The Pros and Cons of a Ketogenic Diet for Losing Weight
You may have heard about the ketogenic (low carb high fat) diet, but are unsure as to what exactly it involves. Does the ketogenic diet really work to help you lose weight?
And is it actually good for you to restrict carbs? You might even be wondering whether the keto diet is just another fad diet.
As with any weight loss program or diet, you want to know the pros and cons. And more importantly, whether it is worth making the drastic lifestyle and diet changes.
So that’s where this guide explains the benefits as well as the challenges of keto for beginners. I hope this helps you weigh the pros and cons, and decide whether the ketogenic diet is right for you.
What is the ketogenic diet?
The ketogenic diet is a lifestyle based on a diet that is high fat, low carb, and moderate protein. The main factor in the ketogenic diet is the extreme restriction of carbohydrates in the diet. It is similar to Atkins, but with the emphasis on ingesting fat-rich foods.
When you go on the keto diet, you will ingest little to no carbs and rely on a high fat intake. Because you deprive your body of carbs, your body begins to use stored fat for energy causing you to burn unwanted fat. This process causes ketones to build up within the body, hence, the name ketogenic diet.
On the keto diet, you will avoid all carbohydrate-heavy foods such as bread, pasta, rice, beans, milk, sugar, and corn. You will be able to enjoy high-fat foods such as eggs, bacon, coconut oil, coconut milk, butter, and avocados. A moderate amount of protein is also necessary but not to be consumed excessively.
Before you read any further, if you want the COMPLETE guide to all things KETO along with heavenly recipes, I highly recommend The Keto Beginning (Updated & Expanded Edition). It’s perfect for beginners. And most importantly, it works! Click here to get it now.
Why try a ketogenic diet?
The ketogenic diet has become increasingly popular because it works. A low carb high-fat diet has helped many people burn fat and lose weight effectively. While it can be extremely challenging to stick to the diet, if you adhere to the low carb limit and increase your fat intake, you will shed pounds.
There are also many health benefits to cutting out sugar in any form. In fact, many people have experienced the healing effects of a low carb high-fat diet in diabetes, and autoimmune diseases such as arthritis.
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The Pros and Cons of a Ketogenic Diet for Losing Weight
What are the downsides of a keto diet?
Here is the thing. The keto diet does present a few challenges for most people. Before you start on this weight loss (and healthy eating) journey, it’s a good idea to be aware of the struggles you might experience.
Don’t worry, it’s not as bad as it sounds. Being aware of the potential challenges is a good thing. You will be better prepared and able to succeed in your weight loss efforts in this way.
So without further ado, here are some of the challenges I believe you need to think about.
Expenses of keto food
Keeping up with a ketogenic diet can be slightly more expensive than the average carbohydrate heavy lifestyle.
Of course, it will depend on exactly what foods you choose to eat. However, unless you are going to stick to bacon and eggs for a lot of your meals, the cost of food can be significantly higher.
Since your carb intake is limited and you are avoiding cheap conventional foods, your options are quality healthy ingredients. Although extremely nourishing and healthy, foods high in good fats such as avocados, chia seeds, grass-fed butter, MCT oil, and salmon are expensive.
For many people that are used to eating conveniently available junk food that’s high in sugar and salt, the keto diet may end up being an expensive diet.
One of the biggest challenges of starting a keto diet is changing your mindset about food.
The ketogenic diet encourages you to accept fatty foods as good and remove carbohydrates from your diet. For many years, we were told high-fat foods including saturated fat are evil. And now, you are being told to eat butter and coconut oil.
So it takes a huge mindset change to make yourself start eating foods you previously believed to be bad for you. And if you struggle with this fact, then it might be a challenge to stay motivated.
A lot of people are tempted to cut down on the amount of fat they eat because they’re simply not used to it. On the ketogenic diet, you NEED to eat high-fat foods to lose weight. When you cut back on carbohydrates, your body needs the fat as fuel for energy.
