Pros and cons of the keto diet
The ketogenic diet sets a pleasing premise, recommending your meals are made up of 70 per cent fat, 25 per cent protein and just 5 per cent carbs.
The idea is that when your body runs out of carbs to burn for energy, it will look for the next alternative fuel: fats.
Most keto followers keep satiated with protein and get their vitamins and minerals from low carb vegetables.
The diet has been effective for many weight watchers - but only if they follow the recommendations closely. Before you take the plunge, get acquainted with the pros and cons.
Pro: You will lose weight
In a normal diet, carbohydrates are absorbed into the bloodstream as sugar, which makes the body release insulin.
Insulin allows glucose to enter the cells, which the body uses for fuel or stores as fats. By reducing your carb intake, the insulin levels are lowered too. This puts your body in a state called ketosis where fats are broken down for energy instead.
Con: Done wrong, you can gain fat
To get the fat requirements, people are often encouraged to eat the thicker, creamier options such as full-fat yogurt and butter. People new to the keto diet tend to go overboard with unhealthy saturated fats from meats, butter and fried foods.
No matter the diet, if you eat bad food, it is going to be bad for you. You may increase your risk of heart disease.
Go for healthy fats from avocado, coconut oil (in moderation), nuts and egg yolks. Also, get in a variety of low carb vegetables like asparagus, capsicum, mushroom, zucchini, tomatoes and leafy greens.
Pro: It regulates blood sugar levels
Keto diets may help people who have insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes or epilepsy. This does not mean you need to cut carbs altogether; it is better to discuss a tailored approach with your doctor or nutritionist.
If you must go keto, try to increase your carb intake to prevent yourself from feeling faint.
Con: Low carb diets can be uncomfortable
People who first go keto may experience some side effects such as headaches, fatigue and lack of concentration. This is also known as the keto flu, a set of carb withdrawal symptoms.
It is important to stay hydrated during ketosis as it uses up your water stores. Avoid strenuous exercise while you get used to the new diet, and make sure you get enough sleep.
Pro: It is meant to be short-term
Many experts are against the idea of adopting a keto diet long-term because of the increased risk to your heart and liver health, increase in belly fat and other concerns.
To avoid the post-keto weight gain, some dietitians recommend transitioning to the paleo diet before returning to healthy balanced meals with portion control.
Con: No cheat meals
There is no room for cheating because a sudden spike in sugar will bring your body out of ketosis. You can, however, indulge in keto snacks that are rich in protein or healthy fats.
The keto diet is high-maintenance and takes discipline. Find out what works for you best in the long run, and consult your doctor before starting on it.
This article first appeared in Shape (www.shape.com.sg)