Ketogenic Diet – Good or Bad?
I decided to spend today and the next few days talking about different popular dietary theories. Today we’ll look at the good and the bad aspects of the ketogenic diet, or Keto as some call it.
Atkins in the beginning
This theory has been around for many years, popular in the 1960s and 70s and started by cardiologist Dr. Robert Atkins. If you’re as old as I am, you’ll likely remember the Atkins Diet from back then. It was the program that allowed you eat all the bacon, eggs, cheese, steaks, burgers (no bun) you wanted.
The idea was that, by eating all protein and very few, if any, carbs, you would go into a state of ketosis. Ketosis occurs when you don’t have adequate glucose for energy, causing your body to burn your fat stores.
You had to make sure you had plenty of mouthwash, because being in ketosis gives you bad breath. There are other unpleasant side effects of being in ketosis. You can develop headaches, dizziness, constipation, diarrhea, and nausea.
I remember trying Atkins in the old days, when it was all meat and very few veggies. I felt awful, couldn’t move my bowels for days at a time, and couldn’t brush my teeth enough to get the bad taste out of my mouth from the ketosis. Needless to say, I didn’t last long on that program.
The Ketogenic Diet used today is a little less restrictive and allows some low starch fruits and vegetables but the goal is to put the body in ketosis. Ketosis can be very unpleasant for several days, leaving the person to experience the ‘keto flu’. That’s the nausea, constipation, headache and lack of focus that goes along with the early stages of ketosis.
Beyond the keto flu, there are other negative side effects of such a restrictive program:
- kidney stones
- nutrient deficiencies
- osteopenia, leading to osteoporosis
- cardiovascular disease
- difficult to stay compliant
- hard on kidneys
There is an upside to following the keto diet, if you can manage to stay on it:
- could help with diabetes management
- could help with eating disorders
- weight loss
- high fat content could support brain health
- proven to help otherwise uncontrollable epilepsy
Keto isn’t for everyone and certainly in the long term, compliance is difficult at best. It’s very restrictive, so many nutrients are missed and the restriction may lead to boredom with the program. Choose wisely if you think this is a program you’d like to try. I wouldn’t recommend using it long-term unless the benefits outweigh the risks for you.
Since June 2019, I decided to hold myself accountable for walking my talk. Several years ago, I was able to take off 135 pounds and essentially save my own life. I regained some of that weight in the last couple of years and I’m working my way back down. I’ve lost over 40 pounds since I began in June and have exercised nearly every day since August.
If you choose to join me on this journey, I hope I am able to impart some nutritional and lifestyle wisdom. Even though I may have gone off the rails temporarily I can still share some of my first hand experience as well as my acquired knowledge and training to help you make the right changes to live your best life.
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The keto diet sound excruciatingly unpleasant. Also, it doesn’t seem as if it would be very sustainable, and any benefits would soon be lost after it is discontinued.
I feel the same way Alice. But there are people who like it.
I’ve never went on or follow a diet but try to make healthy choices and what I like. I can’t imagine trying fads such as grapefruit diet or the celery craze. Right away I know that it’s not sustainable.
Eating a balanced and healthy diet is the best way to maintain your weight and health Lily.