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Weighing the pros, cons of keto

By Joanna McAdams

Much has been said in these last few years about keto diets. It is very common to hear people talk about using cauliflower rice and zucchini noodles to replace the rice or pasta in their diet. But what is a keto diet? A ketosis diet is high fat, moderate protein and very low carbohydrate (usually around 30 grams per day or less).

Here’s a little nutrition 101 — the body uses glucose (also known as sugar) as its main fuel source. Glucose comes from the carbohydrates we eat, such as sweetened beverages, breads, fruit, beans, rice and cereals. When these carbohydrates are eliminated from our diet, our body switches over to a process of using its own fat as energy. The burning of our own fat stores for energy is called ketosis because of the ketones that are produced.

PROS

So what are some benefits of a ketosis diet:

  1. The diet allows for high-fat foods such as cheese, cream and butter that are typically not allowed on more traditional diet.
  2. Exercise is not needed to lose weight. In fact, while in ketosis, it is recommended to avoid heavy or intense exercising.
  3. The ketosis diet can significantly lower blood pressure and help with better blood sugar control in diabetics.
  4. Some research indicates better brain function and decreased inflammation on a ketosis diet. Many people also report better sleep, more energy and improved mental clarity.
  5. The ketosis diet suppresses appetite and enhances satiety.

CONS

Some of the negatives of a ketosis diet include:

  1. It takes very careful monitoring of all foods consumed to make sure you are staying under the 30 grams of carbs per day. A few too many carbs can bump you out of ketosis.
  2. It involves preparing and especially planning most of your own meals. Eating out or social functions can be challenging because of limited keto-friendly choices or many foods containing hidden carbs.
  3. The first several days of your body going into ketosis often is called the ketosis flu. You may feel fatigue and have headaches or even some nausea.
  4. Gastrointestinal irregularity and constipation may be an issue because of the elimination of high-fiber foods from the diet.
  5. The diet lacks many of the nutrients the body needs, so supplementing with vitamins and minerals is essential.

The ketosis diet is not a long-term lifestyle. However once weight loss is achieved, the diet can transition to a lower-carb lifestyle with regular exercise to aid in weight maintenance.

It is important to check with your doctor before considering the ketosis diet, especially if you have medical issues such as diabetes or hypertension.


Joanna McAdams is a registered and clinical dietician with Garden Park Medical Center. She can be reached at Joanna.McAdams@hcahealthcare.com.

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