Keto 101: Is It Right For You?
A quick google search will reveal that the keto diet can be a great for weight loss as well as several other benefits including: lowered blood sugar and insulin levels, decreased triglycerides, reduced blood pressure, boosted brain power and improved athletic ability, all in addition to being helpful for more serious health issues like epilepsy, cancer and Parkinson’s! And while for most, the quick weight loss (which is mainly fat loss) and reduced hunger certainly sound pretty great, the diet requires following strict guidelines, which for some people, isn’t sustainable in the long term. Below we’ve outlined the main premise and requirements so that you can evaluate if the eating style will be a good fit for you.
The keto diet includes a high fat, low carb and moderate protein intake. Generally the macronutrient ratios are distributed at 75%, 5% and 20% respectively. The high fat, low carb eating is a fairly major shift from the standard diet, and usually only includes anywhere from 20-50g carbs/day depending on the person.
Because of the way the body processes its energy, the shift away from using regular glucose from carbs as a fuel source towards using fat as a fuel source actually mimics starvation and induces a metabolic state known as “ketosis”. What’s actually happening when you’re in ketosis is that your the body adapts to using a new source of energy by having the liver convert fat to ketones.
Unlike many diets, keto has a a lot of good science behind it which is continuing to grow as the academic interest continues to peak. One study, for example, shows the beneficial effects of a long-term ketogenic diet as it significantly reduced the body weight and body mass index of the patients in addition to decreases in triglycerides, LDL cholesterol and blood glucose, and increased the level of HDL cholesterol . Other research demonstrates that the type of specific weight loss on a ketogenic diet is mostly body fat, including the more dangerous or unhealthy type of fat known as ‘visceral’ fat.
Many regular “healthy” carb-containing foods like grains, fruits, legumes and some vegetables are omitted from the diet in favour of high fat foods like meat, fish, cheese, eggs, healthy oils, nuts, seeds and low carb veggies (leafy greens, peppers, onions, cucumbers etc.). For some, this all sounds appealing but the truth is that most of your meals will be focused on low carbohydrate vegetables, fats, healthy oils and a moderate serving of protein.
So far so good?
If the limiting of carbs and upping the fat seems like a good eating style for you, before jumping in head first, ask yourself if any of these issues apply to you.
Do you have issues with blood sugar?
While reducing carbs from processed foods is good for any diet, a highly carb-restricted diet can negatively affect those people with Type 1 diabetes or those with other blood sugar related conditions.
Do you have thyroid issues?
The keto diet may suppress thyroid hormones which may actually be beneficial for some conditions. That said, some people report common symptoms of thyroid problems like brain fog, sleep issues and mood swings while on the keto diet.
Do you have gallbladder issues?
The gallbladder is responsible for supporting the digestion of fat – so if it’s been removed or you’ve had other complications, keto is not advised.
Are you prone to constipation?
With the minimal fibre from vegetables, whole grains and legumes on the keto diet, some people may find it hard on the digestive system.
Are you pregnant or nursing?
Although there isn’t much research to date, it’s thought that more protein and fibre than what is offered on the keto diet is most beneficial for fetal growth and the development of baby.
Do you have kidney issues?
If there are any health concerns or family history around the kidneys they should be flagged to a doctor before going on the diet. Kidney stones are also considered a risk factor on this diet.
Does it fit with your lifestyle?
Any way you look at it, the diet is pretty hard to follow for most people because it’s a major shift away from a “typical” style of eating. That said, if you can survive the initial weeks-long period of the “keto flu” as your body gets “fat adapted”, it’ll be important to ask: how will you be able to truly adopt this eating style in real world settings? How will you manage eating out? Snacks? Social Events? Shifting strategies for meal preparation and planning meals in advance will most definitely become part of being compliant on this diet!
If you’ve gone keto to cut the fat, don’t forget that you need to ensure your supplement program is on point too. Head in to a Reflex location near you so we can provide you with the best supplements to support your goals! Follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. We are #ReflexNation.