The ketogenic diet: what are its advantages and disadvantages?

The ketogenic diet: what are its advantages and disadvantages?
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Trendy diets promise great weight loss and better well-being, but the risks they carry are rarely discussed. The ketogenic diet has gained enormous popularity, mainly because of its high effectiveness in a short period of time. On the other hand, it sometimes stirs up controversy. Check if it is worth your interest!

What is the ketogenic diet about?

Ketogenic diet is very strict, so many people have problems with keeping it. This diet can help you lose weight and lower blood glucose levels. On the other hand, many people struggle with the yo-yo effect later on.

If you take in too few carbohydrates, you force your body to burn fat. By doing so, you put your body into a state of ketosis, where it does not get its energy from glucose, but from fat located in the tissues. Organic ketones are a side effect of the process mentioned above. They are organic compounds that accumulate in the blood and are excreted in the urine. The body uses them as an alternative source of energy, instead of missing carbohydrates. At this point, it also begins to burn fat to obtain more energy.

The ketogenic diet: a menu

Many experts recommend that the daily intake of carbohydrates should not exceed 50 grams. If you choose to follow this diet, you should limit the amount of carbohydrates that come mainly from vegetables, fruit and dairy products. Cut out potatoes, yams, cereals, pasta, bread and legumes from your diet. On a ketogenic diet you cannot eat honey, agave syrup, rice, apples, oranges, bananas or maple syrup. However, your menu should include

  • non-starchy vegetables (zucchini, eggplant, cucumber, cauliflower, broccoli, tomato),
  • green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, lettuce),
  • meat (poultry, lamb, beef, fish),
  • full-fat dairy products,
  • nuts and seeds (walnuts, macadamia nuts, sunflower seeds),
  • eggs,
  • cheese,
  • in moderation, avocados and berries,
  • peanut butter (no sugar),
  • olive oil and coconut oil.

Setting up and following a low-carbohydrate diet can be challenging. The main source of energy in the traditional diet model is carbohydrates. The keto diet, on the other hand, calls for 80-90 percent of your energy intake to come from fats, with the remaining 10-20 percent coming from protein and carbohydrates. If you find that preparing a menu takes you too much time, consider a diet catering service that offers a ketogenic diet. This way, you will not only gain time for other activities, but also avoid serious nutritional mistakes. By opting for this solution, you are assured that each meal was created under the watchful eye of a nutritionist.

Is the keto diet safe?

Researchers say that a ketogenic diet can reduce the risk of diabetes, metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease. It is also most likely to improve levels of good HDL cholesterol. Some doctors recommend this diet for children with epilepsy who do not respond to other treatments. Additional research is needed to confirm that the keto diet can also help with: Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), acne and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

What are the risks of the keto diet?

The proposed diet is not sustainable in the long run, and therefore will not help you build good eating habits. While following it, you should limit whole grain products, low-fat dairy, fresh fruits and vegetables. The mentioned products not only support long-term weight loss, but also improve overall health.

Before you go on a keto diet, check with your doctor, especially if you are taking medication for high blood pressure or diabetes. He or she will most likely determine a new dosage regimen. If you have diabetes and decide to go on a ketogenic diet, be sure to monitor your blood glucose levels at least 3-4 times a day.

Experts advise against the said diet for people who suffer from:

  • pancreatic disease,
  • liver disease,
  • nutritional disorders,
  • thyroid problems,
  • gallbladder diseases.

Possible side effects

Wondering how you should know you are in a state of ketosis? This may be indicated by an unpleasant mouth odor reminiscent of overripe fruit or nail polish remover. Acetone is a ketone body that is excreted to some extent with your breath. You may also experience increased thirst or a dry mouth. The symptoms mentioned above are usually accompanied by weight loss, increased urination, sleep problems, decreased appetite, and increased energy and concentration.

Many people also experience the keto flu, which usually passes within a few days. It most often manifests as fatigue, headache, irritability, dizziness, and muscle cramps. Some people also report trouble concentrating, cravings for sweets, stomach discomfort, mood swings, and bone pain. Before you go on a ketogenic diet, consider all its benefits and drawbacks. Contact a specialist to advise you on whether this diet is right for you.

Photo: client’s press material.

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