Like all trendy diets, the Keto diet promises you BIG changes in a short amount of time. It has been called life-changing, a miracle diet, the "best thing that's ever happened to weight loss", etc. etc. Cue eye-roll.
If you've been here for a while, you know how I feel about fad diets. If you're new…well, first, welcome! Second, I'm not a fan of trends within the weight loss industry. As a dietitian and expert in my field, I strongly disagree with fad diets, cutting out whole food groups, and basically anything that will rock your world (and your gut!) in a negative way. I AM a huge fan of eating whole foods, doing everything in moderation, and seeking professional advice when making big moves with your diet, medication, or lifestyle.
So. Why is keto not for you? Let's begin with defining keto. In the most basic sense, the ketogenic diet is a super high in fat (65-75% of your diet is fat), VERY low carb (less than 5% of your diet) and moderate protein (15-20% of your diet). Basically, it's a very imbalanced diet. The point of this diet is to drive your body into ketosis. By denying yourself carbs, your body will freak out, your insulin levels drop, and fat is released from cells – this fat will overwhelm the liver and that releases ketones, the body's second choice for energy. Tada. Ketosis.
The keto diet's origins had NOTHING TO DO WITH WEIGHT LOSS. The diet was originally introduced to treat severe childhood epilepsy. Research suggests that the production of ketones may influence neurotransmitter activity in neurons, which allows for a reduction in seizure attacks.
In my experience and after working with clients who have reported not-so-great gut changes, the keto diet is designed to set you up for failure in the long-run (if you're opting for this approach to lose weight). To maintain ketosis, you must continue to eat a very low-carb diet, making any "flexible indulgements" near impossible. Its ridiculously strict rules takes a toll on the dieter, and it removes all enjoyment from eating food. Beyond sucking the happiness from what should be a positive activity (eating means you're fueling your body and mind) and making cooking a nightmare, the keto diet leaves you short on nutrients. You are cutting out a HUGE portion of whole foods, all which add rich nutrients to your diet. Let's not forget to mention the effects of this diet on gut health – by removing so many nutrition-dense foods from your diet, you are effectively cutting out excellent sources of fibre and prebiotics -> essentials for gut health!
And here is my biggest problem with this diet: the long-term side-effects and safety of the diet are UNKNOWN. This diet has only been studied for a short amount of time, and while the promised weight loss is definitely attractive, the potential side-effects of this diet are huge deterrents.
Please, contact a professional nutritionist or dietitian if you are looking to make drastic changes to your diet. A consultation goes a long way, you do not want to cause lasting damage to your gut just to lose those last 5 pounds.