In this article, we will look at the pros and cons of the Keto Diet, and why and how it works for weight loss.
The Keto or Ketogenic Diet is low in carbs and high in fat, with moderate amounts of protein allowed.
Created in 1924 by Dr. Russell Wilder, a Mayo Clinic physician, it aimed to lower the severity and frequency of seizures in epileptic children.
Foods known to commonly trigger seizures including those containing sugar, wheat, and soy were removed from the patients’ diets.
At least half noted a drop in seizures by around 50%. This benefit continued even after patients resumed their regular eating pattern. Adults also had success with the diet.
When news of its ability to promote rapid fat loss became known, Hollywood A-listers and celebrities started following the Keto Diet for weight loss. Seeing their success, dieters the world over were soon embracing it, and it is now one of the most popular diets of recent years.
There have been numerous versions of the diet over the years, with one of the most popular being the Custom Keto Diet, which you can read about by clicking on the previous link.
Next, we will look at how the Keto Diet works.
How Does the Keto Diet for Weight Loss Work?
The Keto Diet involves following a menu that is very high in fat and very low in carbohydrates, with medium amounts of protein allowed. The split is around 60 to 80% fat, 20 to 30% protein, and 5 to 10% carbs.
Carbs are a primary energy source. When we limit their consumption, the liver derives ketones from fat to use as fuel for the body and brain to function. When following a Ketogenic meal plan, ketones replace carbs as an energy source. This process results in the body using its fat stores.
Ketones are also produced when you follow a low-calorie diet. This is because the body burns its fat stores as fuel when it does not receive sufficient calories to function properly. This process, which is known as ketosis, promotes weight loss.
If you want to try the Keto Diet, I recommend that you either buy Keto: The Complete Guide to Success on The Ketogenic Diet, or borrow a copy from your library.
The book covers everything you may want to know about the health and weight-loss aspects of the diet. It also contains a range of easy-to-prepare no-cook meals that the whole family will enjoy.
Next, we will look at the advantages of the Ketogenic Diet, followed by the drawbacks.
Pros and Cons of the Keto Diet
- Reduced appetite
One of the major pros of the Keto Diet is that the allowed foods are satisfying, so you will be less inclined to overeat. With a reduced appetite it will be easier to stick to the program and reach your weight loss goal.
Another of the advantages of the Ketogenic Diet is that if you eat the recommended foods, you won’t have to count calories as such.
- Fat loss
Most people go on the Keto Diet for weight loss purposes. The difference between this and many other diets is that along with losing weight; you will also lower your body fat percentage.
This is great news for anyone who has reduced their weight quickly on a fad diet only to find that the lower number on the scale was due to having lost water and lean muscle, not fat.
- The potential for superior results
A twelve-month test study carried out in 2007 compared the results of participants who followed a Keto meal plan to others who were on Zone, LEARN, and Ornish eating plans. Not only did the Keto dieters lose more weight, but they also showed a significantly higher reduction in body fat.
- Improved muscle mass retention
Because the Keto Diet’s focus is on fat burning rather than weight loss, the outcome can be a healthier and more visually appealing body shape with a lower fat level and better muscle retention.
- Stabilizes blood sugar & insulin levels
The Keto Diet’s limited carbohydrate allocation tends to stabilize blood sugar and keep it at a healthy level, while low carb, moderate protein, high-fat diets reduce insulin levels.
The health benefits of lower insulin include faster weight loss, less incidence of Type 11 diabetes, and a slowing of the aging process.
- Increased energy
When you eliminate saturated fat and processed foods from your diet, your energy level will rise. Your blood sugar level will be less prone to fluctuations, so you will not experience fatigue-inducing sugar crashes.
- The “feel good” factor
Many people who follow the Keto Diet report that along with having increased energy they feel better all around.
- Less sleep needed
Studies have shown that people who follow the Ketogenic meal plan function very well on less sleep. They also find it easier to wake up in the morning without feeling tired or groggy. The reason why this is the case is unclear.
One of the most common cons of the Keto Diet is that it results in a loss of water. This can lead to dehydration, and with dehydration, headaches can occur. The best way to prevent this is to salt your food.
You can also add 1/2 of a teaspoon of salt to 24 ounces of warm water and drink this throughout the day. If preferred, drink beef or vegetable broth.
- Sluggish digestion
Along with headaches, the dehydration that can result from a low carb eating plan can lead to constipation. To prevent this, eat plenty of fibrous, low-starch vegetables and drink at least eight glasses of water a day.
- Low carb flu
Many people who have undertaken the Keto Diet have reported suffering flu-like symptoms during the first week or so. This is simply a matter of the body detoxifying and adjusting to a new way of eating, and it will pass quickly.
- Can be challenging to maintain in social settings
If you plan on eating most of your meals at home for the duration of the diet, the diet isn’t that difficult to follow. However, you could have trouble finding suitable dining options when eating out.
Final Thought on the Pros & Cons of the Keto Diet for Weight Loss
A nourishing diet based on lean proteins, fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, healthy carbs, and “good” oils is the key to improved health. Combine it with regular cardio exercise and strength training, and you have the key to losing weight for life. It will take longer to reach your goal, but if you stick with it, you will get there. However, not everyone wants to wait.
No harm should come from following a Ketogenic meal plan for the short-term, but it is not something I’d recommend for an extended period. For a start, the fruit and vegetable allocation is too low to be considered healthy. Additionally, over time, high-fat diets can lead to heart disease, and they are linked to certain cancers.