Side effects of a ketogenic diet
Although the low carb high-fat diet is good for you, if it’s your first time limiting carb intake, you must be prepared for keto flu.
Most people experience keto flu within the first week of starting on a ketogenic diet. You may experience symptoms such as brain fog, fatigue, dizziness and stomach pains.
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If you have ever tried to quit sugar, it’s a little bit like those withdrawal symptoms you get, but can be more intense.
With the ketogenic diet, you are not just restricting the obvious sugary foods like your favorite chocolate. But you are also cutting out sugars you are used to getting from carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes, bread, and lactose from milk.
Challenges of staying motivated
Keto dieting can be mentally challenging especially if no one else in the family is going keto, and all your friends think you are crazy.
Many people have reservations about cutting out carbs because they mistakenly believe it’s dangerous.
Many people do not understand what a keto diet is and how it works. You might get a lot of questions or even unsolicited advice from family, friends, and co-workers.
Your well-meaning friends might think you are crazy to limit your carb intake drastically.
As you can imagine, carbs are a major component of Western dietary intake.
We are so accustomed to eating a diet high in carbs that it’s hard to accept such a carb restrictive diet.
Going on the keto diet can feel like going against the current.
The challenge of staying in ketosis
Ketosis is the metabolic process that occurs as a result of restricting carb intake. When your body is depleted of carbohydrates, it is forced to use fat stores for energy.
This fat breakdown releases acids called ketones. In order to burn fat on the keto diet, your body needs to reach ketosis and stay in ketosis.
For most people, restricting net carbohydrate intake to less than 20g a day will result in ketosis.
However, it’s easy to derail your ketosis if you are not careful about what foods you eat.
Check out these charts for carb counts of common fruits and vegetables.
It can be so challenging to stay in ketosis because we are simply not aware of the carb content of many foods. It takes a bit of learning and guidance. I highly recommend learning about the ketogenic diet and what foods to eat (and what to avoid) before you start.
Having a good understanding of the keto lifestyle will increase your chances of staying motivated, eating well, and sticking to the diet.
Healthful Pursuit has a number of ketogenic diet resources I love, including recipes, 30-day programs, and allergy-free options.
And this particular book is one of my favourite keto guides and recipe book.
You Might Like to Read: 3 Fat-Burning Meal Plans to Keep You in Ketosis
Planning meals consistently
When trying to practice a carb restrictive diet, meal planning (and prepping) is almost a must. This is especially important if you lead a busy lifestyle (who doesn’t?).
The last thing you want is to go to work without planning for your keto-friendly lunch and snacks.
Meal planning is one of those life skills that many do not want to learn.
But if mastered, meal planning can save you a lot of time, money and stress, even if you aren’t on a ketogenic diet.
However, it’s not easy to get started with meal planning especially when you have to consider what foods to include and what to exclude.
That’s why you should take time to do this properly before starting a keto diet.
Both programs are keto guides that include meal plans.
You might be wondering what the difference is between both publications. So here is the highlight reel.
The Keto Beginning – Perfect for beginners as it has an in-depth beginner’s guide to eating high fat for the first 30 days. So if you haven’t started keto (or haven’t done it right in the past), this is the one for you. Start here.
Fat-Fueled Program – This holistic program is all about teaching you how to create a keto eating style that’s right for your body.
I would say it’s a nice transition from The Keto Beginning. It shows you how to get into fat-burning mode without going strict low-carb. Start here.
The Fat-Fueled Program is for you if you are:
- sick and tired of yo-yo dieting and getting no results.
- dealing with hormonal imbalances and mood swings, symptoms of infertility
- experiencing low energy and brain fog, and food sensitivities
- desperate to feel and look good (but still enjoy delicious healthy food)
- ready to finally stop obsessing over the numbers and lose weight the easy way.
