The “Keto Diet” is low in carbs, high in fats, and sounds like a dream come true for many men—after all, you’re supposed to a lot more meat like steak and bacon. It’s popular among the aforementioned men and has a rabid following among high-intensity athletes. But there are some big problems with the keto diet for anyone except athletes. If you’re thinking about trying the keto diet, think again.
Let’s take a look at the theory behind the keto diet: ketosis. That’s when your body uses fat for fuel when it’s starved of its usual energy supply in the form of glucose. Most of the time, your body is metabolizing glucose from carbohydrates in grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. Fats are padding—a protective layer for your organs, providing heat and a reserve of energy for a long winter. But if you cut back on carbs your body will start to process your fat reserves. The idea behind the keto diet is to induce ketosis by cutting carbohydrates and eaty fatty meats, burning fat instead of glucose, and inducing rapid weight loss.
Just think about that—you’re trying to trick your body into eating itself to lose weight. This should rank right up there with anorexia and bulimia. This isn’t a healthy diet—and it can have some serious side effects.
The first and most dangerous effect of the keto diet is low insulin. As a result, your breath might smell like acetone, indicating that you’re running low on insulin. This is not a good idea. You can develop low blood sugar and crash hard if you’re eating an exclusively ketogenic diet. It doesn’t help that ketones might suppress your sense of hunger—which sounds like a good thing until you pass out.
The second and most annoying effect of the ketogenic diet is the “keto flu.” When you first cut carbs and boost your fats, your body goes into a panic as you start to metabolize fats. Common symptoms include headaches, nauseau, fogginess, muscle cramping and fatigue for up to a week. Not good. You can “push past” the keto flu, but this is your body trying to tell you’re not getting enough glucose! Listen to it.
The third common effect of the ketogenic diet is constipation. You’re not eating enough fiber and you’re eating a lot of meat. Many people get plugged up pretty quickly and resort to fiber supplements. It’s better to add some real fiber to your diet—and walk away from that bacon.
Losing weight is all about portion control, not cutting out necessary parts of a healthy diet. You’re body needs a little fat, it’s not going to kill you! Most of us need some carbohydrates, glucose, and fiber. Unless you’re an extreme athlete—seriously, take a look in the mirror: are you training for the Olympics? No?—steer clear of an exclusive keto diet.