Dieting, especially the associated “fad” dieting, has taken on a really negative connotation in today’s world. For those who struggle with eating and weight loss, the term “diet” can conjure up some really awful feelings. For that reason, it’s important to stop thinking of healthy eating as “dieting.” Healthy eating is something that should be sustainable throughout your entire life — not just for a few months to look better in a swimsuit.

Having said that, there are times when a rapid weight loss is necessary for health reasons, especially for those who are extremely obese. But even in these circumstances, the plan has to be carefully constructed so that healthy eating habits can be developed over time. If you starve yourself to lose weight, then you will likely gain a lot of weight back when you start to eat a normal, healthy diet again.

When it comes to choosing a diet, each approach has its pros and cons. There are so many diets out there today that many people don’t know where to start. Over the next few weeks, we’ll cover some of these diets to help you make a more informed decision.

The Keto Diet

For the first diet, I chose the “keto” diet. The keto, or ketogenic, diet seems to be the most trendy diet of the new year. Keto recipes and keto-labeled foods are out there everywhere, and almost everyone knows someone that has tried this diet.

So, what is the keto diet? A keto diet is a diet that makes your body produce ketones. Ketones are metabolites that are produced in the liver from fat oxidation. Your body produces ketones when you don’t have enough insulin in your body to turn glucose (or sugar) into energy. Your muscles and tissues can then use the ketones for fuel.

Some common foods in the keto diet are eggs, seafood, low-carb vegetables, meat, avocados, coconut oil, and nuts.

Ketosis (or increased ketones in the body) can be achieved in a variety of ways through nutrition. The most common way that people achieve ketosis is through a carbohydrate-restricted diet. On a standard ketogenic diet, your daily intake should be made up of 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% carbohydrates. Ketosis can also be achieved by fasting and prolonged exercise.

Pros and Cons

The pros of a keto diet include:

    • Fast weight loss
    • Suppresses appetite
    • Reduces seizure in people with epilepsy

The cons of a keto diet include:

    • Can cause high cholesterol
    • Irritability
    • Constipation
    • Headaches
    • Possible negative effect on kidneys (although this is still being studied)
    • Unpleasant body odor

Who Should Try the Keto Diet?

The keto diet may be effective for the short term but probably is not sustainable. As with any diet, you should always consult with your primary care doctor. While the keto diet may not necessarily decrease muscle mass, it’s not recommended for those who are trying to body build. The keto diet CAN be effective for those who are very overweight and need to lose weight quickly. In addition, the quick results can be a motivating factor for others who are beginning to diet. So even though keto is not necessarily a sustainable way to eat healthily, it can be an effective starting point.

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