Health

Pros and Cons of The Ketogenic Diet

The good, the bad, and the fattening.

The ketogenic diet is acclaimed by many who have sworn by its transformative effects. However, it is equally as renounced by a number of physicians and nutritionists who fear the long-term effects of its usage.

Beloved yet discouraged against by many, keto is perhaps one of the most controversial diets of our day. Though there are always new “fads” that come around, serve their time, and fade into the world of unrealistically maintainable diets, it seems as though keto might be here to stay but for contestable reasons.

First off, What Is It?

A Ketogenic diet is based off of reducing carbohydrate consumption. Carbohydrates have acquired an evil reputation over the past decade and have recently been attributed to a number of growing health concerns such as diabetes and obesity. The group consists of starches, sugars, and cellulose, but for our purposes just the first two will be focused upon.

While it’s known that a high amount of carbohydrates can be found in bread, pasta, and baked goods, perhaps a lesser known fact is that a significant amount of carbs also exist in fruits, dairy products, and legumes. These are all really good for you right? Well, recent findings are suggesting maybe not so much.

A keto diet holds that carbohydrate intake is limited to 20g or less. Yep, just 20g. By nutrition standards, it is recommended that at least 200g of carbs are consumed daily on a 2000-calorie diet. So at first, perhaps 20g sounds impossible. But is it doable? 100%

Ketogenic diet
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What Are You Eating?

Bye bye carbs! Hello protein, and hello fat. Yes, fat – the good kinds of fat. A Ketogenic diet consist of consuming around 70% of calories from fat, 15-20% from protein, and less than 15% from carbohydrates. Healthy fatty foods include things like avocados, salmon, and nuts.

Your veggies are always good for you! Even though vegetables do contain carbohydrates, these are easy digestible and contain sources of fiber that may be hard to obtain on a  keto diet. Low-carb veggies include broccoli, edamame, cauliflower, and spinach.

As for fruits, you should avoid overly sweet or starchy ones, clear indicators of sugar and thus carbohydrates. Aim for eating berries, like blueberries, raspberries, and even strawberries. Just be mindful of your portion sizing.

Are You a Good Candidate?

Before you ditch the banana, a ketogenic diet is not for everyone, and it’s important to understand your body type and health goals to know if it’s right for you. Low carb diets are best suited for those who need to lose a substantial amount of weight and body fat, especially in the abdominal region.

Where an individual gains weight tends to differ because of genetics and other factors, and for those who suffer from fat increases in the abdominal region, keto serves as a great option to help reduce this problem area. Along with fat and overall weight loss, keto diets can be good for those with diabetes, as it reduces blood sugar and insulin levels.

For meat lovers, keto is the perfect diet as meat consists of mainly protein and fat – very little, if any, carbohydrates. For vegetarians and vegans, this diet can be a bit of a challenge, but with diligence and maneuvering it can be done.

Ketogenic diet
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Those critics mentioned earlier often criticize ketogenic and low-carbohydrate diets because the elimination or significant reduction of a central food group never seems like a good thing. We need carbohydrates and the fiber that accompanies them.

Replacing these nutrients with a high intake of fat is equally frowned upon as the chances of high cholesterol and heart disease may potentially rise. However, these lacking nutrients, particularly fiber, can be easily obtained from a rich intake of vegetables and if balanced properly, the incidence of these diseases will be slim.

If done right, keto success stories speak for themselves.

You will not improve your heath by any means if you choose to eat fried bacon every day and smother your low-carb meals with cheese. But listening to your body, treating it with love and respect, as well as feeding it nutritious food will make all the difference in your keto journey.

I can’t preach what I haven’t practiced, so as a 3 month keto-er, this diet really helped me in targeting problem areas of my body. As a pescatarian it wasn’t so difficult to manage as I could easily add seafood  to meals, but on the days I didn’t consume fish or shrimp it was still doable!

If you think this diet may benefit you and you want to read more about it, there’s plenty of information online that delves into the logistics of how ketosis works (your body’s utilization of fat for energy instead of glucose) and do’s and don’ts of keto in more details.

Assess what works best for you.

Diets come and go but feelings don’t, so listen to what makes you feel good and happy. It’ll help in making sure you stick with your new lifestyle as opposed to picking up and then dropping a fleeting new fad.

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Also published on Medium.

Isabelle is a senior at Cornell University minoring in English and...