In a society that’s obsessed with getting and staying slim, it’s not surprising that new diet fads are mushrooming every day. For those seeking the Holy Grail of diets, practically anything new on the market is fair game – and often, therein lies the problem.
It’s actually pretty difficult for anyone to decide which diet is the best for their body and their specific needs. Among the diets currently making a buzz the world over is the keto diet. If you don’t know exactly what that is yet, this guide will help you to understand what it is and make up your mind about whether you want to follow it.
What is it?
The keto diet takes its name from a natural process known as ketosis, which occurs when the body is placed in survival mode – as can happen when our food intake is low. The body produces ketones that result from the breaking down of fats in the liver. What the keto diet basically does is forces the body into this state in order to cut out the fat. It’s key to note that this is done not through starvation per se, but more specifically, through cutting out carbohydrates.
You see, when you ingest something high in carbohydrates, the body produces both glucose and insulin. Glucose is the simplest to break down and use as energy, and so is prioritized by the body for its needs. Insulin is a regulator that processes glucose by shunting it throughout your body. Fats accumulate when you are unable to burn off this energy, as the body assumes it will be stored for later use. With each intake of more carbs, the glucose produced is again prioritized — leaving the fats unburned.
So, is this all ultimately good for you?
1. A keto diet lowers insulin levels.
As we mentioned, insulin is what’s solely responsible for moving glucose from the bloodstream to the muscles and tissues of the body. While this is a necessary function within the body’s nutrient cycle, there are some risks involved with overly high levels of insulin, the most prominent of these being increased inflammation.
Because a ketogenic diet works to limit insulin, it can be tangentially correlated that the diet can also be effective at treating inflammation across the body.
2. A keto diet promotes weight loss.
Your average carb- and sugar-heavy diet contributes to a lot of water retention which is one reason why we look and feel ‘fatter’ than we are. Because a keto diet cuts all of that out, you experience very real weight loss. But that’s just one side of the coin. The other side is that you also experience feelings of fullness because the diet promotes more fat ingestion as well as a greater balance of blood sugar levels. Overall, this means that a keto diet leaves you looking and feeling slimmer.
1. A keto diet is tough to follow.
One of the biggest downsides of a keto diet is that it requires intensive and careful planning, given that carbs make up a great portion of many of our modern-day meals. The very specific requirements of this diet (70% fat, 10% carbohydrates and 15% protein) per meal makes that task tougher than one would think. Another indirect downside here is that sustaining the weight loss is just as difficult because it requires conscientious effort to pull things off exactly right.
2. A keto diet risks a lot too.
Quality of foods is one major challenge of the keto diet. There is, after all, a huge chance of unknowingly ingesting a lot of non-healthy fats in your everyday diet. While the exclusion of carbohydrates makes the eating of foods with highly saturated animal fats less of a danger, it’s still quite a risk to take. In addition, the overall diet is also fairly low on fiber—a necessary component of a healthy gut. That’s because many of the foods containing the essential fibers needed also contain the carbs that this diet excludes.
If you want to go for a keto diet, it’s key that you are meticulous in planning it all out. Maximize on the healthiest fats by going for eggs, almonds, and some avocado. Complement those with a healthy intake of greens and go for organic or grass-fed options where possible. And finally, drink a lot of water! If you’re careful, you can certainly reap the benefits that this diet has to offer.
Sandy Getzky is the executive coordinating editor at The Global Nail Fungus Organization, a group committed to helping the 100+ million people suffering from finger and toenail fungus. Sandy is also a registered Herbalist and member of the American Herbalist’s Guild.