The ketogenic diet is really blowing up these days. More and more people are wondering what it is and if it’s something they should consider for their weight loss and health goals. I’ve created this post to share my opinions on the pros and cons of the ketogenic way of eating!
The keto diet requires you to eat a very low amount of carbs (20 net carbs or less per day is the general rule of thumb), a moderate amount of protein, and a moderate to high amount of fat. The goal is to switch your body into a state of ketosis which is going from burning glucose for energy, to burning stored body fat for energy.
I will start by saying that these are a mix of facts and opinions that I have learned and developed by personally trying the ketogenic diet and by absorbing tons of information from various online and hard copy resources. I am not a doctor and I am not a registered dietician.
It’s ultimately up to you to decide if the ketogenic diet is something you would like to try. However, you should probably consult your physician if you decide to try it out. We all have different bodies and we all vary in the ways that we respond to certain diets.
Just because there are more pros than cons does not mean you should try keto. Some cons outweigh some of the pros, and vise versa.
Ultimately, it is up to you to decide what works and feels best for your body.
Rapid Weight Loss
When we want to lose weight, we want to lose it as quick as possible! If you’re trying to slim down for a special event in a short amount of time, keto might be the option for you! Some people can lose 10 or more pounds in the first week. It sounds too good to be true right? That’s why rapid weight loss is also a con of the keto diet.
If you stick with it, it will work
Just like any other health plan, you have to stick with it to see results. You’re not going to see results if you stick with it for a few weeks then eat like crap for a week. You have to be committed and consistent! If you stick with it, you’ll see results!
Feel full throughout the day
The keto diet emphasizes the consumption of healthy fats. This is unlike many other ways of eating. For example, if you type your information into a macro calculator, the recommended macros for fat are likely the lowest. This doesn’t mean that counting macros or if it fits your macros (IIFYM) isn’t the right way to go, because that method of fat loss is also effective! The following is a quote from an article published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition:
“The 2013 American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines and The Obesity Society reviewed the available evidence-based literature with regard to the macronutrient content of diets and their health benefits and concluded that weight loss was similar with all types of diets as long as the diets achieved similar calorie restriction.”
This quote ultimately says that all methods of weight loss are effective as long as you consume less calories than you burn.
However, when you eat a keto diet, you are eating more fat. This is encouraged because your body burns fat for fuel on the ketogenic diet. Instead of burning glucose (which comes from sugar and carbs) for energy, the body burns fat. The other encouragement for healthy fats is due to the fact that fat foods are more filling and keep you satisfied longer. Fat is the last macronutrient to be digested, so it stays in your stomach longer, taking you feel full longer. Eating fat also releases hormones telling the body that it is satisfied and full.
Thus, when eating on a keto diet you can eat good quality peanut butter, good quality fatty meats such as bacon and beef, you can eat your vegetables with a tablespoon of good quality butter. You can even eat a ton of cheesecake so long as you make it with the allowed sugar and crust ingredients such as the ones used in THIS RECIPE!
Eat fattier foods that tend to be “off limits”
Eat foods that are typically off limits on a low fat diet such as: good quality peanut butter, bacon, beef, buttered vegetables, fatty treats such as cheesecake made with swerve sugar substitute, heavy whipping cream, cheese, and more.
Encourages eating high quality foods
The keto diet encourages you to eat high quality foods such as organic produce and local, farm raised meats. I personally really like this idea in general. Whether you eat a keto diet, or any other diet, it is always a good idea to eat organic foods and local, farm raised foods. Doing so will not only benefit you, but it will also benefit local businesses, and you can have some relief knowing that the animals are probably treated humanely.
Increased energy & focus
One of the major benefits of the keto diet in my opinion is the increased energy and focus that occurs. If you are accustomed to a high carb, sugary diet, you will definitely notice this side effect if you significantly cut down your processed and sugar filled foods. Your energy won’t fluctuate so much throughout the day.
This is both a pro and a con because sometimes it requires rigid guidelines for somebody to be successful. This tends to be the case for me actually. I feel that where I’m at now, I need strict guidelines to abide by, otherwise I end up having little self control when it comes to food. It’s something I am trying to improve on.
Rapid Weight Loss
Rapid weight loss is also a con because when we lose weight rapidly, it’s very likely not fat. It is more likely water and food that we have lost. I heard on the Nutrition Diva podcast that the faster we lose weight, the less likely that it’s fat, and the more likely we will gain it back.
Restrictive & Rigid
I’ve noticed that restricting a certain food group has become a big no-no among the nutrition community. Some may say that it gives the impression that food controls you. It gives the impression of a bad relationship with food. Something that restriction definitely contributes to is bingeing. I have experienced this first hand. I have restricted myself before and ended up bingeing on multiple bowls of cereal and junk food.
When you start the keto diet, you will most likely experience the keto flu. This is when your body is essentially detoxing from all the sugar, and switching over to burning fat for energy. The side effects can include headache, lethargy, fogginess, and more. It is recommended to supplement with potassium, magnesium, and sodium in order to help with these symptoms.
Difficult to socialize/eat at special events
It’s difficult to enjoy special events as much on the keto diet because so many things have carbs and sugar in them. For example, you wouldn’t be able to eat a traditional piece of birthday cake without getting out of ketosis. You couldn’t go to a pizza party. You can’t get an ice cream cone on a hot summer day.
Very dirty/processed these days
I’ve noticed that keto has become very “dirty” and processed lately. I see so many people trying this way of eating and posting photos of Mcdonald’s burgers without the buns, giant bacon cheeseburgers with absurd amounts of cheese, just a bunch of low-carb junk really. In my opinion, if you’re going to try keto, try sticking to more vegetables, healthier meat choices such as fish and chicken, and reduce your consumption of the more processed low-carb foods.
I hope you have learned something of value from this post! I would love to hear your feedback about the ketogenic diet in the comments! If you made it this far, thank you so much for reading!