The Pros and Cons of a Keto Diet

By Gemma Creagh - Last update


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Could this protein-rich food plan help your weight loss? The keto diet is a fitness phenomenon which, in recent years, has crossed over to the mainstream, taking the international world by storm. Celebrities swear by it; everyone from Kourtney Kardashian to Gwyneth Paltrow to Vanessa Hudgens, all claim to have used the keto diet to lose pounds. However, do the health benefits stack up? Here at Nightcourses.com, we investigate the pros and cons, so you can make up your own mind when it comes to this controversial weight loss programme.

What is Keto?

The meal plan you follow is not dissimilar to the Atkins programme, which rose to fame in the nineties. The ketogenic diet is made up of a low-carb eating plan, which mainly functions by helping you burn fat more effectively. On this programme, you are restricted to 20 – 50 grams of carbohydrates per day. However, you are free to fill up with limited veg, some protein and plenty of fats. After a few days on this diet, you go into what is known as ‘ketosis’.

What the keto diet does, is to force your body into using a different type of fuel. Instead of relying on the sugar that comes from carbohydrates, you instead use ketone bodies, which are the fuel that your liver produces from stored fat. When your insulin levels become low, fat burning increases dramatically, burning off your stores of fat.

The Benefits

What’s important to note is that this diet is relatively new and most scientific studies have only investigated the short-term effects. If you are unsure whether or not this plan is suitable for you, chat with your doctor.

  • Less Hunger

What sets the keto diet apart from other eating plans, is that you never really go hungry. Because of the nature of the foods that you’ll be eating, lots of fats and some protein, you will constantly feel satiated.

  • Lose Weight… Fast

The majority of people use this diet to lose excess weight and the results can be quite dramatic. Be prepared to shed pounds quickly in your first few days/weeks of starting the plan.

  • Lower Blood Sugar

If you reduce your carb consumption, you lower your blood sugar, which in turn may treat, and possibly even reverse, type 2 diabetes.

  • Get Rid of Unhealthy Fat

Not all fat is created equal. There are two main types: subcutaneous fat, which is under your skin, and visceral fat, which is the deep abdominal fat that surrounds your organs. This is particularly dangerous and can be associated with inflammation and insulin resistance. The keto diet is particularly effective in getting rid of visceral fat.

  • Reduce Symptoms of Diseases/Disorders.

Avoiding spikes in blood sugar helps your concentration levels to remain constant. In fact, a low carb diet has been known to improve symptoms of ADHD and has been used for decades to treat epilepsy in children who don’t respond to drug treatment. Studies suggest it can also abate symptoms of other neurological issues such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

The Risks

Since the full effects of a ketogenic diet have yet to be researched, it’s very important to be aware of potential issues that can arise. Monitor your own health and speak with your doctor if you have any doubts. You should also be very cautious considering this diet if you take medication for diabetes, e.g. insulin; if you have high blood pressure or are presently pregnant or breastfeeding.

  • High in Saturated Fats

This meal plan is very high in saturated fat. The recommended amount of your intake of saturated fats shouldn’t exceed 7% of your daily calories. This could negatively affect your cholesterol or heart health. Also, Some people also experience increased heart rate as a side effect of ketosis. This is also called heart palpitations or a racing heart and can happen during the first few weeks.

  • Vitamin Deficiency

On the Keto diet, your intake of fresh fruit or vegetables is extremely limited. It’s important that you ensure you get your recommended daily allowance of nutrients through supplements or you run the risk of becoming run down or sick.

  • Liver/Kidney Functions

With so much fat and protein to metabolize, this could be a problem for people with liver or kidney issues. The kidneys help metabolize protein, while the liver breaks down the fat. Maintaining this eating regime could, in theory, put both under strain.

  • Constipation

When you limit your intake of fresh fruit and veg, you also restrict the fiber you ingest. Plus, it’s hard to eat enough healthy bacteria to aid with the digestion process.  The factors can often lead to keto practicers getting ‘backed up’.

  • Keto Flu

Many people report feeling groggy and/or dizzy for the first few days on this diet. It’s a sugar hangover of sorts and generally passes. It can, however, make it hard to focus at times.

At the end of the day, no diet is worth sacrificing your physical health. If you choose to practice keto, make sure you stay informed and safe, and never go against the advice of any medical professional.

 


Gemma Creagh

Gemma is a nomadic writer, filmmaker, & journalist. She was born in Cork, lives in Dublin, and studied in Belfast & Galway, where she graduated from NUIG’s Writing MA. She has penned articles for national publications and is the editorial assistant for Film Ireland Magazine. Gemma was the writer and co-producer of the five-part comedy ‘Rental Boys’ for RTÉ’s Storyland. Her short films have screened at festivals around the world.
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