Every few months there pops up a ‘buzz word’ in the diet industry that seems to suddenly permeate a range of products, headlines of health blogs, and social media posts by, quote on quote, influencers. We have seen first hand the palpable effect this has on people’s lives; generally, with the diet taken on without adequate research and consultation with their health practitioners. Not necessarily recently, though certainly lingering, is the keto diet. The quick uptake of this diet, and others, is essentially the core of any professional hesitation around it, more than the diet itself (although, there are obviously highly problematic diets in the market). What we have found is that only the broad information about a diet will be taken on, making the diet ineffective, and even dangerous. So, we thought that we would take a deeper dive into what keto is, and what you should consider before adopting it.
How did the ketogenic diet start?
Keto, short for ketogenic and titled after ‘ketosis’, whereby your body enters a state of fat burning that produces ketones, using them for fuel in lieu of the energy one would normally derive from carbohydrates. This is achieved by significantly reducing carbohydrate intake, forcing the body to enter ketosis to survive. The keto diet was initially not used for weight loss purposes, but rather introduced as a treatment for epilepsy in the 1920s, including for children. However, in the hundred years since, it’s aesthetic effect on the body has piqued greater interest in the diet as a weight loss strategy.
What does the ketogenic diet do?
As mentioned, it’s a fairly quick process for getting your body to burn fat, by not introducing the carbohydrate option for energy. Your body must burn energy somewhere, and if you’re not giving it one option, it will seek it out elsewhere. When you take away or greatly minimise carbohydrates, the next port of call is fat. The burning of fat will, fairly quickly, minimise the dimensions of the body.
However, to ensure that energy levels are sustained, fat needs to be introduced at a greater level to counteract the loss of carbohydrates. This means the keto diet is typically much higher in fat than you will see for other dietary options, and while the dimensions of your body might be changing. High fat diet with low to no nutrients (such as too much fast food) can create undue pressure on the heart, the liver, the kidneys and even the brain. Not true, it is a great diet for the brain and used with brain cancer, this is also why it benefits those with epilepsy!
While the body doesn’t necessarily recognise ‘good’ fat and ‘bad’ fat, as such (high fat is high fat), some fats have greater benefits than other fats (some have no nutritional benefit). This is the difference between a moderate amount of avocado, compared to a Big Mac. This is where greater information on nutritional choices really matters. Eating a fast food burger without the bun might technically be keto, in a broad sense, but it will do your body far more damage than not.
Is the keto diet good or bad for you?
There is no hard and fast answer for this, as every body is different and nutritional choices should always be considered based on personal circumstances. However, there are common pros and cons considered for this diet and, more so, things to seriously consider.
While you may lose weight faster than with other options, how sustainable is this for your lifestyle, and how sustainable is it for optimal health?
Where are you getting your keto information from? If it’s not from a trained nutritional professional, this is something to explore before you go throwing out all the bread.
Are carbohydrates even having a negative effect on your body (in composition, and how you feel)? Is it something that will work for your body?
Do you feel aware of the differences in types of carbohydrates, and is it worth considering your energy sources before cutting them out completely?
Do you have other health conditions that make Keto a poor diet choice for you?
What are your motivations for taking on keto? Is it combined with a negative thought pattern about your body, which might be better tended to through mental health support?
All of these questions, of course, should not just be asked to your mirror. Your body is one of your greatest commodities to get the best out of life, and it’s important to seek professional assistance before taking on any great changes to how you nourish it.
If you have further questions about keto, or any nutrition and health matter, call our friendly and knowledgeable CK Health team to set up an obligation-free consultation today.