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Is the Keto Diet Beneficial?

a keto diet meal sits on top of a folded towel napkin with a fork and knife

Fad diets have one thing in common – they all promise fast and easy weight loss results. The keto diet is among the most popular and has been sticking around for quite a while. This is likely due to the solid anecdotal evidence that touts the diet’s effectiveness above other diet plans in this arena. But is keto beneficial for our overall health? And, does it really provide a solution for sustained weight loss? Based on the scientific research – and the lack of data to show long-term effects – any experts agree that the risks far outweigh the benefits.

Understanding the basic principles of a ketogenic diet will give us a clearer picture of how it relates to our overall health and wellness. So, what exactly is keto?

At its core, the keto diet aims to retrain the body in how it burns fuel to create energy by depriving the body of carbohydrates and increasing fat intake. Instead of relying on sugar (glucose) from carbohydrates, it depends on ketone bodies (an energy byproduct of fat broken down in the liver). When in a state of ketosis, the body begins to burn stored fat for energy.

While burning fat seems like the desired result when trying to lose weight and achieve better health, it’s not as simple as it sounds. It typically takes 2-4 days to reach a state of ketosis. Some people may take longer than others.

Keto Diet Plan

Because the keto diet plan has such a high-fat requirement, people on the project must eat fat at each meal. The diet includes some heart-healthy unsaturated fats like nuts and avocados, but saturated fats from oils (i.e., coconut), lard, and butter are encouraged in high amounts. Consuming healthy fats helps your body absorb some vitamins and minerals. In addition, it helps build cell membranes and is essential for blood clotting, muscle movement, and controlling inflammation. However, eating too many saturated fats in your diet can raise LDL cholesterol in your blood, which has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.

Keto limits a wide variety of nutrient-rich fruits, vegetables, and grains. This may create micronutrient deficiencies that can lead to a slew of short- and long-term effects on the body. Potential short-term health risks associated with a ketogenic diet include symptoms such as:

  • Constipation – the keto diet is low in fibrous foods that promote regularity.
  • Keto-flu – extreme carbohydrate deprivation can come as a shock to your body. As it depletes its carb supply and switches to a state of ketosis, you may experience flu-like symptoms. These include headaches, dizziness, fatigue, brain fog, and nausea.

Long-term health risks of keto include:

  • Liver problems – keto overloads the body with high-fat levels to metabolize. This can aggravate any existing liver conditions.
  • Kidney problems – keto overloads the kidneys, which help metabolize protein. In addition, studies show a high intake of animal foods can lead to increased excretion of calcium in your urine and kidney stones.

Keto Diet Foods

Anecdotal solid evidence of the keto diet’s effectiveness in quick and easy weight loss plays a large part in keeping this fad diet in the mainstream. But, many health experts warn against jumping on the bandwagon. The high-fat content – particularly the high level of unhealthy saturated fat – is cause for concern. Combining this with strict limitations on nutrient-rich foods like fruits, veggies, and grains may have adverse long-term effects on cardiovascular health. In addition, approved keto diet foods just don’t allow for the proper recommended servings of the vitamins and nutrients our bodies need to thrive.

A balanced diet with proper portion control is key to healthy and sustainable weight loss. Z.E.N. Foods is here when you are ready to commit to a healthier lifestyle. Our Z.E.N consultants consider your lifestyle, age, and activity level when setting up a customized plan. So whether it’s a meal plan or juice cleanse, we can help!

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