Keto: Is this low-carb, high-fat diet safe?
Yes, but only if you do it right! It can even help in managing diabetes.
You may have come across countless articles telling you that a high-fat or low-carbohydrate diet will do more harm than good. Contrary to what some people might have published, most are really just dwelling on unwarranted assumptions and misunderstandings with no proper scientific backing, or on the confusion between ‘ketoacidosis’ and ‘nutritional ketosis’, when these two terms mean two completely different things.
In the keto diet, your body will enter ketosis (that’s why it’s called keto diet). Just to clear things up, ketosis is a metabolic state where your body burns fat stores instead of sugar/carbs to obtain energy. On the other hand, ketoacidosis, is an extreme and dangerous metabolic state that could develop in Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus patients, if these patients do not manage their insulin and diet efficiently.
The answer to whether keto is safe is still largely dependent on what you ultimately feed your body.
With the right foods, then yes. Without, then no.
Let’s look at an example:
People might have the impression that vegetarians eat greens and salads every day and assume that they must be healthy.
Guess what else is vegetarian?
Cheese pizzas, fries and potato chips/crisps.
If you are feeding on such foods every day, chances are your diet will be falling far from what is deemed ‘healthy’, and this applies to keto as well.
While it might be keto-friendly to consume loads of butter and bacon, if you were to fill your body with only these types of foods, you might be placing yourself in an even worse position than before. [Related: Keto-friendly foods in Singapore]
So first order of business: To fix the misconceptions.
1. Eating fatty foods is bound to cause heart problems/diseases.
We have all been taught to avoid fatty foods all our lives, because of the detrimental accumulation effects it could potentially do to our heart and body. Don’t get us wrong…high fat consumption and horribly unbalanced diets are reported to be positively correlated to cardiovascular diseases. However, these diseases usually come with large consumption of bad, unhealthy, saturated and/or trans fats. (Basically, fats that are usually found in junk foods or deep fried foods using reused oil.)
In the keto diet, you are meant to be consuming healthy natural fats (like those found in salmon, avocado and nuts) — this diet does not encourage the consumption of saturated/trans fats for weight loss. The increase in consumption of these types of fat will instead work to reduce long-term inflammation, and inflammation is positively correlated to heart diseases.
2. I have high cholesterol and diabetes, this diet can’t be good for me.
The keto diet actually helps with regulating cholesterol levels and diabetes. Previous research has shown strong promising evidence of diabetic patients reducing their medications or even being completely taken off it after being on the keto diet. With regards to cholesterol, there has been research that shows a high fat — low carbs diet increased the levels of HDL cholesterol (aka “good” cholesterol) whilst reducing the levels of LDL cholesterol (aka “bad” cholesterol). We do recommend consulting your doctor/dietitian and making sure your insulin and cholesterol levels are in check.
3. Dropping carbs = dropping muscle.
You might see a slower growth in muscle mass whilst on keto when compared to someone on a high carb diet. However, the keto diet should not stand in the way of your training nor will it induce muscle loss. Just take a look at Dr Leroy Kiang — a powerlifter on keto. We did an interview with him here.
4. Being in keto for too long will lead to ketoacidosis.
Although there are many on-going studies on long-term effects on the health effects of a ketogenic diet, you won’t get ketoacidosis/overdose of ketones in your body for being on keto for long.
The real question to ask is, are there any limitations to the keto diet in the long term? Well, research has yet to answer this question in confidence.
There have been published studies that support long-term health effects of keto, but also contradicting studies that show otherwise. Thus, many have recommended that you should adapt ketosis periodically if you do not have any health implications. [Related: Benefits of the keto diet]
Does this mean indefinite/long-term ketosis is bad?
Not at all.
Especially if you have a health condition that responds well to the ketogenic diet, you should definitely stay on it. Scientifically, a ketogenic diet has proven to be extremely promising for controlling epilepsy and diabetes. Other science studies have also looked to find promising results for neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s, and even conditions like bipolar disorder. After all, food is medicine!
Even if you are a healthy individual with no health complications and your body is thriving on this diet, there should be nothing holding you back from going at this indefinitely! However, should you feel that after starting the ketogenic diet, that it disagrees or does not compliment well with your body or lifestyle, don’t feel obligated to stay on it.
Regardless of whether you decide to follow a strict keto diet or not, you can still implement some of its practices into your lifestyle to create a healthier you, such as reducing the consumption of sugary food and beverages, and switching your fat intake to healthier fats.
Remember: Do what works for you!
Everyone has a different physiology — something that works for someone else will not necessarily work for you, and vice versa. The keto diet is a highly versatile one and it is highly encouraged for you to modify it accordingly to your level of physical activities and also your own body.
HEY! Check out our Cutting Edge Keto series with 9 unique recipes.
Our meal series is your solution to living a hassle free ketogenic lifestyle. Indulge in tasty meals and enjoy every aspect of your #LCHF journey with Fitness Ration. No cooking. No cleaning.
Island wide, available now with deliveries 5 days a week.
About Fitness Ration
Started in 2015, Fitness Ration was founded on the mission to fight obesity and modern city-bound health issues we face today. We have made a conscious decision to design our business model towards providing a more sustainable and convenient healthy eating experience. Today, we have run through more than a hundred original recipes, and served over 200,000 meals island wide.
When you order from Fitness Ration, you are joining the movement for better dietary habits. Join us in taking a step closer to a new generation of health.
Learn more at www.fitnessration.com.sg