Why You Should Avoid The Keto Diet
For the last year, all I’ve heard is the word keto (short for ketosis) and truth be told, it’s starting to make my eye twitch! This diet has become insanely popular within the last six months and rightly so, many people are seeing extreme weight results while adhering to it. And you get to eat all the fat you want right (like this yummy fudge…) And if people are loving their results, it must be good for you, right? Sigh…
As I mentioned, keto has become quite a hot topic in 2018 and every other person I talk to is attempting this restrictive diet.
In case you didn’t know, ketosis is a metabolic process that helps the body survive. Basically, when your body doesn’t have any carbohydrates to live off of it uses fat instead.
So long as you keep your carbohydrate intake under (roughly) 30g per day (a banana has about 23g), you should force your body in ketosis after a while- though the exact number of carbohydrates varies person to person.
And while you may be gasping about the lack of carbohydrates, know that you can counter this with calories from fat. Full fat cheese, bacon and coconut oil are all acceptable on the keto diet.
It’s not that I am against all low carbohydrate diets- I think they can be beneficial. From a sports perspective, I prefer using a cycling method as that seems to work best for both performance as well as physique goals. However, keto is a whole other avenue.
First off, just to set the record straight… the keto diet is not new. Let me be clear on that: it is not new.
Ever heard of the Atkins diet? Yup, the one from way back when? Well I hate to burst your bubble but it’s pretty much the same diet as keto. The goal is to force your body to use fat as fuel instead of carbohydrates by intaking most of your calories from fat or protein.
The book itself, is actually a pretty great read and when I finally read it (about four years ago) it definitely had my mind buzzing!
So, if I loved the book, why do I dislike the keto diet?
The truth is, I dislike all diets and keto is just one more.
I think that diets are always a short-term option and unless your goals are short term (figure competition, specific photoshoot etc.) they’re pretty pointless. Most people should place their emphasis on fixing their daily habits instead of adhering to a restrictive diet for a couple of months.
The exception in my opinion, is when your goal is to HEAL. If you have a specific aliment/disease then I think getting into ketosis can have some amazing benefits (so long as you talk to your doctor and whatnot before jumping right in :P- disclosure folks, I’m not a doctor)
Buuuttt, if your goal is more general (to be healthier, maybe shed a few pounds) than I don’t think the keto diet (or any diet is the way to go about that).
The keto diet places most of it’s emphasis on fat and protein intake- which is awesome. Unfortunately, like all diets most people take this to a silly extreme and start binging on bacon and cream cheese.
While I can’t deny that this is probably delicious (though I’m not a bacon fan personally- crazy right?!) it’s not the healthiest avenue.
Keeping a high fat intake is great… if the fats you’re consuming are healthy and balanced (coconut, avocado, nuts, seeds etc.). But fueling your body with bacon grease and general cheese isn’t.
Like most things health related, quality matters- even on the keto diet.
If you truly want to rock the keto diet, ensure that your choices support HEALTH. Choose beef and chicken over hot dogs. Avocados, nuts and oils over bacon fat, canola oil etc. Don’t opt for crap foods and call it a healthy diet 😛
Impractical For Long Term
My other problem with the keto diet (and all other diets) is that it’s impractical for most people to follow long term (again, goals of healing aside).
Are you truly never going to eat a bowl of oatmeal again? Or a wrap? Lentils? Probably not. So how is it benefiting you to fully omit those food items only to reintroduce them in a month or so and then cringe when your body weight jumps up slightly- which it will.
I much prefer people learn to implement basic healthy habits that set them up for long term weight management. Habits which, most people suck at. Focus on the small stuff first before jumping into crazy.
Don’t get me wrong, I love having low carb options in my diet (like these chocolate pancakes!) as well as high protein meals (more pancakes anyone?). I just think sticking to an extreme version is unrealistic and not overly fun.
Not Fun Side Effects
Many of these side effects actually occur on all new diets, but specifically low carb ones. Things like shaking, loss of focus, hunger, sweating/chills.
Our bodies are used to using carbohydrates as a fuel source so forcing your body to make the switch isn’t comfortable. In fact, most people refer to the first few weeks as the “keto flu”. For someone who just wants to be a healthier, it seems counter productive to me to put your body through something so rigorous.
Food should make you feel good, energized and fueled. And while you can definitely get to that point on the keto diet- why bother shocking your system only to stick with the diet a few months?
Healthy habits seem a much better idea from a long-term perspective.
You Can’t Half Ass The Keto Diet
People think that following something is better than just learning to eat actual food daily. But people are wrong.
The keto diet isn’t something you can jump on and off of. It takes time to get your body into ketosis and it won’t happen if you “slip up”.
It’s more of an all or nothing diet.
Since most people can’t commit to this, all that’s really accomplished is binging on fat for a few weeks and boosting calories. Of course, then it’s followed by jumping back onto the diet and the cycle continues.
If this is you, then I’m sorry but you’re just yo-yo dieting which is terrible for you. Again, focus on habits.
This point comes back to the aspect that quality matters on the keto diet. But in addition to still choosing quality foods, you need to anticipate and counteract what may happen while on the diet.
It’s common that people lose electrolytes and more water than normal on the keto diet. This may not seem like a big deal, but it will when your body produces necessary hormones to keep your body in homeostasis.
Knowing this means that you need to plan for it and ensure adequate consumption of water as well as foods rich in magnesium, potassium and sodium.
If you’re following this diet with the help of a doctor- awesome! If you’re just jumping in, this type of poor execution is where the diet (like any other) can become dangerous.
Coming Off The Keto Diet Will Normally Result In Some Weight Gain
I’m personally okay with this because weight fluctuates. Period. But if you’re doing keto for weight loss, expect some gain coming off of it.
Why? Well you just cut out an entire food group. One that stores 3-4g of water per one gram of carbohydrates. So, there’s bound to be some fluctuations here.
Yes, of course you can lose weigh on the keto diet. The first initial drop in weight is from water weight because you’re not storing water from carbohydrates.
If your goal is to drop weight super fast, eliminating an entire food group will do that 😛 so will eating only cucumbers for three weeks- but it’s not always the best approach (side note: do not eat only cucumbers for three weeks!).
If you’re not planning to stay on the keto diet for any significant amount of time, expect a bit of weight gain coming off of it.
Personally, I think that most people just need to learn to eat food and balance them according to their specific needs, lifestyles and beliefs. Figure out how to eat real food, focus on quality and work it around your lifestyle. This is far better than jumping onto the latest diet trend.
If weight loss is your goal, I promise you, it IS possible to get lean AF without resorting to the extremes of an ultra low carb diet. But it still comes down to managing and tweaking healthy day to day habits versus excessive restriction.
For those people who are looking to heal or need to do a variation of an elimination diet, keto can work wonders. As I mentioned initially, it actually has a ton of benefits and many of which I am totally on board with.
I do however, believe that it needs to be properly executed, there needs to be a pre-determined time line and that quality still trumps when it comes to food choices. And it’s even better if you’re completing this diet with the guidance of a professional.
My advice for the general public though? Just eat real freaking food folks.