The ketogenic diet: Pros and Cons

“The keto diet burns fat, but still retains a very good caloric intake, allowing you to preserve muscle mass and a good metabolic rate. It is not for nothing that more and more people are choosing the keto diet. These are not just the principles of nutrition, this is a biohacking tool ”- these words can be read today in social networks of adherents of the keto diet. Is it really? Let's look at this question objectively and weigh the pros and cons

The essence of the ketogenic diet is to exclude carbohydrates as much as possible (and this is not just baked goods, pasta, sugar and its substitutes, but also honey, fruits, root vegetables, cereals and rice in any form). The diet allows a 5% carbohydrate quota due to berries, herbs and some vegetables.

For comparison: in the standard food pyramid, regulated by the World Health Organization as the basis of a balanced diet, a portion of carbohydrates can be up to 60%.

As you know, it is not safe to practice a protein diet, but where do you get your energy? The answer is in fats. You shouldn't be afraid of them; Cholesterol horrors, which frightened people throughout the XX century, in the XXI are regarded as intrigues of interested pharmaceutical companies. It is important to make a correction: we are talking about the right fats, rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, and not about juicy kebabs, margarine and trans fats, which are harmful to health.


Diet Principle

The body uses carbohydrates as the main fuel for the brain. With a sharp reduction in carbohydrates in the diet below 20 grams per day, the amount of glucose is critically reduced - and there is not enough energy for normal functioning and fat oxidation. To nourish the brain, the body starts the process of obtaining alternative energy - ketosis. This is a condition that develops as a result of carbohydrate starvation of cells, when the body begins to break down fat for energy to form a large number of ketone bodies. In the normal state, the concentration of ketone bodies in the blood is very low, since they are replaced by glucose and the body does not need additional energy. During ketosis, the concentration of ketone bodies rises sharply.

Ketosis can also be achieved by fasting for several days, but this is extremely harmful. The keto diet is an alternative to complete fasting that can cause less damage to the body. Together with food, we continue to receive all the necessary substances and do not experience hunger, excluding only carbohydrates and forcing the body to start the process of breaking down fats.

The keto diet has a pretty solid scientific base; she showed excellent results in children and adults with epilepsy - up to the disappearance of convulsive syndrome on the background of the withdrawal of anticonvulsants. It is effective for people with certain autoimmune diseases and Alzheimer's disease, as well as for people with cancer. The fact is that tumor cells "feed" on glucose, and according to studies, switching to a low-carbohydrate, but high-fat diet leads to regression of the tumor process.

Observations of patients adhering to this nutritional model have shown that, oddly enough, a person begins to feel a surge of energy, brain activity increases, and mood improves. The secret lies in biochemical processes: the body switches to new sources of energy - ketones, formed during the breakdown of fat.

The first popularizers of the keto diet were biohackers who wanted to live healthy and active to a ripe old age.

Hollywood stars joined them, and then the keto diet craze swept the world. Removing excess fat by consuming fats may simply be a challenge.

However, only an experienced dietitian should prescribe the keto diet. Not a diet consultant, not an Insta food blogger, not a nutritionist or keto adept. There are certain contraindications to this food system, for example, diabetes, chronic pancreatitis, cholecystitis, familial hyperlipidemia, and so on. In addition, at the beginning of the diet, when switching to other sources of energy, a complex adaptation of the body is common.


keto diet food pyramid

The main cons of the keto diet:

  • This is an unbalanced diet. When you completely eliminate carbohydrates, you lose a huge number of nutrients for the body.
  • Constipation tendency may occur. For the organs of the gastrointestinal tract, such a diet is not at all useful.
  • Acetone odor from body, urine and mouth may occur. To minimize odor, you should drink more than 2 liters of water per day to get more acetone out.
  • All carbohydrates are excluded, a process that is usually not so active is artificially triggered, the load on the liver is increased. This is quite unhealthy.

