There are thousands of keto groups on Facebook, and when you are looking for resources and inspiration to support your own weight-loss journey, you’ll find plenty of examples of individuals who have lost weight (and kept it off) thanks to the Ketogenic diet.
The before and after pictures of dramatic weight loss are impressive! And it can be very exciting to see so many success stories, that motivate you to try that specific nutritional science. The recipes are pretty fascinating, and a quick glance over some of the keto-friendly recipes shows a lot of high-protein and high-fat options. Bacon wrapped everything! Or at least, that is how it seems.
But while there is no contesting that millions of people have lost a significant amount of weight on the Ketogenic Diet, it is more complex than simply eating a diet of carbohydrate free proteins. In fact, Cardiologists and nutritional experts are sounding an alarm. The answer to weight-loss isn’t surviving on a diet that is high in saturated fats; and there are some significant health risks that some of the most vocal supporters of the Keto Diet are not talking about.
Why the Keto Diet Conflicts with Long-Term and Balanced Nutritional Needs
Let’s start with some of the good things about the Keto Diet. In North America, we tend to lean toward high-carbohydrate foods. Since the diet restricts carbohydrates to 25 grams per day, it is almost entirely comprised of plants and proteins. How much is 25 grams of carbohydrates? Consider that one slice of commercial white bread, may have 15-18 carbs.
Some of the benefits that people experience on the Keto Diet include:
When you are not consuming carbohydrates, you are breaking the cycle of consuming carbs, elevating your blood glucose (sugar) levels, and then the nasty crash and fatigue that follows. Part of our contemporary struggle to regulate our body weight is due to that cycle; and since we can’t afford to feel tired or groggy in our busy day, we fuel up again with carbohydrates.
Eating more protein and fats keeps you satisfied longer. Reducing carbohydrates means your body has to change its preference to source fat (instead of sugar) for energy. You lose inches if you follow the strict weight-loss diet fairly quickly, which is encouraging to people who have struggled to lose weight or maintain a healthy body weight for years.
The following foods are restricted on the Ketogenic Diet:
A dietician or nutritionist would quickly point out, that many of the foods on the Keto diet are actually important for good health. For instance, while lentils, beans and legumes are starchy and heavy on carbohydrates, they also provide valuable fiber that your body needs.
Foods like bananas also have carbohydrates, but they are an excellent source of potassium, which is essential to help regulate fluid balance (reduce water retention), reduce hypertension, support nerve messaging and many other important functions in the body.
Many of the proteins sourced for the keto diet are high in trans-fats and saturated fats. Trans-fat foods should be avoided as they contribute to cardiovascular and circulatory health issues, increasing the risk factors for heart and stroke.
Talk to your physician if you are considering the Keto Diet as part of a temporary weight-loss strategy, to reduce abdominal fat. But for a long-term solution, consider the importance of balancing fresh fruits and vegetables, natural fibers and foods with HDL cholesterol as part of your healthy new lifestyle and dietary habits.