelings of hunger will be minimized, which further adds to weight loss. In one study, it was found that low-carb diets like keto can contribute to weight loss by minimizing food cravings, which causes people to eat less.
Another study that compared 23 different studies that tracked down followers of low-carb and low-fat diets within a six-month period or less. It found that those who followed the low-carb diet lost an average of 2 to 3 times more weight compared to low-fat dieters.
Related reading: Keto Diet Versus Low Fat Diet For Weight Loss
In addition, the study found that low-carb diets are more effective at reducing abdominal fat. This abdominal fat, also known as visceral fat, is dangerous fat to have because it produces inflammatory substances which is linked to insulin resistance and heart disease as well as other health problems.
Related reading: Dangerous Visceral Fat : Will A Low Carb Diet Get Rid Of It?
While the keto diet is high in healthy fats, this does not mean that it will clog up your arteries, increase your bad cholesterol or blood fats. In fact, one of the health benefits of keto is that it is good for the heart in most people.
Related reading: Does Keto Lower Cholesterol?
A report published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology has concluded that the keto diet may help protect the heart of people with cardiovascular diseases.
The scientists involved in the study reviewed multiple studies before coming up with a conclusion. They also suggested using ketone supplements as an alternative to the keto diet.
Improves Brain Health
Low-carb diets like keto can benefit the brain in many ways. In fact, the diet has been used as a treatment for epilepsy since the 1920s. According to research, keto has cut down the number of epileptic seizures in kids by more than 50%.
But this is not the only positive effect that keto has on the brain. A review of studies done on keto has shown that the diet can also help to improve the symptoms associated with depression, ADHD, schizophrenia, and anxiety.
Lower Blood Glucose in Type 2 Diabetes
The keto diet requires restricting the consumption of carbs and this will have a positive impact on glucose concentrations. This is why people with pre-diabetes and Type 2 diabetes can greatly benefit from the keto diet.
Related reading: Is the Keto Diet Good for Diabetes?
The diet helps the body to maintain a healthy level of glucose, thanks to the low intake of carbs. By reducing your carb consumption, large spikes of blood sugar can be prevented, and the need for insulin or other medication can be minimized.
If you are diabetic and on insulin you should monitor your blood sugar carefully if you start to follow the keto diet to make sure it does not go too low. If you are taking tablets prescribed by your doctor then it’s best to discuss with him/her about how to taper off it.
Although the American Diabetes Association (ADA) will not recommend any single diet, some reviews show that the keto diet may benefit people with diabetes.
Relieves Chonic Pain
Because the diet can help reduce inflammation it can, in many cases, relieve the pain of rheumatoid and osteoarthritis.Althugh the research was done on rats the scientists believe that the keto diet enhances various antioxidants which in turn lowers inflammation.
Lowering inflammation generally in the body can help reduce the pain of many chronic inflammatory conditions including fibromyalgia and bowel diseases.
Keto Diet Cons
One of the most common side effects that you could encounter when starting out a keto diet is the keto flu. Cutting down on carbs will put you in a state of ketosis, where your body will start burning fats for energy.
When you first get into ketosis, your body starts to experience a cluster of uncomfortable symptoms, known as the “keto flu”. This can include fatigue, headaches, and nausea. However, these symptoms are only temporary. According to Kristen Mancinelli, M.S., R.D.N., author of The Ketogenic Diet,
“Once your body adapts to the new fuel source (usually within a week or two), you’ll start to feel better.”
Constipation is another common side effect that people following low-carb diets tend to suffer from. Once you start to restrict your carb consumption, you will not be getting enough of the high-fiber foods, such as whole grains and beans.
Related reading: Keto Diet Constipation : How To Combat It
Since most high-fiber fruits and veggies are high in carbs, you may have to eliminate them from your diet, too. Because of this, you could find yourself dealing with constipation.
To minimize constipation, try to get your fiber from keto-friendly foods, such as nuts, seeds and avocados. You can also include low-carb veggies, leafy greens and berries in your keto diet. Drinking lots of filtered water can help, too.
Related reading: Boost Your Fat Loss Efforts By Drinking Water
Disordered Eating Patterns
Our body is used to eating carbs. So when we suddenly cut out carbs, significant changes could occur. Switching to a low-carb diet could cause the brain to release a chemical that would signal our body that we need carbs.
If we will not provide the carbs that our body is asking for, the chemical builds up even further. This can lead to a disordered eating pattern, such as binge eating. Remember, this is not because you don’t have the willpower to avoid carbs. This is more to do with your body’s biological response to carb deprivation.
Alters Gut Microbiome
Your gut microbiome, the microorganisms in your digestive system, is very quickly responsive to changes in your diet. It’s not surprising then that by reducing carbohydrates in the diet which contain a lot of beneficial fiber that there will be an alteration in the composition of the gut bacteria.
Related reading: Is A Low Carb Diet Bad For Your Gut Bacteria?
Fiber, as you no doubt know, is thought to be essential for good health although proponents of the Carnivore Diet which does not include any plant food disagree.
Related reading: Fiber on Keto – Why Is It So Important?
In a 6 month study on humans researchers found that a high fat diet led to increased gut and systemic inflammation and lowered beneficial fatty acids. However they do not specify what level of carbohydrates were eaten during the study.
The research has not been consistant though because another 6 month study on 59 people found that a low-carb diet decreased inflammation more than following a low-fat diet.
Another study found that harmful, pathogenic gut bacteria that included Escherichia and Salmonella were reduced on a keto diet. Some studies have also shown that it has helped people recover from Crohn’s Disease and IBS.
At the end of the day it probably depends to a certain extent on your genes as to whether or not a keto diet will be good for you long term or not.
When the keto diet pros and cons are held up next to each other, it’s easy to see that the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. The keto diet may come with some side effects, but it has several potential benefits for our health.
Aside from helping with weight loss, it offers excellent benefits in terms of managing blood sugar levels and improving heart and brain health. But then again, the effects of keto could vary from one person to another. That’s why it’s highly recommended that you talk to a doctor before starting with the diet to see if it is a good choice for you.
People suffering from conditions involving the liver, pancreas, and thyroid should seek advice from their doctor before starting any type of low-carb diet, as the diet may not be suitable for them.