It’s a lot more than just fat loss and quick results—know what you’re signing up for and decide if it’s the right thing for you or not.
The term ‘keto diet’ is now part of most conversations—whether they’re being had amongst families on the dinner table, colleagues at work, workout buddies at a Pilates class or strangers on a random Facebook group. Considering the incredible results that the diet has shown in record time, we don’t blame you for wanting to give it a shot. However, trying a new diet is more than just waiting on the great-feeling results. Your body is jolted into a new form of eating and takes time to adjust to that, which can come with a whole lot of consequences of its own. The ketogenic or keto diet is a very low carb, adequate protein and high-fat diet that puts your body into a state of ketosis wherein it starts to use fat to convert into energy instead of carbohydrates. Hence, people on this diet start to lose fat, have more energy and drop kgs on the scale soon enough. However, it’s not as easy as it sounds—your body takes between one to two weeks to enter the state of ketosis, which means the diet requires utmost determination. We rounded up five things you should know about the keto diet before you make the switch.
Firstly, you must consult a doctor before you try the keto diet
While you may be able to make small dietary switches for weight loss without getting a host of tests done, you have to be a lot more careful with the keto diet. Here, you’re pushing your body to function in a way that is not normal for it at all, and the excess consumption of fat can affect your cholesterol levels and even cause kidney stones. If you do decide that you want to get on the keto diet, consult your GP or your nutritionist, get any tests if required and then take the leap.
The keto diet doesn’t mean you can eat unlimited fats
Even though it would be great to be able to eat a heap of cheese, and avocado at every meal, that’s not what keto is about. All of your meals need to be planned and well-balanced, so you don’t over-consume any of the food groups—excess proteins aren’t good for you either. Dr Stephanie Estima, a nutritionist, metabolism expert and founder of the Keto Clean Program wrote about the importance of fibrous foods when on the keto diet. “Green leafy veg like kale, spinach, swiss chard, bok choy, broccoli, and fermented foods like sauerkraut and kim chi all have an extraordinary amount of insoluble fiber. Along with the phytonutrients derived from these vegetables, the fiber plays an important role in becoming fat adapted, or ketogenic. Insoluble fiber means that it cannot be broken down by the gut bacteria, and does not dissolve in water. It is indigestible, an ‘anti-nutrient’ if you will, because it does not break down and become part of you. It passes through you, cleaning up the debris, sopping up excess hormones, and cleaning out the gut track like a pipe cleaner.” A lot of your favorite fruits may be carb intensive, too. If you find it hard to figure out your meal plans yourself, get a nutritionist to help you out or look up keto food delivery services in your area.
No, you cannot have a single cheat meal while on it
As mentioned, it takes one to two weeks for your body to enter a state of ketosis—where it starts to use fats as opposed to carbohydrates to convert to energy—and even a single cheat meal can take you off the course and need you to start all over again. Your body needs to get accustomed to receiving those food groups in certain quantities to understand that it now has to start using fats for energy, so make sure you only decide to try the keto diet when you’re ready. You don’t want to do it rigorously for a week and then binge eat and have to start all over again.
The keto flu is real, and you should brace yourself for it
Everything comes with its own set of pros and cons, as does the keto diet. The keto flu occurs in the first week or so of starting the diet. According to Healthline, “Keto flu includes poor energy and mental function, increased hunger, sleep issues, nausea, digestive discomfort and decreased exercise performance.” You can feel irritable, low on energy and of course, crave carbs if your general diet was heavy on that food group. “To minimize this, you can try a regular low-carb diet for the first few weeks. This may teach your body to burn more fat before you completely eliminate carbs. A ketogenic diet can also change the water and mineral balance of your body, so adding extra salt to your meals or taking mineral supplements can help.”
You cannot go back to eating unhealthy food once you achieve your goal
The keto diet is not a permanent lifestyle change. It’s one you do temporarily, for a couple of weeks, to drop weight and then transition to a low carb diet which can be followed as a lifestyle. This is the best way to maintain the weight you lose while on keto. If you do start to eat carb-heavy meals again, you will find yourself putting on a lot of your weight and your body will start to feel confused with the sudden surge as well. Ease yourself into consuming carbs again and made sure everything is in moderation so none of your efforts goes to waste.