Keto is certainly the latest fad diet. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people have a poor understanding of what ‘keto’ really is. The ketogenic diet is one of the most restrictive diets out there. It is by no means an easy road to weight loss.
Nutritional ketosis is a state in which your body runs on ketones (fats) as opposed to glucose (carbohydrates). Getting into ketosis requires consuming an extremely low amount of carbohydrates. Doing so will force your body to override its primary fuel source and default to using fats for fuel.
From an evolutionary perspective, our bodies’ ability to run on fats was a necessary survival tool during times of famine thousands of years ago. As such, the process of getting into ketosis involves tricking your body into thinking it is starving by depriving it of carbohydrates. Turning your body into a fat burner is no easy task. It will take a toll both mentally and physiologically as it is something completely new to your brain and body (also referred to as the keto flu).
There have been numerous health benefits associated with being in a state of ketosis for short periods of time. However, the research has yet to show whether staying in ketosis for extended periods of time is as beneficial.
Many of the keto experts advocate for cycling in and out of periods of ketosis. For the average person, this further complicates an already complicated diet. Keto cycling is extremely complex and it is not an exact science.
Determining whether you are in true ketosis requires testing your urine, breath, or blood. On average, it takes 2-5 days to get into nutritional ketosis. The process involves a high level of commitment, discipline, food logging, and testing. The way the body responds to ketosis is highly individual. Some people experience none of the associated health benefits and instead feel worse when in ketosis.
For many folks, the keto diet is simply not feasible nor sustainable. The allure of simply eating mostly healthy fats may be appealing, but significantly reducing carbohydrate consumption is difficult both mentally and physically. For most, staying in keto requires consuming 30g or less of net carbs per day. Consistently hitting this number will involve a lot of sacrifices.
The good news is that you do not need to cut carbohydrates short in order to lose weight. Carbohydrates are our primary fuel source for a reason. Eating whole, real foods in portions based on you and your goals is just as conducive to weight loss and feeling better. Focusing on high-quality foods in approximately the right quantities is easier to comprehend, not nearly as restrictive, and much more suitable for a busy lifestyle.
Research has shown the ketogenic diet is most appropriate for those with epilepsy, diabetes, and the morbidly obese. If you do not fall into one of those three categories, you should consider attempting a less restrictive diet comprised of whole real foods before attempting the extremely rigid and restrictive ketogenic diet.