Updated: Dec 4, 2019
Photo by Ursula Spaulding from Unsplash
Most people love the idea of quick results. Lately, the ketogenic diet has been getting a lot of attention for delivering just that. As you may know, what helps you lose weight does not always equate to good health, as many diet fads such as keto can be potentially harmful to your health if not properly understood.
Sometimes what you see on the outside doesn’t necessarily mean the cause is what you think. So here’s the skinny on the ketogenic diet:
The keto diet is generally aimed at putting your body in a state of ketosis, forcing your liver to release ketones when sugar is in short supply. Short supply can be an understatement though, as fewer than 50g of carbohydrates a day is necessary to enter this realm of low blood sugar. In doing so your body can freak out. Ailments like low blood pressure, kidney stones, constipation, nutrient deficiencies and an increased risk of heart disease can occur when attempting a keto diet under misinformed circumstances. The main objective here is to force your body to switch its source of energy from carbohydrates, the body’s primary source of energy, to stored fat. Unfortunately, here is where a lot of the false assumptions tend to form. Not only can it be dangerous to lower your blood sugar to that level, but chances are you are not even doing so.
The answer lies in your blood, or, your blood sugar level to be exact. So how do you know if your liver is producing ketones as a result of low blood sugar? You don’t! Unless you are testing your blood sugar levels with similar devices that diabetics use to test their insulin. The truth is most people that are “doing keto” have never experienced this state because they are unknowingly eating more carbs than they think, resulting in the body never reaching a true state of ketosis, which by the way, takes an average of 4-5 days of extreme carb restriction to achieve (Healthline). The reasons you’re seeing results may not be due to ketosis at all, but an overall calorie restriction from limited carb intake (which keeps you more satiated).
The Keto diet is also not effective as a long term solution to weight management. Harvard Health Blog, states that keto is as effective as a yo-yo, meaning what you lose you gain back just as fast. Harvard Health also encourages you to find a healthier way of losing weight: eating a balanced diet with lots of unprocessed foods and finding better alternatives to sugars and carbs. It makes more sense to form those kinds of habits because they give you holistic results.
No diet in the world that promises fast weight loss is ever practical or effective long term. If your goal is purely weight loss, you should strive for a caloric deficit, and a well balanced approach to nutrient intake.