The benefits of starting a ketogenic diet
Now on to the benefits of starting a ketogenic diet. Yes, the challenges of starting a ketogenic diet may be a little tough especially in the beginning, but I think you should know the amazing benefits as well.
After all, that is what we will help you stay motivated even when it gets tough should you start on a keto diet.
You won’t go hungry
One of the best things about losing weight through ketosis is that you will not experience hunger pangs as you would with many diets. It is not focused on starvation method.
You will most likely find your keto meals filling and satisfying because it’s a diet rich in fats.
Be okay with fats, and you will not be hungry while burning fat.
It can help you quit sugar
We all know the damaging effects of sugar on our health. But it’s not that easy to quit on sugar, is it? So here is the good news.
The keto diet can help you quit sugar once and for all. Once you have adjusted to keto meals and the ketogenic lifestyle, your taste buds would have also adjusted.
It’s like cutting out sugar from your coffee. After a few cups of unsweetened coffee, you would have harnessed the power of acquired taste, and drinking it with sugar becomes sickly sweet.
So if you feel like your life is run by sugar and cravings, this is for you.
The keto diet will give you control over your addiction to sugar.
You won’t have to count calories
For many years, we have been told to eat low fat, skinny or whatever you wish to call it and to count calories diligently.
When you are on the keto diet, the emphasis is on the upping your fat intake and restricting carbohydrates.
It doesn’t mean you are free to overeat or be reckless with your eating habits (no healthy diet allows that), but it means you can lose weight without being concerned about calories.
It’s also easier to eat fewer calories without trying because you are finally eating food that is nutrient-dense (and filling).
In saying that, I have to say life on the keto diet is A LOT easier when you follow a specific meal plan to burn fat like a machine.
A potential solution for food sensitivities
Many allergies and food intolerances are caused by the large amounts of carbohydrates we consume daily.
While on the ketogenic diet, high FODMAP foods such as wheat and sweeteners are eliminated.
Unpleasant symptoms of a high-carb lifestyle such as bloating, acne, and sluggishness are less likely to occur.
As a result, you might see a reduction in the number of allergic reactions and sensitivities you experience with certain foods.
Longer lasting energy
Yes, you heard that right. How common is it to always feel tired throughout the day?
Believe it or not, a majority of the time, our diet is to blame.
No longer subjected to the rise and fall of glucose, you can get a steady release of energy from fats and protein.
Look and feel healthy
Once your body is passed the transition period and those unpleasant symptoms of keto flu, you will begin to feel great. You might experience high concentration levels and become more productive.
You will not only shed unwanted fat on the ketogenic diet, but you may find your skin health improving.
The ketogenic diet has other health benefits such as reduced bloating and fluid retention, and better overall mental health.
Prevent common lifestyle-associated diseases
Although there are many contributing factors to developing certain conditions and morbidities, there are studies pointing to the correlation between carbohydrates and diseases.
You should feel better knowing that you are decreasing your chances of developing morbidities such as Alzheimer’s dementia, diabetes, anxiety disorders and autoimmune diseases.
You can burn fat without exercising
Many people find effective weight loss exercises such as (high-intensity interval training (HIIT) very difficult to take up. And even if you do start HIIT or CrossFit training, you might find it hard to stay consistent.
Now, I’m not suggesting you neglect physical activity (no, no).
A sedentary lifestyle is never a good idea, we all know it. But while on the ketogenic diet, you can lose weight without workout out a certain way.
This means you are free to do any kind of physical activity you enjoy without feeling pressured exercise for weight loss.
You get to workout without obsessing over how many calories you are burning. How’s that for motivation?
As you can see, the ketogenic diet can be one of the best ways to restore and heal your body and lose weight if needed. It is a massive lifestyle change for most people and doesn’t come without challenges.
However, if you summon up the willpower and motivation (everyone has different motivators), you can burn fat and feel your best on the ketogenic diet.
Now, over to you? What are your thoughts on the ketogenic diet?
And if you have been on the keto diet, did you use a specific support program or go at it alone?