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The Ketogenic Diet Meal Plan: Learn the Costs & Benefits

Author: Nicholas Gregory, MA, CSCS

Discussed in previous Noom blogs, the Ketogenic diet is a low carb/high fat diet that has recently gained popularity in the diet world. Boasting quick weight loss while allowing followers to indulge in fatty foods that are typically off limits in other styles of eating, the Ketogenic diet relies on the bodies process of ketogenesis, or the breaking down of both dietary and stored fat for energy. 

The Ketogenic diet also leads to faster weight loss based on the staple foods of the diet. Foods high in fat and protein result in more satiety compared to processed carbohydrates. This change in fuel sources leaves followers feeling less hungry and consuming fewer calories throughout the day. 

Although research is unclear on long term effects of following this diet, there are pros and cons to consider when deciding if the Ketogenic diet is right for you. Let’s take some time to dive into these pros and cons to help you determine if going Keto is right for you! 

Keto diet pros

Therapeutic effect: Remember, the Ketogenic diet was created first, as an epileptic therapy. Proven in multiple research studies, the Ketogenic diet is an effective way to treat neurological disorders such as Epilepsy, Alzheimers, and Parkinsons. The Ketogenic diet is effective in treating these disorders because it is able to mimic the bodies metabolic effects of starvation i.e. burning fat for energy instead of carbohydrates. This change in fuel source has been proven to alter gene expression involved in energy metabolism in the brain, which aids in treating these neurological disorders. 

Weight loss: It is no secret that following a high fat and low carb diet can lead to weight loss. Restricting overly-processed carbohydrates is a commonality among most diet plans because it works! The Ketogenic diet takes this one step further and encourages followers to limit all carbohydrates (even most fruits and vegetables) in order to reach ketosis. Although this reduction in carbohydrates and sugar can lead to quick weight loss, it is not always the most sustainable approach.

Blood sugar stabilization: Another benefit to restricting sugary processed foods is the impact it has on blood sugar levels. The Ketogenic diet has been shown to have positive impacts on blood sugar levels which is especially beneficial for those with diabetes. It’s important to note that these benefits typically occur under the guidance of a registered dietitian or doctor. Without the proper foods and proportions, it is difficult for blood sugar changes to be sustained. 

Keto diet cons

The Keto Flu: Reaching true ketosis takes time. Removing the fuel source that your body has used for most if not all of your life, can lead to unfavorable symptoms. Followers of the diet typically refer to the two to three week period of adaptation as the “keto flu”. The keto flu can include fatigue, nausea, headaches, and irritability. The keto flu is also a common reason individuals struggle to stick with this diet past the first month. 

Nutrient Deficiencies: Limiting fruits, vegetables, and grains can lead to a deficiency in micronutrients that are important for a healthy body. Too often, new followers jump into the diet without planning or consulting a nutrition professional. This can lead to an unhealthy balance of food and a lack of variety. Supplements and careful food selection should be used to prevent deficiencies. 

Sustainability: At its core, the Ketogenic diet is a restrictive diet. The fact that followers are encouraged to cut out entire food groups (carbohydrates) leads to this diet being extremely difficult to sustain. This is only amplified when looking at the specifics of ketosis (the aim of the Ketogenic diet). Once followers have reached ketosis, re-introducing any carbohydrates into the diet can switch the body back to burning sugar for energy instead of fat. Followers of this diet must then work themselves back into a state of ketosis to reap the benefits of this style of eating. 

Following the Ketogenic diet in the short term may lead to favorable weight loss results but what happens when carbohydrates are re-introduce? Without support, and balance, restrictive diets are almost always unsustainable. 

Build sustainable habits

At Noom, we believe the best eating style is the one you can sustain! Finding ways to eat the foods you enjoy, while also working towards your goals, can ensure you are losing weight in a balanced and sustainable way. The Ketogenic diet may lead to weight loss in the short term but at what cost? Restrictive diets consistently lead to frustration and yo-yo dieting. Interested in finding your best approach to sustainable weight loss? Want 1 on 1 and group accountability along the way? Look no further than Noom! 

With constant support from your goal specialist, Noom gives you the ability to find the eating style that works best for you, no restrictions! Interested in seeing what it is all about? Give Noom a try today!