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What is the keto diet?

The ketogenic “keto” diet is a high-fat, low-carb eating plan that promotes rapid weight loss. Its effectiveness is due to the biological change it creates on how our bodies create energy. 

For those on a traditional, carb-heavy diet, your body turns carbohydrates into glucose to use for fuel. What makes the Keto diet so different is that by limiting these carbohydrates, it forces our bodies to find a new energy source: fat. When our bodies transition into using fat, it converts it into “ketones” for fuel, replacing the glucose it can’t make anymore.

This process – called “ketosis” – is what makes the keto diet so efficient at weight loss. By using the fats you eat and its own fat stores as fuel, the body becomes a much more efficient fat-burning machine. 

There’s no doubt that the keto diet is effective, but because of this drastic change it has on your system, it is more intense than other diets. If you’re curious as to whether its right for you, read on as we explore the major pros and cons of the keto diet. 

Pros

Fat Loss

Instead of higher-carb diets that use “weight-loss” and “fat-loss” as interchangeable phrases, the keto diet focuses only on fat. This reduces muscle loss that can happen during other diets that rely on a broad, calorie-restriction strategy.

This makes the keto diet superior for targeting and eliminating visceral fat, a difficult area to attack on a high carb diet. This inflammatory fat surrounds the organs, increasing the risk of chronic heart disease and diabetes. (more info here and here)

Cognitive Benefits

The abundant supply of fatty acid makes the keto-diet especially very brain-friendly. Our brain relies on these fatty acids to function best, and typical diets typically don’t provide enough. Because of this, many people report clearer focus and increased mental energy after starting the keto diet.

Research has also shown that the keto diet can be effective for treating patients with concussion and memory issues. The ketones the brain uses for fuel are more efficient than glucose, allowing your brain to waste less energy and focus on cognitive tasks.

Increased Energy

New keto dieters frequently report increased energy that remains constant throughout the day. This is a result of eliminating glucose as our primary fuel source. By using ketones instead, you avoid the sugar spikes and crashes that come with glucose. This gives you a steady flow of available energy throughout the day.

Cons

Challenging to Follow

Unlike most diets, the keto-diet is an all or nothing lifestyle. You’re either in ketosis – burning fat – or you’re not. There is no halfway or in-between. This means that if you go over your carb limit, your body will convert back to using glucose for fuel, and you will fall out of ketosis.

To ensure you’re keeping your carbs under 50 grams a day, you need to carefully plan and analyze everything you eat to remain in ketosis. This can be time-consuming, and especially difficult if your partner or family is eating a traditional diet. 

Health Risks

Fruits and vegetables need to be restricted more than other diets because of keto’s strict carb allowance. This makes keto-dieters more likely to develop vitamin deficiencies. Its reliance on protein and fats also makes keto dieters gravitate towards more processed meats and meat products.

A 2015 announcement by the World Health Organization declared that processed meats have been linked to cancer. This is something to be mindful of if considering a veto diet. 

Not Eco-friendly

On a practical level, the keto diet is much easier to follow the more meat and dairy products you include. Unfortunately, this makes the keto-diet especially dependent on – and supportive of – factory farming. This industry has been proven to be a major contributor to air and water pollution.

Research has shown that 37% of the methane – a greenhouse gas – released into the atmosphere is from factory farming. Beef especially leaves a relatively large carbon footprint from farm to factory to grocery store.

Conclusion:

There is no doubt that the keto diet is effective, but its strict rules might make it more beneficial to some people than others. If you’re the type of person who would do better with a less intense diet, keto might not be for you. Remember, the best diet is the one you can stick with long-term.

Whether you do keto or not, it’s important to have diversity in your diet to maintain nutritional balance. You should never be sacrificing long-term health for short-term benefits. It may be more challenging in the short term, but your long-term health is worth it.

Thank you for reading! Knowledge is power, and learning is key to living a better life.

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