Read This Before Trying the Ketogenic Diet
he ketogenic diet has exploded. Celebrities are trying it out and seem to swear by it. Tim Ferris tracks his “ketones” on the daily while Kim Kardashian is guzzling down butter coffee. What’s with this whole fat trend? How did we go from from fats are bad to fats are good? The ketogenic diet is like a party trick. You can pull it out if you need to, but we all know that magic isn’t real. With the popularity of healthy fats like avocado and coconut oil as well as the whole grass fed vs. conventional meat craze, high fat seems to make at least a little bit of sense, but something tells me this diet trend is seriously over-egged. Before you start eating half a pig for breakfast, check out the pros and cons to eating a high fat low carb diet.
Pro: It helps you lose weight
You will no doubt lose weight on the ketogenic diet. By cutting out all carbs and minimizing protein you are putting your body in “emergency mode” aka ketosis. The whole reason you are able to read this article in the first place is because of glucose, the body’s optimal source of energy. You need glucose to think, move, breathe and speak. When you cut out any source of glucose such as carbs, your body is going to start using fat as a secondary source of energy. It will be pulling fat from your body to use as fuel. You will be dropping pounds like crazy and if your goal is to lose fat, then you will no doubt succeed.
Con: It spikes cortisol
Cortisol. It sounds like some kind of toxic bathroom cleaner doesn’t it? Cortisol is a hormone created by your body when you are under stress. Cortisol gets pumped by your adrenal glands when you are in a “fight-or-flight” scenario such as being chased by a lion or public speaking. When you eliminate carbs all together, your body is now in a permanent, low grade “fight or flight” situation. Testosterone will be taking a back seat. Who has time to have sex when you could be potentially eaten alive? When you provide a steady stream of glucose from healthy carbs like fruits and root vegetables to your body, it has support. So when you are under stress, it doesn’t have to rely on cortisol. When cortisol starts flooding your body, guess what gets down-regulated? Testosterone. So by default, your sex drive will become obsolete.
Pro: It can heal your digestive tract
Our digestive tracts have been through a lot. Between all the chemicals we take in from our environment, to the processed food we ate as a child, we are not looking too good down there. You may know someone with IBS, which stands for “Irritable Bowel Syndrome” or Celiac disease. Intestinal disorders are becoming more and more common and the ketogenic diet can help. If you ever get stomach pains after you eat, your inner digestive tract could be inflamed and eating a lot of fats while keeping fibre low can fix that very quickly.
Con: You are slowing down detoxification
We take in tons of toxins on a regular basis. Toxic substances like heavy metals, pharmaceutical drugs, plastics, additives, everything that just isn’t natural, gets processed by your liver. What else has to get processed by your liver? Fat. Specifically fat from animal products like butter, eggs and meat. Fat is a burden to your liver. You should be giving your liver room to detox by lightening up on the fat. If not, you will just get loaded up day after day without giving yourself the chance to detox.
Pro: You will by default cut out bad foods
It’s usually the foods that are high in both sugar AND fat that seem to be the worst for you. Cookies, cake, fries, chicken wings, pizza. Any kind of dessert or deep fried food is bad for you. We all know that. By going “high fat”, you will be by default cutting out processed food and will feel better purely because you are eating whole foods. There are benefits to eating good quality fats, the best part about it, is that you will be getting your Omega 3’s in, which are found in animal fats like chicken and fish. Having animal fat in your diet is actually really important for this reason alone.
Con: It’s difficult to maintain ketosis
You may think that by eating a bunch of avocados, you’ll be in ketosis and everything will be fine and dandy. The thing is, ketosis is pretty difficult to maintain which is why supplementing with things like MCT oil which stands for “medium chain triglycerides” is usually necessary. You not only need to keep your carbs low but your protein as well. It’s not something you can maintain long term. If for some reason you need to drop pounds quickly, then by all means give it a go, but it’s not going to be permanent weight loss.
Pro: It supports brain function
In a recent study, ketones were shown to form new neurons in rats. It could be because of the high dose of Omega 3 fatty acids you are consuming when on a ketogenic diet. Omega 3s are crucial for healthy brain function and when you eat low fat, you are almost definitely not getting enough. This is the reason fish oil has become so popular. We are cutting back on fat in general but forgetting about the good fats we need to think clearly.
Con: It will sap your energy
Why does bulletproof coffee even exist? It’s because when you start the ketogenic diet, at first you feel great, but then the fatigue sets in. Bulletproof coffee has become like a religion in the ketogenic community. It’s basically just black coffee with some type of fat source like butter, coconut oil or MCT oil. It’s supposed to give you an even stream of energy that will last all morning. If this diet really was the right way to eat, would we really need to rely on coffee? Bulletproof or not, it’s still a stimulant.