The keto diet (aka the ketogenic diet) has been making the rounds for a few years now and its popularity shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, when compared to Atkins, Paleo, and the South Beach diet, keto takes the lead in search engine queries by quite a bit. Its supporters include Hollywood stars, such as Halle Berry, Vinny Guadagnino (Jersey Shore), LeBron James, the Kardashians, Vanessa Hudgens, Victoria’s Secret Model Adriana Lima, among many others. And that’s not to mention the reams of Instagram posts on the topic – #keto 12.5million. With such popularity, it can be hard to imagine how something so well-known might actually not be the best idea. Whether you’re a lover of the keto diet or looking to get a little more insight before diving in, here we’ll uncover why the keto is bad for you and what you need to know before undertaking this diet.
What is the keto diet and what does it do to your body?
The keto diet is an eating plan that encourages following a diet of a high amount of fats (preferably healthy ones such as avocado) (approx. 75%), a moderate level of protein (approx 20%) and a low amount of carbs (approx 5%).
To produce energy, the body usually uses carbohydrates, which are converted to glucose to power your system. The keto diet reduces the amount of carbs, almost eliminating from the equation. So, what happens to your body? How does it get energy?
If we travel deep inside your vital organs, all the way to your liver, we’ll see an interesting process occurring. After a period of time (it’s different for everyone) without carbs or with very low carbs, your body will enter a process of ketosis. Meaning your liver creates ketones (your systems new fuel) from fat molecules and uses them to give you strength.
Sounds great – no after-pasta nap, no carb belly and fat burning to boot. What could possibly go wrong?
5 reasons why keto is bad for you
Keto fans boast that the diet can reduce body fat, manage insulin levels, improve memory and focus, and boost exercise efficiency. Done right, under supervision, and for a short time, it can be, however, taking keto to extremes or going in underprepared can lead to these worrying consequences:
1. Fast weight loss might be the goal, but it wasn’t the intention.
Let’s take a trip back in time. The keto diet first arose in the 1920s, long before the celebrity hype. Initially, doctors used the keto plan to treat young patients with epilepsy. Proving somewhat effective, this method because less and less used with medical advancements in anti-epilepsy medications, although it is still used today where medicines have proved ineffective.
Even this is done under control circumstances; patients prescribed a keto diet need to be reviewed regularly to ensure they are not deficient in other elements, with the risks outweighing the benefits. Here the warning bells should start to ring. Restrictive diets require careful monitoring and should not be taken lightly, meaning the keto diet might be a bad idea as a weight loss plan.
2. Feeling ill instead of energized
As we said, when you start out on keto, it might take a couple of days for it to really work depending on your previous diet and metabolism, but when it does, you’ll know about it. Enter Keto “flu.” This is one of the most noted negative effects of the keto diet that can leave you feeling exhausted, lightheaded, sleep deprived, and constipated due to your new dietary decisions.
It won’t last forever, but as your body adjusts you might be left with these flu-like symptoms for between 1 to 3 weeks, which can put a dampener on your work and exercise plans for the time being.
3. It might not be worth it
When you restrict certain food groups from your diet, you run into two main issues – one, it will be too hard to maintain and, two, once you start eating more normally again, you will regain everything you lost.
Quick weight regain is a common feature of many restrictive diets. This is because, initially, most of the weight you lose will be water weight, followed by muscle loss, and this isn’t a great long-term solution, as the moment you start eating normally again, it’ll all come back. Making this a pretty huge negative of the keto diet.
4. You will probably not get enough of everything
Your body is a carefully built ecosystem that needs to be maintained with numerous elements and minerals to keep it functioning in tip-top condition. While keto aims to cut out carbohydrates, you need to be extra attentive that you don’t unintentionally miss your other nutrients. In particular pay attention to selenium, magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamins, without these, you could suffer a number of problems from muscle cramps to constipation to problems sleeping and even heart health issues.
5. Looking in the long-term
Little is known about the long-term effects of keto; perhaps it wasn’t studied well enough for its weight-loss potential or perhaps we need time to tell on that one. What is clear, however, is that other low carb diets do have some lasting side effects, and not the good kind. Studies show that in the long-term, low carb diets can cause strain to the heart, impact the bones with osteoporosis, damage your kidneys, and actually impair physical activity. Is this a risk worth taking?
To keto or not to keto?
Keto might have some redeeming factors, but, on the whole, it is another extreme diet. Unless you are under the advice of a doctor or nutritionist to try it, we’d place it strongly in the best-avoided category. That said, if you are driven to reduce your carbs and want to do so in a health, non-extreme way, may we suggest instead opting for more nutritional options instead.
Try these top switches for traditional carbs to boost your health and maintain a sustainable diet:
- Spaghetti for squash or zucchini noodles
- Mashed potatoes for cauliflower
- Rice for quinoa or buckwheat
- Crackers for veggie dippers
- Regular wraps for lettuce or cabbage wraps.