Are you looking for a new diet to try? So many people have been asking about the Keto Diet and debating it’s effectiveness. But the question still stands, how healthy is the Keto Diet? Like everything in life, this diet comes with a number of risks as well as benefits. So here is a quick, crash-course of the Keto Diet to help you decide if it is right for you!
Keto Diet For Beginners
With any diet that you decide to start, you should first understand what the diet is and how it works! At its core, the Keto Diet is a low-carb diet that replaces carbohydrates with fats. This is meant to put your body into a metabolic state called “Ketosis”. Our bodies naturally gain energy from the glucose in carbs. During Ketosis, however, you are training your body to burn fat instead. This is why many people use Keto for weight loss.
According to health.harvard.edu it takes the average person about two to four days of eating less than 20 to 50 grams of carbohydrates per day to get into Ketosis. This means taking sugars and starches out of your diet and replacing them with foods that are higher in fat such as meats and eggs. Studies have shown that the Keto Diet lowers blood sugar and insulin levels as well. But, as I mentioned before, this diet can go both ways.
What Are The Positive Effects of A Keto Diet?
The Keto Diet diet has been found to be problematic when it is not done correctly. Therefore, it is important to take into account both possibilities. I took the liberty of listing out a couple of the benefits and risks of the Keto Diet according to research:
Positive Effects of Keto:
- Rapid Weight Loss – Found to be more effective than a low-fat diet, reducing your carb intake and eating more fats and proteins helps to curb your appetite. Because it is more filling, people following the Keto Diet eat less calories without struggling with hunger.
- Improved Blood Sugar and Insulin Levels – This is helpful for those with those struggling with diabetes. According to an article from healthline.com, one particular study showed 95% of those with type 2 diabetes reduced or completely eliminated their medications in just 6 months of dieting.
- Reduce Symptoms of Some Brain Disorders – Studies have shown the Keto Diet is effective in reducing epileptic seizures in children. This is a result of the production of ketones that happens when cutting your carb intake. Research is also exploring the possibility that this diet can help to reduce or slow the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease as well as autism, brain cancer, and some sleep disorders.
- Potentially Lowers Blood Pressure – Restricting your carb intake has the potential to lower your blood pressure which can lower your risk of serious health issues such as heart disease or kidney failure.
What Are The Negative Effects of A Keto Diet?
Negative Effects of Keto:
- “Keto Flu” – This lasts for just a few days during the time that your body is adjusting to burn fat for energy instead of carbs. Many people feel sick when their body enters ketosis, experiencing fatigue and a lack of energy along with a slight headache and possible gastrointestinal issues.
- Ketoacidosis – Too many ketones can make your blood acidic and cause ketoacidosis, especially in those with diabetes. Therefore, despite how helpful it may be to those with diabetes, anyone on keto must be careful to check their blood sugar levels constantly.
- Weight Gain – I mentioned in one of my previous articles, “How to Have a Healthy Relationship With Food”, that we should be careful not to put strict restrictions on food. This is also true for cutting out carbs. The strict nature of the keto diet helps to lose weight fast but it is extremely difficult to maintain which often means people regain all the weight they lost in the first place.
- Nutrient Deficiencies – Cutting out carbs may lead to deficiencies in vitamins and minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, and vitamin D, etc.. With the lack of calcium, you may be at higher risk for kidney stones.
- Increased Risk of Diabetes and other Diseases – Although I talked about the ways that keto (done right) can help to reduce the effects of both these things, if done incorrectly keto can have the reverse effect. For people with type 1 diabetes, keto can cause serious health problems if they are consuming too much insulin. Always consult a doctor if you have a medical condition.
Side effects are a common occurrence
What To Eat On The Keto Diet
Since the biggest problem with keto seems to be that it is, too often, done incorrectly, here are some examples of what you should eat on the keto diet. A low-carb, high-fat diet calls for:
- Fish and other seafood: some shellfish, like shrimp, as well as salmon and other fish options are a good source of b vitamin and potassium
- Meat: red meat, chicken, sausages, and other fresh meat (grass-fed meats are preferred)
- Eggs: contain less than 1 gram of carbs and can be prepared many different ways
- Low-Carb Vegetables: broccoli, asparagus, avocado, and cauliflower are among the most popular low-carb options, but be sure to look at the net carb count (carbs – fiber = net carbs)
- Cheese: goat cheese, mozzarella, provolone, parmesan, and feta are a few examples of cheeses that are low in carbs but high in saturated fat
- Coconut or Olive Oil: coconut oil helps to increase ketone levels and help with weight loss while olive oil provides antioxidants and other health benefits
- Certain Nuts: almonds, brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, pecans and walnuts have lower carbs, while seeds like chia, flax, and pumpkin seeds are also great options
- Berries: strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries (in smaller portions) are low in carbs and full of antioxidants
- Butter, Greek Yogurt, and Cottage Cheese: these fatty dairy products are low in carbs and great for keto
- Coffee and Tea: caffeine speeds up your metabolism and helps to curb your appetite, just be careful to not add sweetener or high-carb syrups
It is important not to load up on too much bacon, butter or processed cheeses. In order to experience the full benefits of keto, you should make sure you are still getting a good amount of the vitamins and nutrients that your body needs. It is also helpful to consult with your doctor before changing your diet around so drastically. Making sure your body gets everything that it needs when you eat is what’s most important!
Supplements are not required but could be beneficial while on a Keto Diet. Here are some supplements that could help: whey, creatine, minerals, MCT oil, caffeine and exodenous ketones. Look for more articles regarding adding supplements to your diet. I’ve included some books below that can help guide you through the process.
Have your Keto Diet meals delivered to your door (only in Florida) and make it convenient while your learning the diet, try the meal plan below:
I hope my article on How Healthy is the Keto Diet answers some of the many questions that people ask. If you have had an experience with the Keto Diet please share in the comments below. I would love to hear from you!!
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