At the end of 2018, the most searched diet on Google was the Ketogenic diet. In recent years keto has exploded in popularity.
The biggest short-term result of switching to keto is rapid weight loss.
While rapid weight loss is a great incentive to start keto, other factors must be taken into consideration so you can get the best results long term.
The ketogenic diet is a strict diet that’s hard to maintain on a daily basis. It takes serious commitment.
Despite this, there are many benefits you’ll get if your willing to go through the period of transition and make keto your default lifestyle.
The benefits of keto include:
- A lower body fat percentage
- Better brain health
- Increased insulin sensitivity
- Better HDL cholesterol levels (the good kind of cholesterol)
- Increased energy (after an adjustment period)
1. You’ll experience radical symptoms good and bad
Unfortunately, many turn to keto for weight loss only not taking stock of how it will impact their lives long term.
If you consume a diet heavy in processed foods, switching to keto will be an immense shock to your system.
You’ll experience symptoms like:
- Brain fog
If your body is used to using glucose for fuel then you ask it to use fat for fuel (which is more efficient) you’ll experience a rougher transition.
This transition shouldn't last for more than a week or so.
In the first week, it's best to take it easy. If you're very active, try reducing your exercise routine until your body gets used to keto.
Another top tip is to drink saltwater.
Saltwater allows you to stay hydrated and replaces electrolytes that you may lose from increasing your water intake.
For some, the keto “flu” is too much and they give up on the diet long before they can start seeing more positive effects.
Keto isn't for everyone.
It's best to sit with yourself and write down exactly what your intention is before switching to keto.
2. Large portions of your diet will be taken away
When you switch to keto you may have to let go of many foods that you love.
If your intake is over 50% of carbs per day the transition will be a bit rough.
Most fruit can only be consumed in small amounts or not at all.
Grains are out of the question.
Most keto experts recommend you consume fewer than 20 grams of carbs per day. Many Americans consume 250 grams of carbs per day.
Low carb usually means that you are eating less than 100 grams per day but doing keto takes things to the extreme.
By eating such a low-carb diet, you allow your body to be permanently in ketosis.
In order to adhere to the keto diet, you must avoid foods like:
- Red wine
- Most chocolate (there’s chocolate that’s keto-friendly)
- Some nuts like cashews
- An excessive amount of berries
Most vegetables have some carbs in them so it's necessary to track your intake.
As a rule, vegetables that grow above the ground are usually ok to eat in larger amounts.
Your goal should be to make your keto diet as healthy as possible. It's possible to eat a bad diet while doing keto.
When you have a diet of only meat, ghee, and full-fat cheese this can cause more harm than good in the long term.
3. Maintaining a strict keto diet requires intense discipline
Attending social events will require some finesse especially at the beginning of your keto journey.
Drinking some wine or spirits is usually fine.
Dry red wine only has a few carbs per serving and clear spirits like vodka and gin have none.
The key is to not over-drink.
Going on a drinking binge will only cause you to have cravings the next day.
Note: When you do keto you’ll feel the effects of alcohol faster.
Keto will also require you to meal plan more aggressively. Focus on going grocery shopping on the same day and time each week.
This will help you stay on track.
You’ll most likely feel the absence of carbs most intensely when you start keto. Make sure you’re eating plenty of protein and good fats.
A robust gym schedule will also help with discipline one you’ve made the adjustment to keto.
Vary your workouts by:
- Weight Training
- HIIT (high-intensity interval training)
- Brisk walks
When you vary your workouts you give your body the best chance to develop lean muscle mass. Which is a goal for most of us.
4. The long-term effects of keto will vary depending on your commitment
While there are many immediate side effects of switching to keto like sudden weight loss, the long-term effects are up to you.
I've seen people in my life try keto for a few months, lose weight, only to gain it back (plus some) in a few weeks.
If you want permanent weight loss, you have to stick with keto for the long haul.
This is the problem with most strict diets.
You’ll do excellent for 6 months or less then you find yourself start to add more carbs back into your diet.
Doing so will keep your body in a yo-yo weight cycle.
That's why it's so important to go into a diet like keto knowing that your there for the long term.
Yes, slip-ups will happen but the sooner you bounce back the better.
Support, especially in the beginning, will help with your commitment.
Get support by:
- Joining a weight loss group
- Hiring a health/keto coach
- Having your spouse or friends do the diet with you
When you have support slip-ups will be less frequent. You’ll have a higher chance of success sticking with keto.
Some people can do keto successfully for years. Others can’t.
If you think that doing keto is the next step for you, try intermittent fasting or going lower carb first.
This will help you manage the hunger you’ll experience once you start keto. Doing keto for the long term is a good idea only if you're going to take it seriously.
I wish you all the best in your transformation!