Many Americans are hopping on the diet trend train to lose weight fast. They may skip meals, eat low-fat and low-sugar foods, eliminate complex carbs entirely, or even take weight-loss supplements.
With so many competing diet trends, it can be difficult to decide which diets are truly healthy for us. The KETO diet, which is the most recent diet craze, is actually not a new idea.
For medicinal purposes, the KETO diet was used to treat drug-resistant epilepsy. In the 1970s, Dr. Atkin’s popularized the low carb diet for weight loss, which involved KETO methods. Other diet fads have developed with similarly incorporated KETO diet approaches to weight loss.
Despite these facts, however, this still begs the real question – is the KETO diet good or bad for you? Let’s take a look at some other facts to answer this question.
What is the KETO Diet?
The KETO diet describes eating foods that are rich in proteins and fats while being low in carbohydrates. Typically, it includes plenty of meat, cheeses, eggs, fish, nuts, oils, seeds, and fibrous vegetables.
The KETO diet causes the body to release ketones into the bloodstream. Because most cells prefer to use blood sugar from carbohydrates as the body’s main source of energy, those that are on the KETO diet must gain energy somehow. In the absence of circulating blood sugar from carbs, the body breaks down stored fat into molecules called ketone bodies. This process is known as “ketosis,” hence the “KETO.”
The KETO diet is great for the short term, though is not ideal for the long term. Carbohydrates normally account for at least 50% of the typical American diet. This may seem like a lot, but we need carbs as our source of energy. Without carbs in our diet, we may find ourselves fatigued, lethargic, and feeling as if we’re running on fumes.
These side effects may turn people off the KETO diet, especially when considering it for the long term. However, if you’re interested in weight loss, you may what to try the KETO diet for the first couple of weeks before transitioning back to a carbohydrate diet.
What Are Some KETO-Friendly Foods?
When first starting the KETO diet, you want to gradually reduce your carb intake to approximately 20 grams of carbs for the first 2 – 6 weeks. Your goal should be to allow your body to adjust to this fat-burning process.
Some KETO-friendly foods include:
- Fish and seafood
- Poultry (chicken, duck, turkey)
- Lead red meats
- Plain yogurt and cottage cheese (2% and 4% fat)
- Vegetable oils
- Vegetables (cauliflower, peppers, spinach, kale, arugula, and zucchini)
Avoid foods that are high in carbohydrates when starting the KETO diet. High-carb foods include:
- Cow’s milk
- Added sweetener (sugar, honey, and agave)
- Dry beans and legumes
Health Benefits of the KETO Diet
The KETO diet has highly effective weight loss benefits, including the reduction of excess body fat.
For those with type 2 diabetes, the KETO diet is the perfect weight loss plan. After all, it incorporates a low-carb eating plan that promises effective weight loss while also lowering blood sugar. The KETO diet is a widely known weight loss trend that may even reverse the effects of type 2 diabetes. It also can help reduce systemic inflammation.
The process of ketosis, which happens in those on the KETO diet, has experienced some brain-protecting benefits along with their weight loss. Approximately 50% of young adults with epilepsy have had fewer seizures after following the diet.
Some more controversial studies have shown that the KETO diet can lower cholesterol levels after a short period of time. However, there isn’t any long-term research available to analyze the effects as of yet.
Is the KETO Diet Right For You?
There are many great health benefits of the KETO diet, as explained earlier. On the other note, there are some health risks to consider.
Because the KETO diet involves eating foods that are super low in carbohydrates, the diet may exude side effects. These side effects include headaches, constipation, lethargy, fatigue, nausea, and bad breath. Cutting out certain foods makes it difficult to meet your micronutrient needs, which can cause acute malnutrition.
The question of “is the KETO diet good or bad for you” is best answered by your doctor. If you struggle to lose weight and are unsure if the KETO diet will work for you, at least for the short term, then weigh the pros and cons with your primary physician.