You’ve probably heard by now that the high fat, low carb keto diet will make your excess inches and pounds fall right off. But is it too good to be true?
Celebrities caught up in the keto craze are all over social media. Halle Berry claims it not only controls her diabetes, but is also slowing down the aging process. Megan Fox claims keto keeps her slim after having 3 kids. And athletes like Lebron James and Tim Tebow credit keto with helping them lose fat, retain lean muscle mass, and even improve their sports performance.
There’s no question keto can help you lose weight, and the results can be pretty dramatic. But what’s the cost? Is keto safe? Can you do it long term? To answer these questions, we have to first understand how the keto diet works.
How and Why Keto Works
The magic of the keto diet happens because of the severe carb restriction. The diet is 70-80 percent fats, 20-30 percent proteins, and only 5 percent carbs. There is no calorie restriction – you can eat until you feel full, as long as you stay within the rules. Keeping the carbs very low puts your body into a state of ketosis, where you burn fats as your primary fuel.
When your body doesn’t have enough carbohydrates (“carbs”) from food for your cells to burn for quick energy, it turns to fats instead. Fats are actually the preferred fuel for your metabolism and organs like your brain. Your liver breaks down fats into ketones to use as energy. Exercising for long periods of time, or drastically cutting calories (think: fasting) or carbs (think: keto) are ways to switch your body into ketosis.
When you burn fat as your primary fuel, your hunger hormones change – for the better. But on a calorie-restricting diet, your levels of ghrelin
– the hunger hormone – increase and cause you to feel hungrier and have more cravings. A low calorie diet also causes levels of satiety hormones to decrease in concentration, making you feel hungrier more often.
In contrast, during ketosis, ghrelin does not increase, even as you lose more weight. Also, within the first week of going keto, the satiety hormones that make you feel full and satisfied level out and the result is feeling full faster and for a longer period of time. Your metabolism even gets a boost and causes you to burn extra calories while in ketosis. But, even with all its advantages, keto isn’t for everyone and can be hard to maintain for the long-term.
The Dark Side of Keto
Keto is not a one-size-fits-all diet. For many people, ketosis is safe, effective, and even anti-inflammatory. But, keto has a dark side – it can stress your kidneys and heart, and lead to dehydration or changes in your blood chemistry – both short-term and long-term. And there are people who shouldn’t do keto because of chronic health conditions or difficulty breaking down fats.
Even for people who experience dramatic, successful weight loss, low carb keto can be hard to stick to for the long term. Carbs are everywhere – even in vegetables like cauliflower, which is a staple for many who are transitioning to keto.
Keeping to 50 grams of carbs or less daily is more difficult than it sounds, especially if you travel and eat out. Going over that 50 gram amount means your body can go out of ketosis and your weight loss will come to a halt. Severely low carb also means you aren’t feeding all your body’s hormones the fuel they need to stay in balance. Even though your brain may thrive on fats, your hormones need carbs to stay healthy and in balance.
The high fat keto diet is not a high protein diet. In fact, if you eat too much protein that will also kick you out of ketosis, and your body will convert that extra protein into sugar. Your body has a protein “sweet spot” – the amount you need to maintain lean muscle mass and feel full, without overdoing or underdoing it.
If you have issues with stomach acid production, or your gallbladder isn’t functioning optimally or has been removed, then keto may not be the right diet for you. You need the right amount of stomach acid to digest protein, and a healthy gallbladder is essential to break down fats. You may need to supplement with HCl+2 for healthy stomach acid production, and Bile Builder for gallbladder support and proper fat digestion before you transition to a higher fat diet like keto.
What to Do When Keto Doesn’t Work for You
Keto isn’t for everybody, especially long-term. And anytime you go off of a diet – especially one as strict and limited as keto – you run the risk of gaining back all of the weight you lost and then some. If you can’t see yourself shunning carbs for the rest of your life to stay in ketosis, there are time-tested and groundbreaking alternatives that give you the metabolism reboot you need to lose the weight for good, while still enjoying the foods you love.
Here at UNI KEY Health, we believe a healthy diet includes all nutrients – high quality fats, proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and filtered water – and you can fuel your body with fats and lose weight while maintaining adequate amounts of all essential nutrients.
We have seen firsthand success with thousands of dieters losing inches and pounds with both the Fat Flush plan and new Radical Metabolism plan from Ann Louise Gittleman. Both of these diets not only switch you into fat-burning mode and rev up your metabolism to lose weight faster, but they also cleanse, nourish, detox, and support your health – from your organs to your hormones, and all the way down to the cellular level.