Gaining immense popularity in the world of nutrition is the “Ketogenic Diet” which focuses on lowering your carbohydrate intake and increasing your fat intake. This is a very loaded subject with thousands of differing opinions on why this type of diet is beneficial vs. why it is harmful. At the end of this blog, I will give you my own educated opinion but encourage you to form your own! Let’s take a look into a low carb. diet to start:
What Can Happen When I Cut Carbs?
Very low carb diets can be beneficial for an individual in the short term. If executed for a longer term than recommended (say, for over 3-4 months) it can lead to carbohydrate depletion and poor daily performance (physically and mentally).
Why Exactly Are Carbs Essential?
There is a critical link between carb intake and:
– Body fat content
– The concentration of Insulin in the body (Insulin is a hormone produced by the Pancreas that regulates the amount of Blood Sugar found within the blood – under production or poor utilization of Insulin is the #1 cause of Diabetes).
The body’s preferred form of calorie comes from carbs as it is the body’s natural preferred form of energy. It is essential that an individual has a well-balanced diet with the proper macronutrient (proteins, carbs, and fats) percentages to assist them in achieving their goals, while allowing the body to maintain homeostasis.
What Is the Ketogenic Diet?
The Keto diet focuses on a higher protein and fat intake vs. a balanced macronutrient diet with a higher carb. intake. With this, the body will transition from burning carbs for energy to burning excess fat for energy. Sounds ideal, yes? So why is there so much discussion in the health and wellness community?
- FACT: A large amount of weight will be lost as Glycogen (stored carbs) is depleted in the muscle and liver, HOWEVER this is NOT due to fat loss, but rather water loss.
- FICTION: The body will rely more on free fatty acids for fuel when Glycogen is depleted. While this is the case in a small scale, the body will more-so rely on the amino acids (protein) supplied from the breakdown of lean muscle tissue.
While the body will in fact burn more fat, it is also burning more muscle. This is a particular diet that is safest to follow for a maximum of 5 weeks (if you are not an experienced athlete) and up to 4 months for someone in bodybuilding competition preparation. Beyond this, it can cause various health risks such as vitamin and mineral deficiency, acidity of the blood, high blood pressure, and kidney complications.
At the end of the day, consult your physician or nutritionist before considering the Keto diet to ensure there will be no adverse health effects due to a preexisting condition; once you have the clearance, feel free to give it a try! The short term health benefits are a great way to kickstart your heath journey, but remember, this should not be a permanent lifestyle change.
Have you experimented with the Keto diet? Let me know about your experience in the comments!