Key Benefits of the Keto Diet:

  • Rapid weight loss. The exclusion of carbohydrates from the diet does not allow the body to use substances as usual: to store fats "in reserve", and use carbohydrates as the main energy.
  • There is no constant feeling of hunger like with other diets. This means that there are no sharp jumps in blood sugar (the role of glucose is played by ketone bodies).
  • High calorie content is satiating and helps to avoid stalling.
  • Fats in the body are burned, and muscle mass is preserved.

For whom this type of diet is contraindicated:

  • pregnant;
  • people with diseases of the gastrointestinal tract;
  • people with type 1 and 2 diabetes mellitus;
  • people with endocrine pathologies;
  • breastfeeding

Is it really possible to lose weight on a keto diet?

The keto diet promotes weight loss, energizes and allows a person to stay full longer. The secret to increased satiety and energy levels lies in the fact that most of the calories come from fat, which is very nutritious and slow to digest. As a result, people on a keto diet consume fewer calories as they do not experience hunger attacks longer. They no longer need to eat as much or as often.

how to lose weight on a keto diet

Its main goal is to continuously maintain a person in a state of natural ketosis. It usually takes about four to eight weeks for a complete keto adaptation. After this time, the level of glycogen (glucose stored in your muscles and liver) will decrease, excess water will be released from the body, muscle endurance will increase, and the person will feel a powerful burst of energy. When you first start eating low-carb foods in the ketogenic diet, you will need to monitor your ketosis. This way you will know exactly what you are doing right and what is wrong, and whether you need to make any changes to your diet. The simplest test is the ketone breath test. After a couple of days, you will experience a fruity, slightly sour or even metallic taste in your mouth. What is the reason? While in ketosis, your body synthesizes ketone bodies: acetone, acetoacetate, and beta-hydroxybutyrate. Acetone is excreted in urine and respiration, which is the reason for the appearance of "ketone respiration". Typically, bad taste and bad breath diminish after a couple of weeks.

Diet Side Effects

Reducing the proportion of carbohydrates provokes a decrease in insulin levels in the blood, as a result, the kidneys receive a signal to release excess sodium. Between reducing your sodium intake and flushing out excess sodium deposits, your body releases more baking soda than normal, and as a result, sodium and other electrolyte levels drop. When this happens, you may experience fatigue, headache, cough, runny nose, irritability, and nausea. This condition is called the ketoplash. It is important to understand that it was not caused by the flu virus. Such a cold is neither dangerous nor infectious. The name in this case only reflects the similarity of symptoms. When signs of discomfort appear, many people get scared, thinking that the keto diet has negatively affected their health, and start eating carbohydrates again. In fact, the keto cold is a sign that your body has finally cleared out sugar, carbohydrates and industrial foods and is rebuilding itself to use fats for energy. Usually it lasts only a couple of days, this is how long it takes to adapt. You can relieve the condition by including more sodium and electrolytes in the diet, drinking more water.

In any case, before a diet, you need to consult with your doctor and during this period monitor your condition: blood biochemistry, blood pressure, the state of the cardiovascular system and the organs of the gastrointestinal tract.

It is important to emphasize the main thing: each person is different - with a special body structure, genetically inherited constitution, stress factors, level of physical activity and acquired eating habits, which have a tremendous impact on health.

So, the ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carb meal plan designed to put the body into a state called "ketosis" and burn stored fat. Designed for children with epilepsy, the celebrity keto diet has exploded in popularity in recent years.

However, already a year ago, most of the media questioned the benefits and even safety of this method of weight correction. The ketogenic diet is not a weight loss magic wand. Avoiding carbohydrates leads to an unbalanced diet (you deprive yourself of essential nutrients), headaches, weakness, and chills. And the keto diet can also cause a lipotoxic state, and as a result, provoke inflammation of the liver, gallbladder and strike the stomach. In the long term, it can increase the risk of atherosclerosis and insulin stroke.

Listen and study your body. And then you can, if you wish, quickly lose those extra pounds by choosing the best method of weight correction for yourself.