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Exploring the Potential Risks and Hidden Pitfalls of the Keto Diet: What You Need to Know

It's no secret that a keto diet has become extremely popular in the last several years. If followed, one can put their body into what's called ketosis and thus resulting in losing weight. Keto, however, should come with a guidebook to help those who are interested. Since it doesn't, I've made my own! Read on below to make sure you are following a healthy keto plan.

What is Keto?

A ketogenic diet, now known simply as Keto, was created as a medical diet to help control epilepsy in patients who were unresponsive to medication. It was believed that by keeping the body in ketosis the epileptic triggers would be minimized and result in less frequent seizures. We've now also discovered that this type of diet is beneficial for weight loss, and scientists are testing the theory that it can be beneficial for other neurological disorders such as Alzheimers and brain cancers like glioblastoma.

Ketosis in a nutshell:

Ketosis is created by consuming very little carbohydrates forcing the body to burn fat instead of carbs. Normally your body would burn these carbs, also known as glucose, as an energy source, but with less carbs in the system the body loses its glucose stores. As a result, the body begins to burn fat and become the main source of energy for the body and the brain. This fat can come from diet or from the fat stores in the body, which is what causes a more rapid weight loss in those following the diet. With the lack of glucose in the body, insulin levels drop, and the liver begins to make ketones which creates ketosis.

Let's talk about fat, baby...

The standard keto diet is high in fats, moderate in proteins, and low in carbohydrates, with fats (a.k.a. lipids) being as much as 80% of the daily caloric intake. One of the biggest considerations with a high fat diet is making sure the correct kinds of fats are consumed. Fats fall into three main categories - unsaturated, saturated, and trans fats.

  • Unsaturated fats: These fats are the good guys of fats. Further broken down into Monounsaturated Fats and Polyunsaturated Fats, they can be found in nuts, seeds, some vegetables and animal proteins among others.

  • Saturated fats: Science still doesn't fully understand this fat category, but what scientists have found so far is that a diet high in saturated fats can increase risk of diseases like heart disease, obesity, and possibly even some cancers. These are generally solid at room temperature, and the recommendation is currently to limit these to no more than 10% of your total daily fat intake.

  • Trans fats: Also known as added fats, these are the definite bad guys of fats. Mostly found in processed foods and fried foods, guidelines firmly suggest a diet that has zero trans fats.

The role of proteins & carbs in Keto:

Even with the high intake of fats on the keto diet, it is still vitally important to consume proteins and complex carbohydrates. These provide nutrients that are essential to bodily function. Without these the body can begin to suffer deficiencies that can lead to unwanted symptoms such as kidney stones, constipation, or high cholesterol. Those who are wishing to gain muscle mass may find that a more balanced diet, or a diet higher in protein to be more beneficial.

Key takeaways:

If you decide to consume a keto diet, be mindful of the types of fats you eat and make sure you also incorporate moderate amounts of protein and some whole fruits, vegetables, and grains to avoid complications.

Overall, if your aim is to lose weight, gain muscle, or manage a health issue, the best advice I can give is to consult with a professional first. Doctors, nutritionists, and trainers are all educated in body functions and how to obtain optimal health and will be able to guide you on your health journey.

Your Healthy Habit Coach is here for you as one of those dedicated health professionals. Schedule a discovery call to see if any of the services would be right for you.

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