Updated: Aug 29
The Ketogenic Diet - What Should You Be Aware Of?
The ketogenic diet (keto) was first introduced in 1924 to treat epilepsy and over recent years the diet has become increasing popular worldwide. Recent studies have showed that a keto friendly diet has many benefits which include weight loss and helps to fight Type 2 Diabetes.
A keto diet consists of consuming a high amount of fats and proteins with a marked reduction in carbohydrates. Foods that you would eat on a keto diet include avocado, eggs, meats, nuts and fish.
The aim of the diet is that by eating these types of foods your body will then enter ketosis using fat for energy. The keto diet, however, is not without a trail of controversies and potential health risks.
If you have decided that the keto diet is for you and intend to start you should consider these top 10 important tips before start on this journey.
#1 Side Effects:
Initially in the first couple weeks after starting a keto diet, you may develop symptoms such as nausea, muscle cramps, bad breath, headaches, changes in bowel habits, and even fatigue. If you experience this, you need to remain calm as your body is simply reacting to a shift in a new biochemical pathway for generating its fuel.
During the time your body is adjusting, and you are experiencing these side effects, remember to keep tabs on your blood glucose level. In addition, it is advised you monitor your ketone cardiac and other essential parameters at least once in a month.
The real challenge with the keto diet is having the determination to maintain compliance. At the start, many people are thrilled with their progress when they are starting to see their results. However, slowly and gradually many people lose focus and interest as they do with many diets but with keto even more so.
As the keto diet is a strictly regimented diet that is very selective in the foods you eat day to day this makes the diet even harder than most diets to maintain. When following a keto diet, each meal is a math equation where much research and analysis is required to ensure your sticking to the strict diet plan.
As people continue with the diet, they experience the challenges psychologically with a big shift in lifestyle change. This can then have impacts socially, when socializing with friends as you will not be able to eat cakes and treats at birthday parties for example. Friends may also make plans to meet at a certain restaurant or coffee shop that doesn’t offer anything on the menu that you can eat.
The keto diet requires extreme discipline and so for many they find it a diet that is unsustainable in the long term.
#3 Kidney Stress:
The keto diet emphasizes the consumption of foods with high protein content as an alternative to carbohydrate foods. However, unlike carbohydrates excess proteins in the body cannot all be stored and needs to undergo detoxification by the kidneys.
When considering a keto diet, always be mindful of the stress your high protein consumption may have on your kidneys. If you are to continue with a high consumption of protein this may in the long run lead to kidney failure.
It’s important to apply a healthy moderation in consuming your protein to help ensure you don’t put this extra added stress on your kidneys.
#4 Suppresses Hunger:
The perception that a diet that is strict with a long list of foods to stay away from would in turn increase cravings for food. But the reverse has been reported to be the case with the keto diet.
Diets with a low carbohydrate consumption suppress hunger reducing the cravings of snacking during the day. The downside to this is that for many people they are not eating enough food or calories that are required for their natural wellbeing. Their body may then lack the energy and nutrients that are required on the daily to operate at a healthy level.
Keto diets like many other diets with high levels of diary are prone to a distinct type of inflammatory acne rash. These rashes are shown to often break out on the neck, chest or back. When eating a keto diet, it is important to keep track of the foods you eat and monitor changes in your body and skin.
Many have reported that their skin has got oilier than usual when on the diet and so it is recommended to get a gentle exfoliating cleanser to keep the pores on your skin clear.
#6 Biological Ageing:
Some studies suggest that prolonged adaption to a keto diet increases the propensity for ageing on your body. Although still a hypothesis, low-carbohydrate diets with an increased consumption of fat could stimulate inflammatory pathways, oxidative stress and consequently biological ageing.
If you are concerned of these impacts on your body, you may want to take awareness of this and do your own research on the biological ageing effects of keto.
#7 Impacts on Muscle Growth:
The increased popularity of the keto diet has seen many people and athletes alike take up the diet to help optimize changes in their body composition during training. But many have experienced a drop-in strength and performance when following the diet.
The reason for this is that the body is often adapting and relying on ketosis and so this impacts on your performance. Keto diets restrict carbs that are known to promote the release of insulin a hormone that helps nutrients to get into the cells to drive muscle growth.
There is no clear evidence to show that a keto diet offers any more benefits for building muscle than a traditional high carb diet.
#8 Cost of the Keto Diet:
The unspoken truths of this increasingly popular diet are the costs it takes on your weekly grocery shop. Before going ahead with the keto diet, it is important to know the cost commitment as its much higher than a traditional diet.
If your generally pushed for time, meal prepping keto friendly meals can be time consuming. As such, many people opt to eat out at keto friendly restaurants. If you decide to do this, you need to be aware that generally keto meals cost more than other menu items.
For many, the costs required to sustain the diet can be the reason they opt out at a later stage.
#9 Personal Health:
General well-being is an interplay of many factors including your nutrition. If you have an underlying health condition for which you are on medication, you should be cautious of an abrupt dietary change because the efficacy of drugs is also tied to good nutrition. Hence, it is advisable to consult your doctor before making any commitments to a new dietary lifestyle such as a keto diet.
#10 Health Benefits:
The keto diet Is not all red light and danger signals the diet provides a long list of health benefits too. A low-carbohydrate diet can help lower your insulin concentrations (beneficial for sufferers of Type 2 Diabetes), helps with weight loss (which is more effective than fat restrictions for obesity treatment) and lowers blood pressure (all lowering the risk of cardiovascular diseases).
If you do suffer from any of these, don’t be afraid of the keto diet as it does offer many benefits to you. Just ensure you do the correct research and you carry along your dietician in your keto diet journey.
In summary, the keto diet can be beneficial to most people and people with underlying health/weight conditions. The diet has been proved to lower your body mass index for body composition with many people experiencing great results.
But like with everything we do in life it is important we do a holistic consideration of what a keto diet portends for our general well-being to minimize risks.
The above tips are some useful pointers to consider before going ahead with the diet, it is also advisable to consult your dietician or doctor beforehand.
By Mark Ollerton - Freelance Writer